Oncology nurse, Lindsay Norris writes about how her own experience of having cancer made her realise she hadn’t fully understood as a healthcare worker what her patients were going through during treatment, despite thinking she had.
“Even though healthcare workers don’t really know what it’s like to be you (well, us) it’s ok. Nobody does. I just hope that I was still able to give you a little guidance and strength to help you get through your cancer treatment. Even if I didn’t get it.”
She sort of knew it was coming, but still, the day it was confirmed it was a shock. The kind man who told her had been a colleague and friend from the very early days when they had all started pre-med together.
“I’ll miss the millennium party,” Nora said. That was her immediate reaction to being told she had six months to live. Nothing about leaving the husband she had loved for years or about not seeing her children grow up and marry, or not knowing her grandchildren.
‘I had a biopsy and when the results came back the doctor said, very matter-of-factly, “Elysha, we found a tumour of white cells and something called Hodgkin’s lymphoma.” I didn’t know what Hodgkin’s was. I didn’t really hear the word tumour, to be honest. I heard “white cells”, and white cells means inflammation. I still didn’t freak out. Then Mum started to cry. She said, “It’s cancer.”’
Maria Woulfe: “When my breast consultant entered the little room, my diagnosis was etched all over her face. I cried and bawled and asked the most ridiculous of questions. I do remember, however, being told that we wouldn’t be able to have any more children and was absolutely gutted. I came home that day into the conservatory of my mother’s house where she had been minding my five-month-old son. My mother and father just broke down before me.” (Examiner) >>>
General consensus about the text:
There were mixed emotions about the text, although the plot of the story was a tad cliché, it
still fulfilled the role of a good read. As the cliché acted as a contrast to communist soviet
Everyone agreed that there was some pity felt for the main character.
The character’s personalities were all enjoyable, and it was interesting to watch them grow
First Topic: The main character
The main character in this extract was an important, wealthy and powerful Russian man.
Diagnosed with a cancer.
Although he is a powerful man, this scares him, becomes more superstitious.
Tries to use his wealth and power to get better healthcare and fails.
The hospital makes him feel mortal
Although he doesn’t have the nicest personality, we all empathised with this character.
Second topic: How the text is a contrast to communism in Russia
The whole text really acts as a contrast to communism in Russia.
The main character may have worked hard to get where he is today, so maybe should be
able to use his wealth for an advantage.
Russian expressions in this text emphasise this.
Third Topic: Doctors coming across as powerful
Although there aren’t many moments in this text that involve doctors, it is interesting to see
how they are portrayed when they are involved.
The main character goes into a lot of detail when describing the doctor in his opening scene.
We agreed that this was to emphasise the power and effect the doctor had on him and also
how it affected him.
Emma Hannigan (author of Talk to the Headscarf about her battle with cancer): “So I knew it was the way I could make myself safe, and that’s why I did it with ease of mind. I know Angelina Jolie has written that she felt empowered by what she did, and that’s how I felt.” (Examiner) >