Gazing out of the window across the grounds of the house, towards the river, I settle down to write. The river flows – the River Styx, hurtling towards the underworld. There’s even a little rowing boat. The arched wooden bridge could be the one in My Cousin Rachel, which now seems A Bad Sign because we all know what happens to that bridge. This place which yesterday seemed idyllic is now shot through with portents of death. If I make a list of things that I’m worrying about, maybe it will help, I decide:
1. If I need more surgery I won’t be able to wear my new skimpy dress at the wedding in September. We may not even be able to go to the wedding – if I have an Engelbert put in, he will need to have silicone pumped into him every few days.
2. How can I keep going on dates now that the cancer has flared up and there will be more surgery. I’ve been meeting chaps and in my mind I’ve been on a break from treatment. And now I’m not. Now more treatment is inevitable, and soon.
3. If I can’t go on dates then what will become of this Blog, just when it is taking off?
4. Chemotherapy didn’t work really – so hopefully they won’t put me through that again. Can’t have more radiotherapy. So presumably will have to grow another Engelbert and have more surgery. But there don’t seem to be many options now.
5. More surgery will be even more disfiguring. The scar line on my chest is pretty much up to my collarbone as it is. Any higher and I’ll have to wear polo-necks all the time.
6. It isn’t yet 6 months after radiotherapy, so I can’t have surgery on my right side until October anyway. The cancer may well spread further up my chest in three months
Writing all those down, I feel a bit better. What would be brilliant is a targeted treatment, something that could be injected into or rubbed on the affected skin to kill the cancer cells. Chemotherapy seems so invasive – unless there are more cancer cells elsewhere of course. As I watch the owner of the house zoom around on a buzzing tractor mower, the rumbling soothes me. I feel another list coming on, a Positive List:
1. If I need more chemotherapy, that is OK. Coped with it before, can manage it again.
2. Have a selection of beautiful wigs and will be justified in purchasing more wigs in different colours.
3. Am now skilled in the application of false eyelashes and even have a few unused packs of them.
4. My kitten is now almost an adult, will in fact be an adult by the time of any further operations, so he won’t be so obsessed with chasing the drain tubes.
5. At least I’m on this holiday and enjoying it and producing plenty of writing.
6. We are visiting a Vineyard on Wednesday. Maybe will meet the man of my dreams there?
7. Whatever happens next, am so glad am here. Have met some great people and am certainly making up for lost swims: swimming three times a day here.
8. Will be going in to any further treatment fitter and healthier than I was last year due to my amazing personal trainer.
It will be OK, somehow, I decide, as the sun comes out and the newly mown lawn is crisscrossed with shadows.