Extract from my reflective journal Day 1 of 5 – November 2021
So this is day 1 of my return to hospital during my journeying with ‘the big C’. What a crass term eh? I was sitting in the medical bay a couple of weeks ago( amongst a group of patients) when an old pastor walked in. He (looking worst for wear) recognized me and said loudly ‘oh so you have the big C too?” …..The nurses were horrified. I didn’t answer but did a black woman’s – eyes up to Calvary grimace…. and thought ‘what the …. ?”
Of course he didn’t intend any hurt and he looked so ill, but if he had pulled up my blouse and revealed my bare brown boobies.. (yes i said boobies) in this public arena, I could not have been more uncomfortable and embarrassed , like you are now..!!! In any event, before today, me and he…. had not had such an interpersonal intimate conversation, – me being only clergy, Holy Ghost filled, single, divorced, black female, to boot. He being old school, Anglican lead, but just coming into Pentecostalism and all things new and happy clappy. Praise the Lord!! I didnt know there were so many labels or ways of being in Christendom.
I first learned about what was ailing me in March 2021. Right up to this point in the bay, I had not yet owned or given my illness a name, preferring to call it ‘poorly bones’ , because that is where it is and as far as I was concerned, staying, in my bones ; -It doesn’t engulf me nor define me and after all (I reasoned in my mind ) its not one of the other horrible types of ‘C’s’ you hear about. It’s not the ‘C’ that took my brother Charlie out.
But this thing is real. I now hear one in two of the population will have a diagnosis in their lifetime. Every person I speak to seem to have a story or a connection with someone who had it and that they are just itching to share with me ….including all the gory details ……It is as if they believe it will make me feel better.
I am trying to adjust myself and navigate how I get from A to Z.
So many questions and positions to review.
Is it okay for instance to continue to wear my lippy, dance and have hope? Or should I just lie down and die?
Is it okay to write a blog or anything, when you are certified as ‘off sick’?
How much and with whom should I share and where? Will my sensitive delicate bits be protected?
Are those who have held grudges to date, now laughing at my calamity? Is it the venom under their tongue (the spiritual wickedness in high places the bible talks about) which has caused this nasty ailment?
How can I safeguard and protect my private bits, whilst remaining transparent and open and whilst seeking to bring about positive change and learning for others. You know if you complain or point out… people close down..
At the time of writing, I waited over 12 hours for medication, despite my admission being a planned one and despite me having a care plan. There is no staff handover, no one reads the electronic medical notes. They want your hospital number, but it is just to fill in a box, no one does anything with it… I find.
“Pain…? (They ask incredulously)……What pain? They move from checking your teeth like a horse, to the regular blood pressure and weigh in. Are you male or female? Or are you in transition… 🙃Can you wash and wipe your own bottom? But pain? What pain? Who sent you?
If you cant shout out or up , it is not hard to see how many people die from hospital admission and/or cancer… but it is not always the illness that kills, rather the system and neglect.
I write with many hats on and sad to say neglect is both in the medical, social and familial field and within the spiritual faith structures. I am still waiting to get a get well card (or some cursory or social sentiment) from those I served with over 5 years and before lock down. But it is well.
This is my personal experience at a particular time and space and I too will have to give an answer.
Cancer …(there I said it …. ) is not ‘one illness but a malfunction of cells’, affecting people in different parts of their body and uniquely over time. The whole reason for my sharing is to seek to impact on service delivery and safeguards across the board and from the porch to the altar. I am a Christian so I speak and minister from that resource pool. May the leaves from this tree, contribute to physical, spiritual and emotional healing.
I want to acknowledge those who have shown me genuine compassion, care and practical Christianity over the last 3 years including my current employers. One couple drove 5 hours to donate a car to me … during the height of my illness. Ms Piggy (the car) now takes my zimmer… and me to and from my appointments and I will never forget this kindness. My lead nurse team (specialist outpatients) have also been exemplary, including a visit at my bedside when I was most in emotional need.
May those who care for others one day hear ‘ well done my good and faithful servant’. As you were doing it for me you were doing it for our savior. (Matthew Chapter 25: 33-40).
Some do’s and don’ts
I dont need an emoji handwave to show me you care, pick up the phone.
Don’t tell me you are praying by a WhatsApp message, ring me and pray with me.
Don’t add me to your prayer list by name without first consulting me or checking in with me.
More to follow this piece including
(i) the clumsy language used around the diagnosis
(ii) the personal and professional face of cancer,
(iii) loosing face, internalization and mindsets ie stinking thinking – life and death being in the power of the tongue
(iv) what to tell the world when the healers themselves get sick, or are hung out to dry by their own….
I hear the voice of the spirit . Let me end with the prayer that is playing on my heart.
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD
The Creator of ends of the earth
Neither faints nor is weary
There is no searching of His understanding
He gives power to the weak
And to those who have no might, he increases strength
Even the youths shall faint and be weary
And the young men shall utterly fall
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength
They shall mount up with wings like eagerly
They shall run and not be early
They shall walk and not faint
Father we thank you for in you is strength and power. We wait on you Lord because we know as we wait you are working out your purposes in our individual and collective lives. We know we are but feeble vessels and we stumble at times and fall, but we know it is your desire to lift us up and for us to increase in strength.
Lord in our darkest hours you are there. You are the light that shines and you bring clarity to our situation.
You are changing things right now for our benefit and we can say in respect of all eternal and righteous things, that they are working out for our good. You are both judge and jury and you will measure to every man his due when the time comes. You hold the scales and balances in your hands and when you rule, it is just. You never shut down a city without a warning. You sacrificed your own son for your purposes ie to restore order and to bring peace. You laid the original foundations of the world and you will bring in the new, when all things have been accomplished according to your will. All things were finished on the cross and we wait now to wit the redemption of our bodies.
Come quickly Lord.
We long for you.
We wait for you.
We wait for a time when sickness, death and disease will be completely eradicated and the earth will be filled with your glory. We bring every known situation to you and ask for remedy and release.
Your order is for obedience, humility and service done from a place of love and compassion. You lift the beggar from the dunghill and you set him amongst princes, time and time again. Do it again Lord. Show them your steadfast love for me.
Linda J UK