Archives for posts with tag: Breast Cancer

”She has a lump on her – her breast, like a gull’s egg.”

”Your mother has a cancer.”

‘He was silent. The whole room was full of the silence and the weight of what she had said lay upon him.’

In Black Sheep, Evie has noticed her mother-in-law Alice’s increasing fatigue and weight loss – ‘Alice looked as if the tiredness had settled in the marrow of her bones.’ Not content with her husband’s diagnosis of ‘ailing somehow’, Evie challenges Alice to share what she suspects her mother-in-law has been suffering from, and which she has hitherto been hiding:

‘The swelling was the size of an apricot, pushing against the skin.’

What particularly moves me about this passage, is how both women immediately, and silently, acknowledge the significance of the swelling. Reminiscent of Susan Sontag’s kingdoms of the ill and of the well, with a very narrow gap between the two, the chapter ends poignantly, and tenderly:

‘She put her hand on the other woman’s arm and rested it there, and so they stood, both silent, as if they were staring into the depths of the same river but from opposite banks.’


I happened upon this BBC Radio 4 drama today. Written by Morwenna Banks, who is best known for comedy such as Absolutely, this is an intense and very moving portrayal of the experience of living with cancer, breast cancer in this instance. Lizzie, wonderfully played by Olivia Colman, initially has a cancer ‘scare’, which appears six months later to have been a mistaken dismissal of a malignant tumour as benign. She proceeds to chemotherapy, and to much else, including sickness, hair loss, and all the attendant anxieties and terrors that inevitably accompany her, her family and her best friend Jen.

I was surprised how moved I was by this fictional story. It felt real, believable, and so very sad. Yet there is a redemption of sorts too, and so it does leave one with a reassuring and plausible sense that life is challenging, difficult and sometimes tragic.

And so you just get on with the whole business of it, really.

Go listen…