‘And an excellent and moving read it is too. And edgy, witty, informative, counter-hegemonic…’ Dr Alec Grant, Reader in Narrative Mental Health, University of Brighton.
One of my doctors in Mexico told me that cancer was a mensaje, a message. This piece of work (in progress) is my interpretation of my healing journey and an exploration of what that message was for me. From a crippling fear of doctors and medicine to profound gratitude and wonder at humanity’s dedication to preserving and improving life; from anxiety and despair around my identity to feeling comfortable about defining myself as spiritual as well as a human being, one responsible to and an inseparable part of the whole of our increasingly fragile biosphere.
Everything changed for me when I began to see my body as an intrinsic part of nature, one which I’d neglected and abused through ignorance, and which desperately needed my conscious attention. Just as care for our world springs from the love of it, I hadn’t understood, and was never taught, that self love was a prerequisite for self care. Cancer gave me the opportunity and time to heal the unhealed trauma of being sectioned under the Mental Health Act years previously; to begin to unravel the root causes of the extreme psychological distress which had culminated in an attempt to take my own life and to reclaim the truths of my psychotic ‘highs’.
I am incredibly grateful to all the medical professionals both in the UK and in Mexico that have kept me alive, the healers who have supported and facilitated my emotional healing and to my friends and family for their and love and support. Last but not least to my husband Steve Ashmore, who has done more for me than it seems possible any human being could ever do for another, without complaint, stifling my apologies, loving the me that no illness can never change, and in the most colourful of circumstances, reminding me that ‘It’s only your body.’