Maybe I need to begin with the here and now. Because right here and right now, my dear, dear reader, I am currently taking a journey back into Cancerland once more. My destination is unknown but I'm hoping that it won't be a one-way ticket just yet. A recent scan showed a new tumour (or as one of my oncs likes to politely and eloquently put it, 'an increased uptake in one of the mammary nodes', so it's no more capecitabine and lapatinib - two low-key drugs that I thought I could be on for a very long time. It's hello
But it is as it is. And after shedding a few tears and entering some very dark places over the last week where I contemplated not just my own demise but the effect that me not being around would have on my family, most of all my very young son, I picked myself up, brushed myself off, put the fighting gloves back on, and decided to enrol in... some meditation classes.
Why meditation ? Well, I've tried everything else - the juices, the turmeric, the acupuncture, the aspirin, the fruit and veg, the chinese mushrooms. I've done my oncology homework and have read up on the treatments on offer. I've tried yoga, pilates and running. I've done the rational and the physical but not the spiritual. And the truth is, I'm stressed. So this week, after wisely booking a week off from work, I try out two classes at the local Buddhist centre. The location is a beautiful old church and once you're inside it feels like you're a million miles away from the busyness of London life. The classes are held by a buddhist couple and we are taught how to listen to our breathing and relax our bodies. It sounds like easy stuff but as everyone who's ever tried it knows, it's damn hard to empty your mind when you're constantly being bombarded with niggling thoughts and worries. I try and it works for a short time, but I find myself thinking of that lovely pair of shoes that I very nearly bought when I should be relaxing my toes and heels. When we're told to focus our minds on our stomachs, I start to think of the ingredients of the stir-fry that I'll be tucking into later that evening. Perhaps I'm just too practical to ever be a master of meditation but what I do discover, on returning home, is the effortlessness that I fall into a deep sleep once I'm in bed and my head hits the pillow. I continue concentrating on the breath and only thinking in the present. And do you know what ? It actually works. I use the same approach when I'm lying on the radiotherapy bed waiting for the machine to zap me with photons. I'm told not to move and I almost fall asleep. So, even though unlimited amounts of meditation is very unlikely to cure me, I'm hoping that it will make my everyday life a bit easier to cope with. And it's a damn sight cheaper than a pair of Kurt Geiger shoes.