Every morning since my surgery except the first when a very young sweet nurse, a baby really, gave me a bed bath I have washed myself in front of this bathroom mirror. The first time was a bit of a shock, a single breast, mastectomy scar and skin lesions, nothing new there, but then there are the angry red blotches from the heart monitor stickers, that I am so desperately allergic to. The swollen abdomen, a wad of dressing covering the wound where they cut a window in my heart. A tube sticking out attached to a Perspex box, draining a thick raspberry coloured liquid, a cannula protrudes from my neck, which terrifies me. Lower down in my right side is another drain attached to a bag filling with a corn oil like fluid. 7 litres approximately drained so far between my right lung and the lining of my heart.

There isn’t much space to wash around, it’s a hideous sight, a sight only a mother with tears in her eyes could look at and love. My left arm is a watercolour wash of all my favourite blue/green hues from repeated stabbing for blood and lines. I am gentle and considerate as I wash around all the paraphernalia, and my cloth turns orange from the iodine disinfectant. As the days go by there is more to wash as one by one the drains, dressings and stickers are removed. I catch my eye and hold my gaze, my heart is both bursting and breaking with love and pride for the reflection in the mirror. I finally feel kindly and protective and not repulsed by this body, it holds this big warm, loving, generous heart and this crazy, romantic old soul that finally gets to soar because cancer has stripped me bare.

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