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Saturday, 9 February 2013

Quilting and a Quandery

After sleeping for about 12 hours I was up before 6am and getting ready to spend the morning waiting for a delivery.  The morning wasn't much of a loss because it was grey and I filled in the time getting some quilting done and some new blocks cut out.  It is always difficult to know which side of the house a delivery is going to come.  The back of the house actually faces out on to the street, because originally access was going to be at the front of the house, which is now facing away from the road.  Also because I live in a small terrace of houses sometimes people can't find their way up the path between two terraces to be able to find the front of the house anyway.

So; have rotary cutter and cutting mat and will cut out to my heart's content.  I am still working on the Quilt blocks for what I call the Lost Inspiration Quilt in memory of friends who have died from Metastatic Breast cancer.  The trouble is that I am not sure what to say about each of those I am doing a block for, or at least for the first friend.  What do you say about someone else?  How should I use her words to express her story?  Do I just give the bare facts that she was diagnosed as Stage 3 in 2006, and Stage 4 in 2009.  He mother and best friend died in February 2009, her sister had committed suicide at the age of 42 in 1989, her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's when she was already Stage 4 and she had no support from her brother and his family.  Do I tell how lonely she was and how the only person that really gave her any support was her boss.  One co-worker had actually asked her how she had enjoyed her time off when she went back to work after one treatment break.

Hope do we portray the loneliness of a Stage 4 diagnosis?  The knowledge that we are going to be killed by this dis-ease.  Can you imagine living with that knowledge, a father with rapidly advancing Alzheimer's, the recent loss of your mother, the lack of support from your remaining sibling and the trauma of having to tell your parents over twenty years before that their elder daughter had taken her own life.  But there was also a journey to some form of self-empowerment of acceptance.  This is not a case of giving up, but of not allowing cancer the power of taking your life as well as causing your death.  This is a very individual journey, and one that in my experience has moments of complete despair, great job, peace, anger, contentment and acceptance of our own humanity on so many levels.

I have come to accept my own frailties of character and the sorrow of not having lived the kind of life that I may have, but there again what is the point of fretting about this now?  I can't go back and change anything.  I will not marry, and I will not be able to have children, but it is, what it is, so all that is left is to make the most of the time that I do have.  In some ways the present has been so much more fulfilling and complete than before.  I no longer worry about what others think of me, or of pleasing others.  I do things that have meaning to me and that I want to do.

This is what I see as the gift that cancer has given me.  It has cleared a lot of the mess out of my life, it has pared it down to what is essential like the sound of birds singing and just allowing myself to be happy.  What more could any of us want in life and I just hope my friend managed to find some of that contentment.

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