I had to go to the brand new multi-million pound cancer centre yesterday. It's where Dr. Hard Hat and Wheelbarrow lives, and I had to see him for my half way check.
I didn't think it was necessary to drag anyone there with me - Husband is away on business, mum was looking after the kids, and most of my local pals were working, so I went on my own.
Camped out at the entrance of the very grand building, were a group of pyjama-clad baldy patients attached to drips, sucking on cigarettes. They scared the life out of me. I felt like I had entered a scene from Schindler's List. Hollow eyes and despair looking straight at me. One lady, unintentionally I'm sure, even seemed to look angrily at me. I wanted to turn on my heels and run.
The lobby inside is spacious, airy and light. Its a bit like a railway station, and people look like they're checking train times - but they're not - they're anxiously reading the signs for where the hell their appointment or treatment is. Women cling onto their husbands' arms. They're trying to look brave, but you can see that they're scared out of their wits.
Fortunately, I'd been here before so I knew where I had to go. Turn right down a corridor, past the hats, scarves and turban shop on the left, and through the door into the out patients waiting room. I checked myself in - it looked pretty quiet - then sat myself down.
It was then that I realised that the little 'I'm going to cry' gremlin had made an appearance. 'GO AWAY!' I yelled in my head, but he wouldn't, and big tears whelled up in my eyes.
I hastily grabbed a hanky out of my pocket, stood up, and made my way over to the wall of glass that looked out over a nice courtyard area. Other walls of glass looked out over this courtyard, and I could see patients standing at their windows looking across to where I was standing.
I moved away from the window, and took a seat as far away from anyone as I could. I composed myself, told the little gremlin to bugger off, and decided to focus at the walls. There were posters - 'Catch it, Bin it, Kill it.' Bloody swine flu. There were rows and rows and rows of leaflets - 'Don't ignore bowel changes,' 'Detecting Mouth Cancer,' 'Preventing Cervical Cancer,' 'Its Cancer, You're Bound to Have Questions...'
I tried to look away, but my eyes kept drifting back to the walls - Cancer, cancer, cancer - everywhere you look. You've had cancer, we're treating you so that it doesn't come back, but just in case you weren't scared enough - Welcome to Cancer World, where we scare the crap out of you to make sure that you can't get away from the fear!
I got up again, sat down again, got up again and paced up and down. The waiting room was starting to fill up - more victims piling in. 'Don't forget to grab a leaflet,' I wanted to say - 'Just in case you weren't quite terrified enough.'
My name was called 2 or 3 times by a very quiet, neat little Indian man, and with relief I followed him into the consulting room. He was Dr. Hard Hats little helper and he was lovely. He flicked through my notes, had a chat, said 'oh yes mam' a lot, looked inside my scabby cardboard-tasting mouth, then said that he'd see me a couple of days before my last treatment. I was in there for about 2.5 mins.
I didn't exactly sprint out of Cancer World, but I left very rapidly, trying not to get captured by the cancer guards at the front doors. I did, however, take the stairs 3 at a time up the 12 floors of the multi-storey carpark to get to my car. 'Let's get the hell out of here,' I said to the gremlin.
You'll not believe me when I say this, but as I left the city, the heavens opened and it POURED with rain. As I got closer to home, I could see blue sky and sunshine ahead. In the rear view mirror it was BLACK. I drove into the sunshine, just in time to follow the school bus into the village. The 9 year old was waving to me madly out of the back window.
THIS is my world, I thought, - no matter what anyone else tries to tell me.