The cancer came.
I sat in the garden and cried into the asparagus, wondering if I would live to eat the tender spears.
Through chemotherapy the garden offered up ginger for nausea and watercress for soup. I had no energy. I resorted to weed killer, leaving the garden bald and barren.
When the fever came I rode it, hoping it wouldn’t become life threatening neutropenia. There was too much rain and the garden became waterlogged. I sweated. The fever broke. Three of my four tumours were gone.
Before surgery I hurt my elbow when, with a sudden rush of adrenaline fuelled energy, I pruned the apple trees and set aside the wood for smoking. After surgery the rain kept coming all through summer and the garden became wild and overgrown. I looked at the vegetable garden and remembered that chick weed is good for healing.
I started daily radiation therapy for six weeds. There was no time for the garden. No energy for the garden. I fought fatigue to dig the miracle of untended potatoes and to harvest joyful mandarins. The brush turkeys dug holes in the lawn. The wallaby ate the day lilies.
Slowly I recovered. I felt a little stronger as autumn arrived and the claret ash turned the same shade as my irradiated skin. I made soup from Jerusalem artichokes and fed scraps to the worm farm. I shared tamarillos grown from seed beside the compost bin. I made jam. I harvested pumpkins and put them on the corrugated roof to sweeten. The pumpkins rotted out from the base and I fed them to the worms.
My one year scans showed something unexpected. Probably fat necrosis said my surgeon, or dead cancer. Maybe something in-situ. Nothing to worry about. Take another slice like the magic pudding and all will be well.
I wondered if this scar would be as good as the last one. I tried to do some mulching but I was sill too tired. I went to the nursery and wasted money on plants that died. I surrendered. I organised for someone else to come and help. I went for surgery. This would be the end. All would be well.
The pathology said the cancer was back. The doctor said mastectomy. I sat in the garden and cried. The garden cried with me. Both of us, poisoned, flooded, burned, pruned and neglected. Both of us desperate to live.
I woke up without my breasts in a room without plants. I opened the shutters to look at the sky and the trees. A crow came every day to sit on a TV antennae outside my window, broadcasting a message I didn’t understand. The pathology came back. I was cancer free.
After eight days of care I go home tomorrow. There is a storm outside. The wettest day all year. The wind will rip through my garden. When it stops I will go outside and start rebuilding. I will put my feet in the soil. The magnolia blossoms will be destroyed. The daffodils will be ruined.
It doesn’t matter.
I can enjoy them next year.