Life’s a journey, right?
Once you’ve passed the playful childhood years and those tricky teenage traumas, then the ideal adult life is like a gentle hike through the countryside. You’ve got a map on your phone of how to get from A to your perfect B and there’s a nice clear path to follow. Not quite the Yellow Brick Road but one of those public footpaths with mile markers and signposts to point you cheerfully in the right direction.
This path takes you on a pleasant stroll through emerald fields sparkling with rainbow-hued wild flowers. Or maybe along a stunning cliff edge with spectacular views of coastal crags and azure seas. Sometimes there’s a bit of a slog up a hill that leaves you panting for breath, but the panorama at the top makes the red face and aching lungs worthwhile and coasting down the other side with the wind in your face is a joy. Sometimes the path gets a bit clogged up with muddy puddles or brambles and you have to pick your way through with a bit of care (or maybe you stomp right through those puddles because you packed your wellies and who doesn’t love puddle stomping?).
And sometimes you reach a fork in the road and have to make a choice – left or right? There’s still a clear path ahead either way but the wrong choice and you might be skirting a rundown industrial estate, wind blown with litter and dark corners, that you rush through at speed, hoping to find the correct path back to go those green valleys. Or you might even find yourself heading for a completely new destination, that old path to point B not seeming quite so perfect after all (were those rain clouds you spotted ahead?) while point C offers fresh promise. But either way there’s a path. It’s there under your feet and stretching out in front of you all the way to the horizon. All you have to do is keep walking, trusting that the path, even when it’s getting dark and trees throw creepy monster shadows on the ground, will get you where you want to go.
And now imagine that someone says five words to you and that path vanishes. It crumbles away in front of you just as you’re about to take your next step. Solid ground breaks up and falls away. A massive sinkhole opens up and ahead of you is nothing but empty air. Your path, and your horizon, have vanished.
That’s what it’s like when someone says the words ‘unfortunately you do have cancer’.
I’ve started this blog to try and help me find my path again. I’ve still got my hiking boots on and that map is still on my phone but the way ahead is frightening, confusing, and uncertain and the people around me are speaking a language I don’t yet understand.
I plan to take it one letter at a time although, to misquote Eric Morecambe, I’ll use all the right letters but not necessarily in the right order. This will be no-holds-barred and there will be lots of discussion of my boobs so if you’re squeamish or might get embarrassed by knowing so much about my anatomy best step away now.
For those who stick around, I’ll be grateful for your company as I go path-finding.