Without a doubt, the diagnosis, from the first whisper of the word to the staples it left across my broken body and the breathless fear it placed in my broken heart, the illness, from the early discomforts to the crippling pain, the loneliness, as my world evaporated around me to be replaced by doctors and hospitals and pain and endless bad news, the loss, so massive I still cannot speak of it, this experience has changed me.

I am fundamentally a completely different person to the girl I used to be. I was told that there is a before and after. This is true of both life and in my case, of self. I can barely recall the girl I used to be. I see her in photos, I don’t recognise her. I cannot remember what it felt like to be in her head. I have dreamlike memories of what it felt like to be in her heart, before it was broken into a million pieces, shattered and lost, and became mine.

Through this awful, awful year, my gentle heart was broken irrevocably. Broken, beaten, stamped upon, suffocated, my heart suffered the same fate as my body and mind. The pain, worry and fear was unrelenting, not for a moment, an evening, a night to sleep would I be allowed to rest. The bad news continued to rain down in a hostile thunderous storm conjured by the anger of all the Gods and creatures of centures of human belief and mythologies. It didn’t seem possible that such disaster, such violent catastrophe, such unjust pain, could be the work of just one malignant force. Quite simply, it seemed the universe with all it power, it manipulation of force and chance had come together and was making one thing very clear. I did not belong here.

I cried every day, and every night, for a year. My tears were with me in every conversation, every phone call, every scene change. I took to wearing sunglasses, to hide the tears that poured down my cheeks as I sat in parks on benches aimlessly during the day, watching dancing children and oblivious adults pass by me. Every so often I would see a perfect swollen belly, a new life growing in a glowing, happy mother and I had to look away.

Even now, I can still taste the pain.

I cried rivers of pain, loss, fear and loneliness. As I became more exhausted by treatment and more resigned to solitude, my tears became silent, but still they poured down my cheeks, day and night. No one would ask why I was crying.

Im my appartment, a haven I used to love, alone in the evening by candlelights, my sobs became more and more desperate, turning to screams. Often my neighbour would appear at my door, herself in tears too.

In hospital my sobs instinctively turned to wails, wails to desperate, screams. For the first few nights there, trapped in the dark, I sobbed and screamed with every ounce of pathetic humanity I had left in me, with every laboured breath. No one came.

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