Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cracks in the Pavement - A Brief Wallow

Sometimes events conspire to make you feel really superstitious.

When I talked to a psychologist about my cancer she told me that "cracks in the pavement" type fears are the most primeval of all.

Well I've just got my new passport back. (The picture is awful, but I didn't take it - I couldn't face setting everything up with a white backdrop etc.) And I've found it quite chilling to look at the changes in my face over these last ten years, my face a little thicker, eyes a little less sparky.

But somehow it feels very good to have a piece of paper that says I can travel the world until 2017!

The fact that my passport was expiring around my 5 year survival point really did feel like stepping on the cracks in the pavement. What made it worse was a woman I got to know when first diagnosed. She claimed our prognosis was similar, if not the same, because I had such a lot of lymph node involvement and she had less, but had a higher grade of breast cancer.

My brain knew this wasn't logical or indeed true, it merely put us in a similar band of statistical risk, and after a while I just had to break away from her as it really wasn't helpful for me to hear these sorts of messages, or to be told I was lucky to be married with a child. (There are no winners in cancer, whatever your life circumstances. And having cancer when you have children is as heartbreaking as not having them.)

Sadly this person died this month (after making a number of very different treatment choices to me and putting up a fantastic fight - I don't usually use this kind of language re cancer, but in this case it was true).

So my new passport feels like a very life affirming thing - which is equally daft, but sometimes it's the crazy things that help you make sense of life.

And it took a lot for me even to write/admit to this irrational thinking - but light and fresh air are very good at blowing the cobwebs away.


Blogger f:lux said...

I have to renew my passport in a couple of years time, and I'll admit I am considering growing my hair again, to see if I can get away with the same photo as last time! But even then, passport photos are not made to be looked at by anyone but customs officers and ilk - it's the passport as a whole that's the thing?

As for writing about irrational thinking... ahem... I see nothing wrong in it, but then who am I to comment? ;)

4:07 pm  
Blogger Verilion said...

Like your psychologist said irrational thinking is something we all do. Well done on reaching five years and here's to filling that passport ( :

5:36 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

Flux, Yes and customs officers never see middle aged women - we just get waved through. good luck on the hair growing. Your young enough to get away with the same pic I'm sure.

Verilion thanks on both counts.

6:04 pm  
Blogger blkbutterfly said...

something about this post was very... poignant. i can't quite place my finger on it right now, for whatever reason.

at any rate, congrats on making it to the 5 year point. :-)

7:01 pm  
Blogger Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Some beautiful things have come out of irrational thinking. Rationality 24/7 is not all it's cracked up to be.

I can't believe how loud my cat is snoring right now.

9:16 pm  
Blogger Cybez said...

All I can say is GO and travel the world until 2017! and have fun when you're doing it :-)

10:55 pm  
Blogger PI said...

Sometimes, as self protection, you have to avoid people who pull you down although I am sorry your friend didn't survive. I remember the thrill when I got a visa from the US Embassy granting me unlimited access to USA. Those days are over in more ways than one.
Enjoy your travels - you've esrned them.

10:15 am  
Blogger apprentice said...

Thanks BB,I find it helpfl to name my fears these days, then they seem to shrivle up and go away.

Sam, I can hear that pussy cat over here, she wouldn't want to step out of doors either as it has rained solidly for two days

Thanks Pat, yes the world has really shrunk hasn't it. When I was a kid flying home from Africa we hopped from Ghana to Tripoli, to Rome, to London!

11:31 am  
Blogger Lucy said...

I'd hardly call that wallowing, even briefly!
But it's always good to let light and fresh air blow the cobwebs away.
Bravo Apprentice, and I'm expecting to keep on seeing you here well beyond 2017, except when you're travelling the world of course!

5:33 am  
Blogger apprentice said...

Thanks Lucy -the 5 year thing has really been praying on my mind, in part because of its use in all the survival stats.

And when you're fisrt diagnosed other folk with the same illness seem to hold out some of the answers, or at least fellow traveller understanding, but in time you come realise that those you remain friends with are people you would have liked irrespective of cancer.

9:25 am  
Blogger Cailleach said...

no - I just hate passport photos. Either looking like a criminal mugshot or not even like you're supposed to be. Mine is one of when I was 'letting my hair grow' and I really cringe every time I see it.
But you've turned yours into a small investigation of how far along you've pulled along the way. Travel well and safely!

10:55 am  

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