In a bid to reset my life and my Voice from this day, I need to travel back in time to an event which impacts my every action; my very being: my childhood cancer. The photo shows me in the lovely and then very fashionable cheesecloth shirt and green skirt, during the summer my hair was growing back after 18 months of chemotherapy, and getting ready to start secondary school. What follows may or may not be the start of a book I am planning, along with my parents, to write in the near future…
‘The cold, smelly, waiting room was empty; it was late in the evening. I remember being given a band to wear around my wrist with my name and 3AB. I didn’t realise it then but 3AB was to be a ward which would become my second home. It would be somewhere I would spend many weeks. I would have a new family there. I would make so many new friends.
I also didn’t realise it would be a place of memories. Forty one years on (on 11 February) and I still remember the ward as if it were yesterday. I can picture the various beds I spent time in; the kitchen where I made popcorn with the nurses and my fellow patient-friends; the playroom where I spent ages making flowers out of pencil shavings; and the treatment room where I received many tortuous treatments. As I write, I can taste the toxic drugs flooding my veins, ready to speed through my body in a bid to destroy the bastard tumour that was filling the space between my fifth and sixth left ribs.
Ward 3AB at the Hospitals for Sick Children, lovingly and more commonly known as Great Ormond Street, deep in the heart of West Central London, was to be the place I called home for the next two years. The hospital would be in my ‘heart’ for the rest of my life.
My family would be changed forever with the events which followed a seemingly minor accident in 1976. There is no concrete proof that this caused what followed, but it was deemed highly likely by professionals at the time and my gut has always told me this was true.
My life since has been shaped by that day and made me who I am. I am a fighter, a survivor… and this is my story.’
I may be autistic, and it may be a part of me but it is not the only thing which influences who I am. I have come to realise this more and more over the past couple of years, and have decided that some things I can try to change if I choose to. I can’t blame all the negatives in my life on a diagnosis, or two, or three. To be fair I never have and I refuse to do so. Whatever diagnoses I have had in my life, and there have been many, there have been challenges to live with, perhaps to overcome, and to at times to celebrate. A recent controversial posting of mine on a support site for partners of ‘aspies’ (I hate this term) led to much moaning, some comments of support and some comments of indifference. We can’t blame our diagnoses for everything in our life, but there is no doubt that life is heavily influenced by them. Sadly my posting was in response to complaints and frankly many nasty aspersions about ‘aspie’ partners, which in my opinion, and many others as it turned out, were simply a way to blame bad human behaviour on a diagnosis and remove all responsibility.
Look out for my continued story… until next time
Check out my website www.theautisticvoice.co.uk