With Game of Thrones shining down upon us and consuming our thoughts, I feel I’ve had my own experience in the Seven Kingdoms during my 9 day stay in the hospital after my double mastectomy operation.
Waking up in a delirious morphine daze, I tried to figure out where I found myself as I looked out from my Iron Throne on wheels. I soon understood I must have been North of the Wall as the Nurse’s Night Watch systematically woke me up every 3 hours to prod me with their life checking devices.
On my third night there, I caught my first glimpse of a White Walker. Statuesque with long white hair, she suffered from insomnia as she strode up and down the ward all night, carrying a plastic bag which she constantly rustled wherever she prowled. Under the blue emergency night light, she appeared icy and otherworldly as she stopped in her tracks at the end of my bed, slowly turning her head to look at me whenever I made any movement. From then on an eye-mask and earplugs saved me from many other scary White Walker encounters.
My dearly loyal Mother, Ward-en of the North, came to visit me everyday and on the 7th day, when I was well enough, she helped me escape and venture South of the Wall. After what seemed like a long journey to me, we finally arrived at Tavern Costa-Lot to quench our thirst. Still weak with my back hunched over, I shuffled in and I immediately noticed how the normal folk stopped what they were doing and stared at me like the Wildling I was. I felt like I was covered in Greyscale.
Sitting there silently sipping my hot drink, I realised why. My hospital gown, slippers and robe along with being Stark naked of any make-up and accessories had made me look like a typical “cancer patient”. For the first time ever on my breast cancer journey, I received “knowing” cancer looks where their heads, weighed down in sympathy, tilt as they give an awkward Mona Lisa smile before their eyes dart away. I realised when it came to cancer looks I knew nothing, like Jon Snow.
I turned to my mother: “See those “knowing” cancer looks? Well, they don’t know that I rocked a TV chat show last week!” as we both giggled quietly to ourselves. It goes to show, you can’t judge a book by its cover. It also stressed to me the importance of my blog’s message; that the strong inside you has to be mirrored on the outside. I realise now that not only a weak exterior but also those “knowing” looks can pull you down like an anchor. For the normal folk reading this: when you see a “cancer patient”, though our exterior may appear to be weak at times, there is a roaring Lannister lion inside. And we like proper smiles.
Watch my Chemospiration TV interview filmed 10 days after my last chemo treatment and 10 days before my cancer operation:
On the 19th December 2014, three days after my first chemo session, I recorded myself playing Game of Thrones Main Theme on the piano. I knew “Winter was coming” and that a tough 6 months lay ahead of me but I was determined it wouldn’t knock the music out of my soul.