Wendy Woolfson

Now I Write

So, this is what I do now. I write, I make art, I take pain pills four times a day and supplements throughout the day, and I live with chronic pain and hope that I’m not actually dying since I’ve now had two scans that say the tumour is stable. It’s a strange life to be living where I’m not working in a job where I’m connecting with people every day and helping them. Not supporting children and young people in my paid and volunteer roles. My attention is less focused on what’s happening within social care and the care system for young people. I feel like I’m slipping away from everything I’ve known and toward something new but I don’t quite know what I’m moving towards.

I work with my angel and tarot cards and guided writing and it all tells me to go with the flow and that a new life is unfolding for me. They tell me I need to trust in the process. That’s always good advice and my intuition tells me that I know that to be true, I always believe that whatever is unfolding is for the best but this is so big that it feels hard to take and to understand. How do I process this, a diagnosis of a serious stage cancer and no job? It’s been ten months since I went off sick, that’s almost a whole year of my life since it began to change. It’s the anniversary month of when I first noticed that my right eye was beginning to droop and I was getting headaches. A few weeks from now I called my GP and was referred for a CT scan and my whole life began to wobble.

Within that time, I’ve published a book, which was certainly an unexpected achievement and yet somehow I still feel empty, a hangover from my trauma whereby it’s hard to accept accolade and praise, even if I know it’s deserved. I get messages all the time from people telling me how much they love my writing and so I tell myself that this is how I reach people now. I write, and people read my words and they connect with them and it helps in some way. I love that, it’s great but it’s different from what I used to do and I don’t get to connect with them in real life. So, what do I do about this?

Nothing. I do nothing about it. Instead, I go with the flow and trust in the process, and I focus on healing myself. I need to heal myself somehow because I’m not ready to die. I have children who need me and whom I need. I want to do so much more even though the thought of moving beyond this life is beguiling. To be released from the pain and suffering and to go back home to where my soul came from. I believe that to be true; we’re all souls having a human experience and when we leave here we are leaving our physical bodies behind but our souls are eternal and they go on and on in their existence. The only question is, have I done everything I set out to do whilst here on this earthly plane, am I ready to leave? It always comes back to, no. Of course not, or I wouldn’t be writing this. This is my indicator, as long as I’m writing and creating art I’m here. As long as I’m loving my children, my husband and all the people around me, I’m here. Life for me now is at its best in many ways, if it wasn’t for the cancer. If it wasn’t for the cancer.

So, this is what I do now, I write and I make art, and tonight I am reminded by a dear friend how the sharing of my experience is benefitting others, including herself who went through a similar experience for many years involving chronic pain for different health reasons. We need to share our stories to support each other, to lift each other up, it’s how we survive. As humans we need to relate to each other and feel that we’re not alone. I know I need to feel like I’m not alone, and right now I’m struggling to be connected with other people with this type of cancer and this type of pain as my tumour is so unusual and rare, so I’m told. Today, I’ve been lucky enough to have been offered a second opinion from another specialist, so I’ve sent my information over to them and maybe something interesting will come up, we’ll need to wait and see. In the meantime, it’s more waiting and wondering whilst enduring constant pain. It’s like a marathon, and maybe that’s ok because in the past I’ve enjoyed some endurance sports, although I never did do a marathon! I know I have the capacity to keep going. It was an endurance going through trauma therapy for three and a half years and then there were all the years prior where I had my head down and was just keeping going without any help at all. Every day of those years seemed impossible and yet I survived. Therefore, I will survive this, that’s my logic, whether I believe it myself or not. I know I’m strong enough even when I feel I’m not.

Tonight, the wind is blowing a hoolie outside my window, on what is a rather inclement wild June night. I find it comforting as I now try to wind down to sleep.