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Today I sent an email to the parish council begging them to allow me to keep an easier route into my allotment that my son made for me, and they have ordered me to take down. It’s just a gate that means I have direct access, rather than keeping a long path clear of brambles, nettles, and the constant results of fly-tipping, which is the most difficult thing to deal with.

I asked them in the light of my terminal diagnosis, and that I think it’s a reasonable adjustment for them to make, as I am now legally disabled.

It made me cry writing it. Whenever I tell someone I’m terminally ill, I stay calm while I say it or write it, and after a few minutes I cry.

Mostly my immense grief at the cutting short of my life is hidden from me, but at these times it comes pouring out.

I suppose it’s unbearable for me to be in touch with it more often, but stating my situation makes it impossible for me to ignore and pretend it isn’t going to happen, which is mostly how I deal with it, or rather don’t deal with it.

But this strategy does make it possible for me to live my life, to work, to have ordinary, fairly trivial conversations with people, about my allotment, the state of the government, or whatever we chat about that in some ways is the stuff of life.

I’ve shown the email to a few friends and my partner, and they all think that the council can’t possibly say no after this revelation. I hope they’re right.

I have strong feelings about the unfairness of their decision, because 3 other people have put gates in the fence and it’s been allowed. It’s one of my bugbears, and I don’t understand how they can do this, a public body.

It was a very difficult decision to “ come out” to them as terminally ill, as though it’s something to be ashamed of. And maybe I am ashamed. I sometimes feel and even say that somehow the cancer is my fault, which is absurd. I don’t smoke, I eat well, there’s no obvious reason why I should develop cancer, but I have. Another unfairness, but I don’t expect life to be fair. I do expect the parish council to be fair though.

I can’t make sense of the shame , although there has definitely been a tendency in the past for shame to be attached to cancer, illustrated by people using euphemisms like “ the big C” and so on. When I think about feeling shame, I feel angry. To feel shame on top of having cancer seems like kicking yourself when you’re down.

Sometimes I find myself apologising to my partner for putting her through all this grief and anxiety. To which she replies “It’s not your fault”, which I know, but the feeling that it is can pop up at any time.

Something to work on in therapy, I think.

Copyright Tuppence King

By Tuppence King ©

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