Hark Publications: Coming to my Senses: Finding my voice through ovarian cancer
“I found it exciting to read about her inner struggle, her courage to face very painful decisions. She talks openly about how everything that we do in life comes with a price tag, and only if we are willing to face this and the consequences, can we truly be healthy and take control of our lives, including our bodies. I have not had to face a life threatening illness, but I found that when she shares her deepest feelings, she speaks directly to issues in my life.” (extracted from Amazon review).
Not Italy, although Italy was OK, but I was too distracted by her pasta eating …
But in India her journey deepens and so does her writing. Maybe she planned it this way, or maybe it was happy coincidence. Nothing, I have learned recently, about this book’s arrival, was coincidental.
Writing like this:
“If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be … a prudent insurance policy.
I’m not interested in the insurance industry. I’m tired of being a skeptic, I’m irritated by spiritual prudence and I feel bored and parched by empirical debate. I don’t want to hear it anymore. I couldn’t care less about evidence and proof and assurances. I just want God. I want God inside me. I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on water.”
I want to be clear at the outset: I’m not angry with Jade Goody.
I think we’ve all heard the news that Jade Goody has been given only weeks to live, after her cervical cancer was diagnosed as terminal. It’s very sad. It’s hard to avoid knowing this as it’s been made news by all the mainstream newspapers, who this week published her story on their front page.
Why is this story front page news?
Cervical cancer has been struggling, like ovarian cancer, to be given the profile that breast cancer has. And the reason it hasn’t until now is because the number of women diagnosed each year is not in the tens of thousands like breast cancer. Therefore it does not attract the same level of government funding, charity funding and fundraising, magazine coverage and corporate sponsorship.
What makes me angry is how the British Government has suddenly decided to pour more money into cervical cancer screening. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Why does it take a celebrity to raise the profile of this disease and ‘force’ the Government to act? Are celebrities becoming more influential than patient voices? Answer yes, especially when that patient is a celebrity.
You may be saying, ‘well what’s wrong with that? At least some action is being taken’. But what about the other cancers that don’t have celebrity names attached to them, like ovarian cancer. 7,000 women are diagnosed per year, with a pitiful 5 year survival rate, yet because no big name is prepared to speak out about her experience, ovarian cancer does not attract the funding other more high profile cancers do.
The profile of cervical cancer just got a shot in the arm because Jade Goody has sold her story and wedding to the papers, and she’s done that because she’s hired an expensive PR agent.
What about the women who don’t have PR agents? What’s the vehicle for their story?
I’m the sort of person who takes notice of sign posts. Not the driving kind, but the metaphysical kind. I’ll be reading the paper and suddenly, boom, there it is, embedded in the article I’m reading will be a ‘code’ that only I recognise. It may sound weird, but it’s more common than you might think. Some people call this coincidence, some call it synchronicity. I know when it happens to pay attention.
Which is why I recently began re-reading a book I read in my early teens: The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner. The farm is in Africa, South Africa. I lived in South Africa for several years in the late ’70s, all through the apartheid years, emergency rule, and detention without trial, where people weren’t murdered in prison, they ‘slipped on a bar of soap’.
Being an artist and writer then was almost sure to get you detained, and so I learned to hide my ideas and opinions, keep them quiet, silently driving them underground. Years later I discovered that doing this had forced a separation between my own eye and ear, an apartheid within myself. I knew my ‘tapestry’ was full of what I now call ‘broken colours’, and not just black and white, but how to breakthrough …
Then I remembered reading The Story of An African Farm, and the stories of Lyndall and Waldo, unlikely soul mates whose lives reflected their frustrated quest for a better reality, and their dreams of self-fulfilment. As I read it again, I felt the resurgence of my own outrage, my passion for creating, my desire not to be silenced, sealed off, to express myself through bold and outrageous colours.
This was originally intended to be my painting blog, but now it's also about writing, what we ache for, and everything else important.
"Your paintings are like auragraphs. You pick up the information from the person and express it through art. However, they are on an altogether deeper level - not dealing with the outer projection of ourselves, not even with the spirit, but on a soul level. They are soul reflections".
Mary Clair Kelly, Cruse Counsellor