My second piece of confessional writing appears in issue 3 of Noon and deals with a considerably more recent epiphany: the moment last year when I was informed by a surgeon that I had a ‘non-benign mass’ nestling in my colon. I have posted material on this blog about my progress last year with Mistress C, but this is the first opportunity I have had to write about for print publication and I am very grateful to Jasmine Raznahan and Hannah Barton at Noon for giving me the opportunity to do so. When they first invited me to contribute material for their SS15 edition, dedicated to the theme of ‘Modern Love’, I almost hesitated to suggest that I write about my time with cancer. They proved to be genuinely enthusiastic about the possibility, however, and immediately saw how it would fit within the context of love in a world where shadows are growing longer. Our conversation gave me an opportunity to outline my thinking on how to approach writing about something as subjective as the experience of serious illness.
Drawing upon notes and journal entries written mostly in hospital wards and waiting rooms, ‘Mistress C: The End of the Affair’ is partly dedicated to those who have encouraged me, either in person or online, to write about my take on cancer. This short essay is only the first tile in a greater mosaic that I will be returning to over the coming months – I hope I will have the time to complete it one day. The text is also partly dedicated to ‘R’, who was with me the whole time and is still around to offer insights into what I have composed so far. It is entirely possible that people will disagree with how I have written about my diagnosis and surgery (placating the chemotherapy gods for six months deserves a story in itself) or may not recognize their own experiences in what I have to say. If it furthers greater dialogue about what is widely perceived as one of the physiological nightmares of modern times, then I am content.
My sincere thanks are due to everyone at Noon for treating the text with consummate respect. You can obtain issue 3 ‘Modern Love’ from the ICA bookshop and Tate Modern or order it direct from their website or from Antenne Books - make it your spring and summer reading.