Looking back on last week I see it as an emotional transition. There was 48 hours when my brittle shell cracked and uncontrollable tears welled up from nowhere it would seem. I hovered on the edge of a chasm, bottomless yet seductive. I had set myself a kind of benchmark of 10 days post the last chemotherapy as a time when I would start feeling a little better and on the path to full recovery. It didn’t happen. The heaviness in limbs, muscle stiffness, joint pain, numb feet, tongue ulceration all continued unabated…It felt neverending; too much altogether. I rang the oncology team: ‘Why am I not coming out of it? Why am I out of control emotionally? Can I still ring you now I am finished chemo?’ They were there for me just as they have been throughout. “Jude you will have pain and symptoms for another 2 weeks. It will be 6 months before you feel well. People like you who have been so focused and stoic often have post traumatic stress reactions at the end of treatment. You are going to be okay. Hang in there. Do something creative today’. I rang my cousin, who is a counseller, and raved and cried all over her for some time. She knows me inside out and understood deeply what was going down. She gave me a drawing task. ‘Not paint as the easy flow may let the boundaries go even more. Choose pencil, crayon, texta – somthing more contained and stick to symbols’. I did that – with crayons. Looking at the drawing late that night when I could see the page as a whole, rather than the random images I had put down with speed, I saw that the black death symbols were all squeezed into the left hand side of the page, the right side had a red tower of too-muchness crashing down into a broken egg, the centre was filled with big blue tears that cascaded, as it happened, onto the bottom of the page where it looked like they were watering the black stump with the green leaf. There was a big red foot in the middle of the page that looked like it was claiming the ground. What a hoot is our hard working sub conscious mind! ‘There is more living than dying in this drawing’ I thought. (I can see Margi Brown Ash smiling from here). As I started to emerge from the fog the next day I felt more stable and back to the one-day-at-a-time-let’s-be-thankful-for small-changes routine. But I felt different- I had reconnected with my feelings and Mike noticed more of my old tenderness back rather than the distant steely survival mask I had been protecting myself with. I then had an appointment with the nurse in the local family medial practice that is supporting me. She talked about support groups and services. I stopped her in her tracks- ‘Hang on I realise that my brain is rejecting this information. Surely it is over now. I don’t need services, the treatment is finishing’. I had the shock that I hadn’t accepted the fact that I am probably on a 5 year process where there is a chance (30% without radiation, 5%-10% with) of a recurrance of cancer in my body. I hadn’t owned up to that really. I was living with a fantasy that I was just going to pop out newly formed and walk away into the next 20 years of productive life. In a flash I knew that I somehow have to keep that hope alive and still be humble and realistic enough to plug into the ongoing support structures of the cancer survivor network. The lessons keep coming. Thanks so much to those who are staying with me on the journey. I feel your presence and support in a real sense.