Here are some words from text messages, emails and letters I received on finding out the diagnosis, whilst in hospital and afterwards. Collating them all was carthartic at the time, and I used part of it for an art piece later on. I still keep a record of everything that was sent me. It helps to look back at times.
Pissing shitting bollocking cancer Damn it. What a christmas present. What a new years surprise.
thank you for telling us – it cannot have been easy to write that mail. I doubt this mail will help much – its an immediate emotional response, probably saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. But I just want you to know that I care & that I’m here to help in whatever way
I’m so sorry, I want to give you a great big hug and tell you it’ll be ok
It really is so unfair and horrible
It’s not a burden it’s a way to show we care about you.
You're a tough little cookie and will get through this
Goes without saying we're all here if you need anything, will be thinking of you and love you lots
Can I have a biscuit?
I keep thinking about how positive you have been recently, with the course and then J and also your new found modus vivendi with E and E, and i hope that you can hang onto a little sparkle of those feelings still, despite the major hitch of being diagnosed with breast cancer. I also keep thinking about all your amazing photos and I hope you take your camera into hospital with you! I have also been thinking about the sunny days in Soller and the warmth of the friendships. We are all so concerned about you and want you to know we are there to help in whatever way you want, even if what you want is space. We've dissuaded A from dropping in unannounced!
Oh no.that is worst case scenario.totally unexpected, i find this hard.oslo was just a dream,dont worry.ur health is most important.
You are one of my strongest friends and you will be positive and come through it and i will be right behind you!
we shuda met ten years ago.wed hav had a laff.its harder now 4us both.
Oh my georgous lovlyest mate! I was so shocked 2 hear about this from D I couldnt concentrate after he told me! I really felt weirded out and wanted 2 cry in the class and shout "FFFUUUUUCKKKK....WHY does it have 2 b Helen? Its always the nicest that have 2 go thru the REAL CRAP!!!!fuck fuck FUCK!!!!!"
Morning missyLove u too. Sorry if wobbly when u went. Just want to keep u so we can drink wine forever ! X
Yes. Think we need her 4 pure entertainment! Can u imagine... It will b ' who is in charge here?! V glad about her! I clapped my hands!
love you love you love you, see you at the other end. love you more. x x x ...
Been thinking of you all day. Lots of love. Hope they're taking good care of you
Hurrah ! So pleased i have u back. Hope hallelujah family have buggered off! Text tomorrow with any request! Love u madam mac. X x x x x
ur so strong+brave.im not like that.x
Was thinking of you yesterday as most people who i bumped into are. I hope you know how much esteem you are held in by your friends.....not just because of this.....but always!
Heard that you have been amazingly brave and positive. Hope you are not in too much pain. Would love to come and see you next week and will check timing with you. Must be so scary-thinking of you and sending you all the positive energy I can xx
Jane said to tell you she'll include you in her prayer meeting !! I said how lovely. X
Gr8 about biscuits! You sound gd. Forget cancer, how is the hair? Xx
Your 4:30 will be with you in12 minutes (forgot it's on a hill).
54!ur popular!my inbox is basicly just texts from u.
How's the most popular girl in hospital? Done enough socializing? How are you today and when are you home?
U r so busy! U have more of a social life in hospital than i do ever! Cool . Will c u later . X x
Cake a disaster ! May try to take pic to make u laugh! And because it is a disaster pope and i not on speaking terms ! X x x
hi helen... It was really very lovely to see you.... despite the circumstances. Didnt say this at time but it was also good to c u so bright and up. I thought u perversely looked very well!
Everytime I think of coming over I am reliably informed that there is a queue. I bet an audience with the Pope is easier. I have something for you and I need to get it out the house (you'll understand when you see it)
Your cleavage is taking on a personality of it's own Madam Mac !!
what a crazy time to get your head around - i can't imagine ... you're amazing me with your steadiness in how you're talking this through - you're some woman!
It was lovely to see you. I thought you looked fantastically well.
Cry, laugh, whatever. I won’t buckle, and I want to be able to support you. You are my friend, and I know you would do the same for me. I don’t think you are going to suddenly feel better about things, it is going to take some time...
Yes, it's crap. I'll be on the lookout for some funky scarves for you. Can you drink when you're having chemo? (obviously not while you're actually having it...)
am sorry to hear that you are feeling like this at the moment. the intensity and power of the emotions sweeps you away to a new place. You just have to hold on for the ride. I know about your inner strength and your resolve. I know that you are brave and fearless and that you will come through stronger than ever. What you should know is that there are lots of people out here who are plugging for you and wishing you better in no time
This is the quotation from the poem that our conversation reminded me of ‘…they, you will learn, have nothing, that have nothing to lose.’ It may not seem so powerful on its own but I was quite struck by it.
You always sound so amazingly calm about the whole thing.