I stared at the floor, as the Doctors words washed over my head. Doctor Williams had been my GP since I was a toddler. He had treated me for chicken pox when I was seven, he had advised me on vaccinations before my Gap Year in Thailand and had politely not laughed at my blushes when I enquired about the contraceptive pill.
There were no silly jokes or friendly winks today, his smile was betrayed by pitying eyes. Terminal cervical cancer. I blinked, waiting for the news to hit me. You imagine you might feel hysterical, angry, upset. Something; anything. Instead, I felt nothing. There had to be a mistake, I calmly told myself. I wasn’t going to die.
I was twenty-five. I’d not gotten married or had the children I’d already named. I hadn’t passed my driving test, bought a house or bungee jumped. I had plans. Lots of plans. Old people died, sick people. Other people. I didn’t feel particularly ill. Tired, perhaps but nothing coffee wouldn’t cure. There had to be a mistake.
That was four weeks, two days and a handful of hours ago. I had ‘text book reactions’ according to the therapist Dr Williams insisted I see. Nice to know I’m predictable to the end. I shut myself in my room for a week. I cried, I shouted – at mum and dad, mainly – and I refused to answer my phone.
Slowly, that helpless, heavy weight which had settled on my chest began to shift. I was going to die. It stopped being overbearing and became fact. Just like I have brown hair and green eyes, there’s nothing I could do about it.
I keep a diary and in the back I jot down my hopes and dreams. Where I’ll be in five years, ten, twenty. As my tears blurred the ink, I realised solemnly that time was running out. There were two options, spend my last days hiding beneath my duvet feeling sorry for myself or I could make every day count. It’s a weird feeling, knowing that whatever you do there can be no repercussions.
I flirted with the man who works at the Pizza shop, the one I’ve always liked but never dared let it show. Even if I made a complete fool of myself, there was nothing to worry about. I’d be dead soon, no blushes then.
I told my best friend, Amy who looked at me like I was crazy, but suddenly everything was clear. It was like I had uncovered all the secrets to happiness. I stopped worrying about the little things. I ate plates piled high with pasta, no longer stressing about carbs. I got my hair cut into the style I always wanted but never dare. I sang karaoke, I danced on tables. I spoke up. I told the lady who pushed to front in Asda, to get to the back. I wore bright red lipstick every day and stayed up all night watching old movies. I swallowed my pride and apologised to everyone I had ever hurt. I did everything I was always scared of. All of the things I wished I had done sooner.
It’s a weird feeling, even though I know I’m dying, I’ve never felt more alive.