Body, Breastless, Excisions, Journalling, Medical Humanities, News, Self-portrait without Breasts

Final preparations

Tonight I launch my pamphlet Breastless (Pighog Press) – a selection of eleven of the Self-portrait without Breasts poems alongside some of Laura Stevens’ photos, together with an article by Gareth Evans on the science of hereditary breast cancer. Five years ago I was in the last few weeks of preparing for surgery. 24 Nov,… Continue reading Final preparations

Body, Journalling, Medical Humanities, News, Self-portrait without Breasts

Decision

The truest decisions are discovered, not made. They form when you're looking the other way. You simply need to recognise them. It was a very good friend who helped me realise that I had already formed my decision to go ahead with the surgery, but that I just couldn’t speak it. Now the other decisions would… Continue reading Decision

Body, Journalling, Medical Humanities, News, Self-portrait without Breasts

Holding my breath

I’m doing a lot of breathing exercises and voice work at the moment, in preparation for various readings and performances – the launch of Excisions tomorrow September 16th, then the first performance-with-photos of Self-portrait without Breasts on October 4th. All through autumn 2006, the weeks of decisions and waiting, I had to remember to breathe… Continue reading Holding my breath

Body, Journalling, Medical Humanities, News, Self-portrait without Breasts

Fear

The modern word 'fear' is descended from the Old Saxon word ‘var’, meaning ambush. I found I was strung out between different fears, feeling ambushed time after time: chronic fear of developing breast cancer, fear of the effects of that on my family, fear of taking preventive action, fear of making the ‘wrong’ decision, gut-wrenching… Continue reading Fear

Body, Journalling, Medical Humanities, News, Self-portrait without Breasts

Questions, questions, questions

There were so many questions to ask about my situation, and so many answers that could not be given. Living with the questions was the only way through. 26 July 2006 This journal is becoming vital. I can sit and weep, I can regret the bloody genes, I can say that every bad joke and… Continue reading Questions, questions, questions

Body, Journalling, Medical Humanities, News, Self-portrait without Breasts

Scars

I’m lucky, my scars are quite neat and flat, and the incision lines themselves now silvery. The scars are not quite symmetrical – the surgeon said that’s because my breasts weren’t quite symmetrical. 28 June 2006 This morning I woke thinking about breasts and femininity – how empowering to have breasts, but how potentially empowering… Continue reading Scars

Body, Journalling, Medical Humanities, News, Self-portrait without Breasts

Looking back

Five years ago, I was trying to decide whether to have preventive bilateral mastectomy. Here's the first entry in the journal I was to write for eighteen months. 27 June 2006 I am contemplating having my breasts removed. Elective surgery. Still an op little known here in the UK... at Guys Hospital four or five women… Continue reading Looking back