25/04/16-Radiography department Fitting Room: I can’t help but wonder just how many people of all ages and backgrounds have sat on this (let’s be honest) pretty shabby, worn, plastic coated blue bench before me?
How many other anonymous souls have passed through these large unremarkable hospital doors, undressed behind these nondescript curtains and waited here like me, to be fitted for treatment?
How much hope has been harboured here?
How much strength garnered here?
How much courage screwed to the sticking place here???
…and to what end?
This rambling old building, infamous throughout the region, her name synonymous with cancer long before I understood what cancer was.
So I wait in the small but significant space between the doors from the waiting room and the doors to the radiography machinery.
I wait quietly in my faded, pale blue and white stripy hospital gown; my own clothes and belongings in a green plastic shopping basket at my side.
I find myself focussing on a small hole which has formed in the fabric where the cotton weave has worn threadbare from the constant, high temperature laundering it has clearly endured. I think of how ‘threadbare’ I have become through the constant, intense chemical laundering of my cells by the chemotherapy I have endured.
I pull the gown more tightly around me and imagine I’m pulling the threads of myself together again, closing up the hole worn through in the fabric of my being.
I stand and face myself in the mirror: A stranger stares back at me. Faded, shaven headed and clad in stripes, a uniform that describes me but will not define me. My own personal holocaust.
Just outside the door, the chatter of those who have already grown acclimatised to the daily routine of radiotherapy crashes through my private thoughts. Their easy lightweight banter seems incongruous. Discussions about travel and traffic; peak flow, rush hour and alternate routes.
As this old cancer hospital slowly introduces herself to me, sense by sense, I find she is in the midst of her own course of treatment.
The sound of the overhaul travels through her walls, down her staircases along heating and ventilation systems.
The sound of the old being dissected and ripped out.
The sound of the clearing out of year upon year, layer upon layer of those lives reclaimed here and those deaths she has nursed here.
How many hopes have been dashed here?
How many lights have faded here?
How many disfigured ghosts have been made here?
I take a moment…holding them all.
I hold them closely…then a deep breath and slowly and tenderly I release them, sending them on their way, knowing I cannot afford to think on them again…