I’m a survivor
I’m not goin’ give up
I’m not goin’ stop
I’m goin’ work harder
The song blasted out of the speakers as Amelia gritted her teeth. The pain was almost enough to make her beg for a break, but not quite. Not when she was so close.
“Dig deep, Amelia. We are almost there”, her physiotherapist implored.
“I’m a SURVIVOR”, Amelia shouted breathlessly as she shuffled forward. Jane moved backwards, her hands outstretched. Not holding, but protecting from a potential fall. It was both a reassurance and an annoyance. Why should someone have to be ready to catch her all the time, why can she not do this herself, Amelia thought angrily. She fixed her gaze on the yellow curtains behind Jane, concentrating on the little red and blue cars that raced around the fabric. She imagined herself opening the door of a red car, sitting in the car without anyone having to arrange her useless legs, pressing the pedals and driving off.
What would it be like to drive a car? Would she ever be able to learn? She sank into a chair and laid her hands on her trembling legs. So much effort and she had only covered a few meters. She closed her eyes and laid her head against the high back of the chair.
Amelia was in a little red car. She drove competently and fearlessly, as she did everything in her life. The car was her route to freedom, to independence. Her favourite sound was the beep of the key when she opened her car. The sound of life.
She turned the key and heard the engine spring into life before releasing the handbrake and gently pressing the accelerator. She remembered the first time that she had driven a car, how she had struggled to coordinate the clutch and accelerator pedals, how the car had leapt forward then stalled. It had taken a few lessons before the driving teacher had asked about her coordination problems. He had noticed that she limped slightly, and asked cautiously if she had any additional needs that they should take into consideration. She had told him about her illness, about having to learn to walk again and he had suggested that they try her in an automatic car. From then on there was no stopping her. When she passed her test, her parents had offered to buy a little car. Amelia had just one stipulation. It had to be red.
Amelia pulled out into the stream of traffic, one eye on the sat nav as she negotiated the twists and turns of her route. When she stopped at a traffic light, she reached for the notepad where she had written down the address, to double check that she had entered the right house number. Scanning the houses adjacent to the car for any sign of a number, she grumbled in frustration. Why do people try to keep their house number secret? Aha! At last, she spotted the house that she had been looking for. Manoeuvring her car into a parking space, she cut off the engine then patted the dashboard, “Thanks, Robin”. Her friends may scoff at her naming the car Red Robin, but she felt he was more than just a machine and he deserved to have a name.
Picking up her bag and a bright red folder from the passenger seat, she swung the door open then exited the car. The house had an air of recent neglect, she noted as she walked to the door. The garden was beautifully laid out, but it hadn’t been weeded in quite some time. The hand-carved bird feeder swung empty in the breeze, the apples on the tree had fallen to the ground and were rotting there.
The door opened just as she raised a hand to ring the bell, “Hello, I saw you arrive. My daughter is sleeping right now, and I didn’t want the doorbell to wake her”, the house owner spoke softly. Amelia knew from her notes that the woman was in her early thirties, but she looked older. Her hair was unkempt, her face bare of make up. Worry had carved lines into her face, taking the place of laughter lines that she used to complain about. Now she would give anything to have them back, to be able to laugh so freely again.
“Hello, Mrs Williams. Nice to meet you. I am Amelia Brandon from CLIC Sargent and I would to explain about our charity, and how we can help you”.
“Come in, Amelia. Please excuse the mess. We only got home from hospital yesterday. If you don’t mind me saying so, I am a bit surprised at how young you are. I was expecting someone… “, Mrs Williams hesitated, “… well, someone more experienced in cancer care”.
“Oh, believe me, Mrs Williams, I have had enough experience of cancer. It is what made me what I am today, and is my reason for volunteering. When I was your daughter’s age, I was lucky enough to have the support of CLIC Sargent, and this is payback”.
Red Robin waited patiently for his mistress. Eventually she appeared, opened the car door and sank wearily into the seats, her heart and emotions stretched by experiences of the past hour. She started the car then drove around the corner before breaking down. Her tears fell unhindered onto the steering wheel, tears for the little girl, tears for herself, for those friends who had not made it. She allowed herself that time, knowing that it was important and necessary, then dried her tears. Reaching for her iPod, she searched for the song that she wished to hear. Cranking up the volume, she opened the windows to let the fresh spring air into the car.
I’m a survivor
I’m goin’na make it
I will survive
Keep on survivin’
This post was written to raise awareness of the CLIC Sargent YummyMummy Week, in response to a call from Nickie of Typecast Blog. The YummyMummy week is being held from the 10th to 18th March and aims to raise lots of cash for the CLIC Sargent charity.
CLIC Sargent supports children who have cancer, and their families. This support can be of financial nature, emotional support, in form of a family holiday, or even the funding of specialist paediatric oncology nurses.
You can join in by hosting an event, be it an afternoon tea, a teddy bears picnic, a nearly new sale – the choice is yours. Simply sign up here, invite some friends to join you and have fun while raising cash for a great charity.
Readers of my blog know that I have been urging people to sign up to the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Register, to help children and adults, who like Aillidh are in need of a bone marrow transplant. Please read my blog on the #makemebetter campaign.