Delia

Before I had cancer I found it very difficult to deal with other peoples' experiences of cancer. I had a very good friend, who was always full of laughter. She was in a terribly difficult situation, with small children, her husband wouldn't acknowledge that she was ill and she had no one to look after her. She talked about when she was going to get better, but she was too ill to have chemotherapy and she died. Unbelievable really because she was so full of life. I felt so sad that she couldn't talk about it, and she knew she was dying but she just couldn't. And when the person can't say it, then it's really hard for someone else to say it, especially when the family didn't want to believe she was dying. I believed I just couldn't get cancer, so it was a shock. I thought I was going to die, some people felt I would be okay, and others were quite sure that I'd die within a couple of years. I thought I was going to be dead before the millennium. I also noticed that people were talking about me as if I was dead, you know, 'isn't she a wonderful woman', and 'isn't she courageous'. My picture is called 'Facing Life'. I realised a year after treatment that I was really looking over my shoulder, expecting to die. I had this real vision that I was going to be buried in the churchyard in my village.

Then one day I went to my therapy group and somebody else was talking about facing life. Suddenly it clicked that's what I wanted. I wanted to face life. I wanted to turn my back on expecting to die and I had this real vision, of myself standing on this hill, with my arms outstretched, receiving the sunshine and the light. Absorbing them and turning away from death, that was what I wanted to do. I've finished that phase and the support was wonderful when I was ill, the whole village was behind me, but now it was time to move on and face away from that. I do have a real sense of light and adventure and who knows what is round the corner. I suppose I'm a child of the sixties, my hair is all flowing and gold. It's a very spiritual picture; I had a very strong sense of this, like being on the Downs, with its very short grass and full of flowers. It felt very powerful and very positive. There's always a shadow behind you; you've got the odds stacked against you more than the next person has. I saw the darkness, the dark blue behind and this other hill, as the shadow but I hadn't intended it. I could not be facing that way. I'm glancing over my shoulder to see what I really want. The yellow shines so brightly it's like a sun, and it looks like a body halo, an aura and that's how I felt, a kind of guidance and light.