The Swallow

When I was 8 years old I told my dad that I wished I was a swallow.

When he asked me why, I couldn't understand how he could not see their beauty. The way their feathers gleamed with the beautiful blue and their tails forked showing strength and an almost royal demeanour of pride and honour.

'Every winter they go away to South Africa to keep warm,' I told him. I wanted to go away to South Africa every year too, see my family there. 'They can fly 600 miles a day,' I remember squeaking at him.

My bedroom window looked out on farmland, fields and trees to the horizon. And I would stand at my window, a young girl, watching the swallows fly and dive above the woodlands below. I would always know when winter came because the trees would turn golden and the birds would leave, flying to warmer climates to wait out the British chill. Then, when spring returned, so would my birds. And then again I could stand and watch them hunt and hear them sing.

Swallows have always been special to me. For as long as I can remember I have worn a delicate swallow on a chain around my neck. They became a mantra of summer for me, of the cold hard times ending and the sun coming out again. My fight with cancer has been the lowest point I've ever been at, the coldest nights, the darkest days, but now that it's passing, summer returns. The swallows will come back. The sun's rays will fall again upon my happiness. So when I am sure I am in remission, when the doctors can turn around and say I am free again, I want to get a small tattoo of a swallow. Just something I can look at that will remind me of the battle I have faced, the darkest time in my life, and how the summer has returned, bringing the swallows with it.

True hope is swift and flies with swallow's wings. - Shakespeare


The General

With Remembrance Day so heavy in everyone's hearts at the minute, a song has been echoing around and around in mine. 'The General' by Dispatch. I fell in love with this song for the music, the rhythms, the beats, but then I heard the words and I just fell deeper. The last few months it has just been on almost constant repeat inside my head.

The song tells of a seasoned general in the army who wakes up on the morning of a great battle and tells his men to leave him, there is no life in following someone's orders, dying for someone else. They are young men, they should be living.

As the general talks to his men;
"He said: I have seen the others, And I have discovered, That this fight is not worth fighting. And I have seen their mothers, And I will no other, To follow me where I'm going. So take a shower, Shine your shoes. You got no time to lose, You are young men, You must be living."

Music is a soundtrack to my life. In a deeper way than normal. When something happens to me, I have a song that makes that situation make sense; love, heartbreak, moments of happiness and pain, joy and sadness, everything I go through I remember through the song I linked it to. And if I can't find one that's right, then I get out my guitar and I write one myself. Music gives me other people's experiences, other people's insights and I find my way through with their help, or I share in the happiness that we have both created individually.

This song captured my view on life - Don't waste your time following in someone else's footsteps, and I love it for that. I love it for it's strong sense of decency and the strength behind the words; for the way this is a story, not just a song; and lately the line "You are young men, you must be living" has struck a chord.

I am young. And I'm going to enjoy living.


I Want, I Want, I Want

I want to moan and cry and grump and bitch to somebody. But I think they're so used to me being the one who puts up with everything that their own worlds would come tumbling down if I let mine slip. So I guess I missed my chance there. And who would I moan to anyway? The mom that I constantly have to reassure that I'm still around; the dad who's too laid back to notice; the brother who's not around; the friends who are 300 miles away; the best friend who's having a rough enough time herself; the beautiful boy who doesn't need my insecurities. So I suppose that's why my thoughts are here. Stupid as it sounds, these little paragraphs every once in a while are what I need to clear my head.
So I'm here, I've got a place to moan and cry and grump and bitch, what next, what do I say? Well I could start with,,,

I'm fed up.

I'm bored.

I'm tired.

I want my life back.

I've realised recently that I don't need the incredible things in life, I don't need beaches and sunshine and seagulls, I just need space. I want time to myself, time to do stupid and pointless things.
I want to wander around expensive shops and look at all the things I could never afford, then go to the shops within my budget and buy something pretty, something that isn't on sale!
I want to go for a run. I want to feel alive again, running into the wind.
I want to spend a whole day doing what I want to do, sleeping all morning, watching crap tv, eating junk food, not going to hospital.
I want to sit in the window of a quirky little coffee house with my hands wrapped around a steaming mug of hot chocolate as I watch people pass by and make up stupid stories for them;

- That young couple have to get home Right Now because if they don't they're going to fall upon each other and undress in public.
- That pale girl with the long dark hair covering her face and the bambi eyes wonders when he will notice her and pull her out of her daydreams, and why can't that moment be Right Now.
- That little boy has to drag his mom to the toyshop so badly he's almost pulling her arm out of the socket because if they don't get there Right Now then the new video game will be sold out.
- That lonely woman with her pink umbrella and her grey hair and her dark clothes mourns a world that never gave her the true love she always saw in the movies and doesn't want to do anything Right Now or ever again.

I want Right Now back. I want to have a Right Now, a Right Now that doesn't involve hospitals and sickness and family and other people. Is that ungrateful? I seriously appreciate everything that everyone has done for me,, but just for a little while, I want to be free of all that, independent, my own person.

I know, it's been I Want, I Want, I Want... What can I say? I'm just that kinda girl!



Radiotherapy is hard. It's an endless cycle of treatment after treatment and journey after journey.
It's hard to accept that that is my life now. Or at least for the time being. An hour and a half to the hospital, half an hour's treatment, an hour and a half home again, then sleep. I sleep so much it's hard to believe. I have no energy to do anything else. Even moving from one room to another is an effort.
But the hospital itself… that's strange. It's corridors, and happy music, and lights off then on again, positioning on the table, treatment that makes blue lights dance behind my eyes, and clacking heels down the corridor, and laughter with the radiographers, frowns and groans in the changing room. Smiles in the waiting room as everyone has a kind of camaraderie, we're all in this together, all us sick people being cured. Grimaces as we are alone, each of us unwilling to wish this on any one else. Cause yeah, it's a painless treatment, and it doesn't take long, but it's later, it's life outside the hospital that stops. You can deal with the treatment, spending time at the hospital, because you have to. When you are home, when life is your own again, your energy is gone, your eyes are tired, your stomach, your throat hurt, but that is nothing compared to the nausea and the perplexing sleep depravation - eight hours a night is not enough, I need at least 12.
We can deal with the hospital. But on the outside, there is nothing, we are empty shells.
And I'll be honest; if I have to be a shell, I'd rather be one on the beach!



I love him. I love him with the whole of my heart. I love him to the point where it hurts.
I feel like I will never be alone. Like I will always have him who understands me to the point where I don't even have to speak and he knows what is in my head. My heart soars when I think of him and dream of him and when I look at him I forget how to breathe.
But we are apart. Separated. Split by hospitals and 300 miles. And when it isn't distance that keeps us apart, it's life itself. He runs and swims and surfs and does things as ridiculous as the Ironman challenge. I'm stuck doing nothing but waiting for the next day of treatment, getting tireder by the day, staying with the family, slowly having my life sucked away.
I want to give him the world. I want to run barefoot in the sand with him, chasing tales in the rain. But I don't know how. I just hope he can forgive me, and remember that if I'm well again... well then the world is his!

* Footnote: Ironman = a crazy triathlon of 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle and 26 mile run - one after the other, no break, no rest, just pure relentless fitness.


Don't Leave

You woke up and said, "Baby I had one of those dreams again.
The rain came down and I lost you in the wind."
You said something about, "Don't Leave," before you fell back to sleep,
Before I could sing my song back to you.


Deep Reflection

Today seems to be a day of deep reflection. A day of hiding under the covers and pulling the curtains closed, hiding the sunshine behind them. A day of researching new people and new books to read. A day where I'm shutting out the world and hiding. Because today everything seems too hard to face.
Pain is back today. Pain that makes it too difficult to contemplate moving, but which is fine so long as you stay lying down and motionless.
It's days like this that make me miss the old days so much more. The days when I would get up every morning and run 5 miles like it was a click of the fingers. Those are the days I lived to be a contradiction. I'd skate and surf and run, swimming in the sea, living outside, laughing with the boys. And then I'd become a structured and strict ballerina with perfect lines and pointed toes, a trampoliner, pulling shapes and somersaults in the air as though I was weightless, and a teenage daydreamer, staring out of the window at the clouds as though they hold the secrets of the world.
See everyone thinks I'm so strong. I'm the tough girl who can throw back a quip and laugh at the pain. I'm the one who takes the biggest falls off the board, comes to the biggest scrapes but gets up and laughs it off.
But I'm not really who they see. I'm the geeky kid in the corner who loves to write, the one who hides out in the library looking for the books that will change her life. I'm the quiet one who thinks too much about everything. I'm afraid of what people think of me. I'm afraid of falling. I'm afraid of everything. The trick is just not to let people see.