My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.
It's like they say about soldiers coming back from war. People all around you are dying. Really dying, Eric. You go in for a week's chemotherapy and you're in a ward with people who are really, actually dying, there and then and doing their best to come to terms with it. When the week's up, you go home and you see your family and your friends and everything's normal and familiar. It's too much. You think - one world can't possibly hold both these lives and you feel like you're going to go crazy when you realise the world is that big and it can fill with the most terrible things whenever it wants to.
Cancer seems a high price to pay for an innocuous-looking habit. You get into smoking and you are robbed of the last 25 years of your life. Some cocky souls will say, 'Ah yes, but they are the worst 25 years.' Nobody feels like that in a cancer ward. There are no cocky souls in a cancer ward. But there's a lot of pain, not just of the excruciating physical kind that they shoot you full of morphine to smother. There are a lot of tears. All round. It is hard to say goodbye to the people you love. And it's scary. Cancer wards have a way of knocking the cockiness out of you. And for what? Another cigarette?