Friday, December 28, 2007

I Know It's Not a Virus, but...

... we've just heard of the third friend/acquaintance/colleague to undergo surgery for breast cancer in the last three weeks, plus another, a few weeks ago whose lump turned out to be benign.

When I was first diagnosed, it was not uncommon for people to respond by adding me to their list of friends/acquaintances/colleagues with the disease. Or they might claim that breast cancer was a virus, or imply there was something about my lifestyle - my workplace, the time I spend in front of a computer, the way I worked - that might have caused the cancer. Suzanne, my surgeon, said simply, "we don't know why anyone gets breast cancer". The ABC studios at Toowong in Brisbane have been closed down, but to date, no reason has been found for the extraordinarily high incidence of breast cancer there. It's called a "cluster".

Of course I don't want to see my disease as anything I brought upon myself. Though I am full of determination about keeping on trying to simplify the way I work, to say "no" as often as I can (which still won't be enough), and to try and live more calmly. Will this keep any recurrence of the cancer at bay? No one knows, but I'll feel less at the mercy of forces beyond myself.

I am in the process of moving into my newly painted study, and making all kinds of ridiculous resolutions about keeping it clean and beautiful, as I get ready to pick up the threads of various writing projects in the new year. I do get things done, and I do meet most of my reading and writing deadlines, but I am not at all organised or disciplined about it. I have learned to respect my own work patterns of displacement activity (e.g. I have only written half that sentence but if I just go out and look at the goldfish one more time then when I come back I will bring it to a ringing final cadence), and even the longer-term patterns of the big halt halfway through a book. I wrote ten thousand words of my book on Gwen Harwood then threw them away and started again. I stopped Congenial Souls to have Joel and really struggled to pick up and find a way to finish it. This book on the Garter looks as if it will have suffered a similar hiatus, as a result of the horrible year I was having at work before I got sick; and then getting sick; though I think I am almost ready to pick it up again.

Anyway, at the moment only beautiful and clean things are allowed into my new study. This is not exactly "before and after", as the "before" image represents the rock bottom of the re-structuring. Literally. The old house had not much in the way of foundations apart from the rocks you see here:



And here is a glimpse of the "after", in the same corner.



The fireplace will re-appear, just as soon as we find a little extra money to install it. And for hot days...



I'm so entranced with these beautiful green walls I don't want to put anything in the room that isn't silver or grey or green or white. Luckily the computer qualifies...

I have a single gardenia on my desk and it's filling the room with its sweet white fragrance.

And I'm thinking of my friends and colleagues and acquaintances, and thinking of my life a year ago, and hoping they will be able to come through the next year into a similar place of peace and promise.

2 comments:

Nicholas Gruen said...

Lovely lovely walls. Calm and beautiful. Strange isn't it? Well done!

Ann O'Dyne said...

Congratulations on having created your beautiful room; and your Christmas lunch looks wonderful

(a first time visitor, I arrived here via Pavlov's Cat, and I enjoy reading blogs for the education and the humour)

peas and love,