We're all imortal (in our own eyes)

by Hilla Duka


Before I found out about the cancer, and how it had spread, I knew something was wrong. I’d been ill for ages, nearing on three months, and was just not getting well again. I’d leave Milo at nursery, go to work, and by the time I got off the tram I was exhausted, blood pounding in my ears, my head light, almost dizzy from standing up too fast.


I remember sitting in the car with Ilir one day, and hearing myself say the words “If I get well again”. I remember sitting up at night too ill to sleep, writing down the time, my symptoms and what drugs I’d taken, remember thinking to myself “I wonder how ill you have to be to call an ambulance?”. I remember feeling that one breast was swollen and strange, and even though a small voice in my mind said I should get it checked because it could be serious, I didn’t really believe it. All of those things told me something was not right with me, but in no way did I ever think it was cancer, and terminal. That’s the thing though, we never think it is.


Because disasters happen to other people, not ourselves. We don't get raped or abducted or killed in accidents and we don’t get deadly diseases. All of these things happen to other people, it’s default in our minds. Only one day, we awake to find that we are indeed the other people.


I took this picture a little over a year ago, in London. I was there for work, not feeling great to start with, and coming down with tonsillitis during the trip. Too ill to go out or meet friends, I spent all the time I wasn't working in a hotel room shivering from fever and feeling wretched. And I knew things weren't right. I just didn't know how wrong. 



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