Radio Routine – Breast Cancer Part 12



Simon Patterson, ‘Cosmic Wallpaper’

My brain runs riot, my eyes jiggle and jump. My dreams are escape plans to nowhere; reconsidered, reconstituted  relationships; obstacle races through unfathomable mazes. 
My heart pounds, my head aches. I’m coming off Citalopram.

Must drink more water.

My weekdays are anchored by radiotherapy. 45 mins to Barts, 15 mins lying down, 45 mins back. I commute to the city. Every afternoon. For three weeks. Men in suits, women in trainers, me lying down, discussing Spain with my tits on show.

‘You’ve got a lovely tan.’

They talk to me like a child.

‘Don’t worry about the big machine, it’ll come close but it won’t touch you. It makes a whirring sound.’

They draw lines on my skin, mark me for placement. Green light-lines trace my torso. My eyebrow itches, my nose twitches. I stare at Simon Patterson’s ’reconfigured celestial constellation’ in the light-box ceiling and decide it’s a  map of Prog Rock. Art therapy for the drowning. Suddenly, I’m deep in the system and the reality of my diagnosis bites through my blasè veneer. I’ve had cancer, didn’t know I had it, ergo may have it again.

At home in the bathroom, I spread ice-cold Aloe Vera gel on my breast to prevent the worst of skin damage – burns, blisters. My fingers trace the scars, nervously notice the rearranged flesh beneath the skin. The dips and furrows. Will a lover ever discover this?

Must drink more water.


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