Fruit of my womb
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But the womb is a fickle friend. Angela's womb once gave her babies, but now it has cancer in it. Motherfucker. She just found out today, so she's in a bit of a daze. Understandably. Going through the motions, kinda blank. Diffidently.

I tell her she should have skipped work and spent good time with her husband, maybe drinking a little. Or a lot. She replies she would only think about it more at home. It's not every day a woman gets that news. Yet loads get it every day. Breast, womb, cervix, womb, breast. Why is it always the womanly bits, the baby bits, the life bits.

The womb is probably the only part that men don't have a swear word for. Maybe cos it's inside. Maybe - just maybe - because it's special.

We take care of her - don't leave her alone - keep talking - try and act normal. But normal's no fucking good today, is it? Bloody abnormal, isn't it? Abnormal cells - grow grow grow. Never die, die die the way healthy cells do. Cancer is immortal. Its own death is switched off.

Paradoxically. And tragically.

But not quite immortal. Our ingenuity has if not conquered them then at least given the buggers a fright. With ricin. Such a nice name, yet such a deadly poison. Natural as well, they tell me. Kills all human cells. Dead. Like Domestos in the lavvy. Bang. Dead. Shut the lid. Deader than dead. Deadest, dude.

And a nice dose of ricin can be shipped right into the heart of a cancer cell as easily as a boot virus into your BIOS. With monoclonal antibodies. That sounds good for her. Or hysterectomy - the misogynist's dream, but sometimes good too.

Later she comes to my work area to count some money. But not just that. No-one's said anything very useful yet, and we're two hours down the line - into her new life. It's time to kick in, and take that frightening chance you gotta take, treading so so gently on the crushed crystal of her dreams.

"You're gonna hear a lot of survival stories from now on, Angela," I say. "So here's the first." I tell her about my dad and his lung cancer and how he survived 15 years and still going. "And lung cancer's by the far the most threatening," I remind her, pointlessly. But that one was said recently elsewhere, raising hopes ending up sadly vain. But you got to try. And she's a damn fighter.

She smiles a bit and cries a bit. We cuddle while the bingo numbers hiss round the hall. Legs eleven, six and nine, full house. Of course it's not me she wants, it's her family. Right now she's with them. I love them all.

    

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