Not sure what to say …
This is the first panel as I had made it up earlier, as they would say in the best Blue Peter tradition. Since this was taken I have added a photo of Spencer, the teddy I sent her and who went ‘with’ her at the end, and a dragonfly because she sent me a lovely ‘jewelled’ one which I have hanging on the wall next to this computer. The reverse is a 12″ x 12″ plain panel where I can include some writing, either done by hand or using a transfer sheet which I used to get Spencer’s photo on there.
But what do I say? Something a bit more general, or use her own words about her MBC experience?
Can we ever really tell the truth of what the experience of having incurable breast cancer is actually like without hurting others; after all it is only our side of the story, and the problem with that story is the trouble we, or at least I, have articulating how I feel, what I want and so on. How often am I asked how things are going, to which I just say that I am ‘plodding along’. What exactly does that mean? That things are ok and just a bit boring at the moment? Or that I am struggling and just putting one foot in front of another? To be honest I am not sure that even I have the answer to that one. It is like the question of whether it is insensitive, or not, for someone to say ‘you might be hit by a bus’ before you die of cancer. Hmmm. Some are highly offended and deeply upset by this metaphor because when you have cancer you know that the bus has left the depot even though you have no idea how long it will take to get to you. The rest of the population still thinks the bus is at the depot with a flat tyre and a broken fan belt (do buses even have those these days?).
There again, why ask how someone is if you are not prepared to listen to the truth? Yes, I know it is a social convention. One of those throw away queries which actually doesn’t require an answer, but if you are asking someone with a serious illness you should be prepared to get a serious and real answer. The same could be said for the reverse of the quilt panels. One of the motivations for this Quilt project is to show the human face of MBC; to show the people and the lives that it has cut a swathe through, the ties of blood and friendship that it has severed. This is not Barbie Pink, and there are no cheer leader pompoms with upbeat stories and asking for all the survivors to put up their hands. This is dark, bruised pink with bouquets of shredded tissues, tears and silence. It is a weepie movie, but with no happy ending. There is the person missing at the birthdays and graduations; the person who won’t stand proudly but tearfully at the wedding, or hold that new born baby.
How to show that breast cancer isn’t candy pink? Where are the words to tell my friend’s story now she has been devoured by the Pinkness Monster?