Back in March, I answered a shoutout on the Funny Women website looking for writers to send in ideas based around the concept of illness and comedy.
I submitted an article entitled Cancer, Tampons & An Unfortunate Accident, and to my utter delight, it was chosen. If you haven’t read it – I mean why would you have – in a nutshell, it was about the day in 2018 I found out my mum had cancer, my dog Phoebe ate my used tampon and I shat myself. Seriously.
The last line of that article went like this:
“PS – Phoebe is alive and well, with no signs of toxic shock syndrome. And so is my mum.“
Well, dear reader, brace yourself for a massive dose of ‘don’t speak too soon’, as a few months later in June we lost our beloved Phoebe very suddenly (not tampon related), and in August we found out my mum has cancer again.
Now, before I go any further I have to level with you, this article won’t have a happy conclusion, with everything wrapped up in a nice neat bow (see original article if you’re looking for nice neat bows).
I have absolutely no idea whats going to happen or what the ending is going to be…
What I can write about is now and the little I’m learning through this complete shit show in the hopes that anyone reading this experiencing a similar thing, will maybe feel less alone. Because it is lonely, and scary and you feel utterly helpless and vulnerable pretty much most of the time…
Ah, sweet, sweet emotions – there you are – all heightened, constantly slapping you round the face every second of the day. Like the moments my heart feels completely cracked open and my skin so paper-thin, I can’t believe I’m not stopped in the street by a handsome stranger (fine, he doesn’t have to be handsome, but this is my emotional rollercoaster, so he’s handsome) as I’m gushing blood everywhere and he insists on calling an ambulance.
Or the 3 am cry, where you wake up to the sound of silence and realise you’ve been crying in your sleep as you’re so frightened of the unknown. Luckily for me, my next-door neighbour has an obsession with Ronan Keating, so as soon as the chorus for Life is a Rollercoaster penetrates my thoughts through the wall, I start gently weeping for a very different reason.
Sometimes, I feel absolutely nothing and can quite literally feel a sheet of armour wrapping around me, readying me for battle. These are the strong days. When they come, bask in them and remember the feeling on your darker days.
The important thing I’ve learnt with emotions is to just feel it all, there’s no point in fighting it. Or bottling it up. It catches up with you in the end and you’ll find yourself at midnight with extreme pains in what you think is your chest, only to discover its actually your liver and you’re not having a heart attack after all. You just need a massive poo.
There’s the social anxiety, which is a new one for me. I used to look forward to going out pretty much anywhere, but now I’m terrified.
Keep going out, keep meeting friends. Because if you’re lucky you might be out one night, when your mates invite you to Wales for the weekend when you’re at a particularly low ebb and they will all quite literally bring you back to life with laughter, love, compassion and care. Rely on your friends, they’re your family. Never forget that.
Hold onto a sense of humour, because by God you’re gonna need it. Find the funny wherever it sneaks up on you. Don’t feel guilty about laughing, it’s a wonderful and precious thing.
Finally, I’ve learnt that sadly, pretty much all those awful, vomit-inducing little sayings you find written on little wooden plaques are mostly true.
Love is All You Need.
One Foot in Front of the Other.
Even the dreaded…
Live. Laugh. Love.
I was on the phone to mum the other day and she said: “you know Susie, you just have to live each day, anything else is a waste.”
Mother Knows Best.