The Aftermath

by Emily Francis Gude

‘The aftermath’ (portrait of self)
50 x 60cm oil on canvas
Emily Francis Gude ©

Breast cancer is hard.
The diagnosis which brings thoughts of death and dying.
Chemotherapy which strips away physical strength and beauty and imparts side effects galore.
Surgery, the amputation of a body piece which is seen as part of the definition of femininity.
Radiation, the repeated daily exposure and burning of an empty chest.
And the aftermath.
Feelings of freedom and gratitude but also a culmination of side effects, loss and concern.
Coming to terms with lost time, more than a year disappearing into constant appointments, treatments and side effects.
Left feeling exposed and vunerable.
Chemically induced menapause with fluctuating hormones and all night hot flushes.
Chemo brain, a distinct gap in synapses, trying to find words and forgetting simple things.
A certain inner lethargy from the treatments.
Grieving for a breast lost forever.
Shaken confidence.
Finding a place for the fact that one has been through ‘cancer’.
The subconscious mind struggling to merge with the conscious mind with what has happened.
Real, hard acceptance of mortality.
The fear of reccurance with every muscle pain or headache that lasts for more than a day…
The treatment is over, the direct side effects subsided and a different journey begins.
A time when compassion, care, love and hugs are needed.
If you have a loved one or friend who has had cancer reach out with compassion and hold them close

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