Cancer is a House Fire

Yesterday was a fun-packed day, with my first physio session in the morning and then a Look Good Feel Better workshop in the afternoon.

Physio felt like a step in the right direction towards recovery. Even though I’m still waiting to find out my Big Scan results (which I should know about this afternoon, gulp!), there’s something about focusing on ways to strengthen my body after it has been ravaged by both cancer and chemo which feels innately positive.

I’ve been trying to put into words why that is and how, despite people constantly telling me so, I’m not ‘starting with a blank slate again’. The explanation I’ve come up with so far is this;

Before cancer, my body was a well-loved, well-lived in home. It had it faults here and there of course, but those quirks made it even more my own somehow. At night I would sleep peacefully knowing that it had never let me down, and I’d do just enough to take care of it and keep it comfortable. I didn’t need to think about it much, other than very superficially, and worrying about this reliable, familiar place was very low on my list of priorities.

But cancer is a vicious and devastating house fire.

At first it went unnoticed. Silent tendrils of smoke licking at the walls, and small flames creeping their way through each room. By the time it was caught the inferno had a firm grip and was raging uncontrollably, wreaking immeasurable damage throughout the place I called home.

All my loved ones can do is watch helplessly and comfort me as the fire crew do their best to bring the blaze under control. For the moment, this place does not belong to me; it is out of my control and out of my hands.

Some of the fire fighters’ tactics are to fight fire with fire, which weakens the structure of this place I call home even more. We just have to trust that they know what they’re doing. We won’t know if it’s worth it until they’ve put the fire out. We don’t even know if they can put the fire out.

If they do manage to banish the blaze then what’s left of the place I call home will remain to be seen.

One thing’s for sure; my home will never be the same again. The damage done by the fire is extensive, reaching deep into the framework of the building and destabilising its foundations. Repairs will be structural as well as superficial, taking a long and painful time to reconstruct the bare bones of the building into something close to their former selves.

Even once repairs are mostly done, and the wreckage has been swept clean of the debris and smoke damage, the place will never be the same again. There will be weak points where once there was strength. Rooms that can no longer be used in the same way. Cracks will appear every now and again for the rest of time, and I will never, ever be able to trust that the fire won’t return. I’ll never be able to fully inhabit this space, to relax, without worrying about what’s waiting for me around the corner.

Time will heal some of the discord and unfamiliarity. I will relearn my home’s twists and turns, its inconsistencies and quirks. I will make the effort to fall in love with it once again, and will take far better care of it than I did before. The fire, whilst traumatic and utterly devastating, has afforded me a number of life lessons and I will never, ever take my home for granted again.

6 thoughts on “Cancer is a House Fire

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  1. It breaks my heart to read this Ceri …. your description is so easy to understand … (as one of my grandsons favourite songs says) “I want to build you up brick by brick” ….
    Always wishing you the very Best Xx


  2. That analogy was amazing, you’re amazing.
    If Starship can build a city on rock and roll, then Ceri Jenkins can rebuild a body/house/holiday home by the beach.


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