“AHHHHHH SHIIIITTTTTTTTT,” I bellow from the laundry.

“What?!!” Mel calls in response.

“I just remembered.”

“Remembered what?”

“That I have bowel cancer.”

I had just been going about my morning, quietly immune to my own condition before spying my ‘downstairs’ toothbrush and toothpaste in the ‘mouth care’ jar we have set up in the laundry.

Ahhh the remembering. It is the worst. And it happens about 18 times a day.

The first remembering is the one just after you wake up. I’m getting used to that one. It’s not as punchy as the first couple of times. Now it feels familiar and less scary.

It’s the others that catch you off guard. For me, they tend to happen more frequently in the second week of the chemo cycle. For all intents and purposes, I look like myself. I have more energy. I feel like me in the second week. So it continues to take my breath away when I am reminded about Alan and his comfortable residency inside my abdominal organs.

The weirdest things remind me of the fact that I’m seriously unwell. The sight of my ever-thinning face in the mirror. The smell of my own skin which I never used to be able to smell. People asking me how I am (please don’t stop – it’s mostly lovely to be asked). The ad on TV reminding all the over-50s to do their annual poop scoop to check for bowel cancer. Our dog Murray shadowing me around the house because he senses I need looking after.

Most of the time I am good. I’m me. I’m laughing and eating and taking the piss out of myself, Alan, my friends, and my family. I listen to podcasts and laugh at old episodes of Spicks and Specks every night like we have always done. I figure my brain must be producing its own form of Rohypnol so as to protect itself from knowing all the time that I am harbouring a terrorist.

Because when I remember, the tears ping as if they were just there at the rim of my eyelid waiting for this exact moment. The air escapes so quickly from my lungs – sometimes mid-sentence. And in my mind, I’m facing Alan and he isn’t a joke I created so as to cope. He isn’t a cartoon human on a deck chair. He is an IT. It is a necrotic, organ-eating monster, growing at an exponential rate throughout my body. It is invisible to me except in occasional discomfort and of course, the consequences of its presence…treatment.

I think remembering will eventually become knowing. And that, I think, will be easier.

In the meantime, Chris (and my friends), but especially Chris, catches me. He holds me in the scary space until it passes. And we do the quiz in the paper or play with Murray. And I remember something else…I’m actually still me. I’m still here. I’m feeling good. I’m alive and not even ‘just alive’. I’m really alive. I’m loved. I love. Life is good. My life is being lived.

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0 thoughts on “The Remembering.

  1. The pictures you continue to paint with your words are so vivid. So emotive. Thank you for continuing to share your life with us.

  2. Mignon weckert says:

    You are living a far richer life than so many others. You know you are loved by so many people and you are able to love back. Every day is a gift and those people who know you know what a gift you are to all of us! ❤️

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