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DepressionDiagnosisGoing through treatmentLife after dischargeOesophagus cancerResilience

Snakes and ladders

20 March 2018


















Looking back 8 years on April 29th 2009 my life had a blowout. I was diagnosed with oesophagus cancer. Life is like the board game snakes and ladders. Life began again for me at square 1 on the 29th of April 2009. The photos are of my achievements since then as you don’t take photos of your failures. The funerals are of friends who weren’t as lucky as me, but who made an impact on my life. The mental mountains I had to climb and the many ways I tried to adjust to a new me and a new way of life. The things I’ve learnt along the way and the random snakes and unexpected ladders that presented themselves.

The blow up was the beginning of the thing, that was diagnosis, that was diagnosed and hey presto that’s the horrible thing. Treatment ended in February but I still had so many appointments for side effects and to try and because I collapsed and I ended up back in hospital but it was about six months afterwards, after the end of treatment that things actually started.

The ones at the funerals show funerals at different times, I kept losing friends, people that had been with me on the journey. So they disappeared. They’re just pictures of the graves and the funerals of people. If you survive and you survive it, you want to thank your lucky stars because I didn’t fight any harder than the others. We all fought just as hard to, somehow my body and the chemo and everything worked and for them it didn’t. All of them were given an all clear, both of those two were given an all clear, in fact three of them were and then it came back.

The one of me in a suit looking a bit thin, that was my first business lunch after a time, after treatment and I felt really, really ill then. It was the first time I went out and that really worried me.

The dog is the trust I had in people and he was a friend’s dog but he used to come around and just sit very quietly and lick my hands or just be there and that was, he was, we used to take him for a walk and it was, I found it difficult to get out and do things so when he came and I went for a walk, although he tired me, he helped me build up energy and when I’d built up the energy you’ve got the race for life and that’s the race for life people and I actually did do a race for life about four years ago.

The snake that comes back down to the beginning of chemo was like the depression, it actually comes down to square number 4 which is probably where the depression sets in, soon after, after the end of chemo but at the beginning of realising that life wasn’t quite going to ever be the same again and not knowing how to deal with it.

One of the things I did on the way, was to learnt how to read tarot, the chemo guy told me you’ve got two tarot cards the ups, the wheel of fortune which represents the ups and downs and that represented learning to read the tarot cards and then the other one with the can’t see the woods for the trees. Like trying to go through a wood but feeling as though you’re not getting there and feeling a bit down about things, you are actually getting there and if you just, if you could just see the other side of the woods you’d know you’d made it but you just keep, you’re not seeing what you should be seeing.

Things aren’t always what they seem, a situation that looks boring and ordinary can be the jewel you need or the key to a new life if you just see it in a different light, this picture is actually a plain grey cotton vest top which cost a £1, under a black cardigan, but in the photo, which I took by accident, it looks like a glittering necklace. When I saw the image a few days later it made me realise that situations have silver linings if you just see them differently.



Lizzy, oesophagus cancer survivor