Material Girl

Money, my friends, makes the world go round. The world go round.

The world go round. You can make your clothes out of old curtains, grow your vegetables in the back garden and ignore social practice, but money will still make your world go round regardless of whether you want it to or not. What I mean is, people need money to exist. People who live in London, definitely need money to exist. I need money to exist.

Since I was a wee girl of 11, strutting the tiles of Langtoft Village Shop, I have been fairly pragmatic when it comes to money. To get money, you work. Once you have the money you have earned, you spend it. If you are lucky, you may find a job that you enjoy. For those lucky few, and everybody else for whom that 9-5 is a means to an end, the simple fact of life is to enjoy said life, you have to have money. Not bags and bags of the stuff, but enough money to feel comfortable, pay your way.

I have worked hard to create my own personal level of comfortable. It’s average looking, but it is mind. I did not pick a profession that will ever pay me bucket loads of money, instead I chose one that comes with a steady income, benefits and crucially, one that I enjoy. That job pays for me to live a life that I have become accustomed to. A life, that of late has been put on hold by My Myeloma and the treatment for it, but within that, I have occasionally been able to experience glimpses of the old me, when my health allows. These glimpses, cost money. Holding on to the things I enjoy, cost money. My life costs money. Even sitting in my flat, not going out, not seeing people costs money, let alone my hobbies of Russell & Bromley and the British Film Institute. The things that were treats before myeloma have became medicinal with it. Even medicines cost money my friends.

Money, money, money.

I do not feel like I have lived a particularly hedonistic lifestyle. Others of course may disagree. Each to their own. I know I have not been overly sensible with mymoney. I have spent it. I spent it all, for I always thought there was time to start saving. Unfortunately, I discovered yesterday, that the likelihood of me being able to do that now is slim. For I have gone onto half pay. My stocks are down. I have plummeted. Fortunately for nosey parkers, I do not come from the school of thought that talking about money is ill mannered, so in actual terms, I have experienced a reduction of £15k (figure has been rounded up for presentational purposes). In addition to a pay cut I had to take when I was first diagnosed, since August of last year, I have experienced a total reduction in earnings of £20k per year. Still, it could be worse, no pay comes with another four months of absence.

This is nobody’s fault.

I did not smack somebody in the mouth. I have not spent the last year secretly running marathons when I have said I have been sleeping. I have not even been fired. No errors were made. It is not retribution. It really is nobody’s fault. I hate that nobody is to blame for this. It makes me cry.

I always knew, in the back of my mind that this was possible, I told you so in December, but I blocked it out. I could not handle thinking about it for the same reason why I am finding it difficult to accept. Also, and this really is the shitter, I unfortunately misunderstood The Rules and I thought that I had considerably more time and was planning for that scenario. Maybe I should have saved more. Maybe, when I was diagnosed, I should have saved more. As well as going to the hospital, accepting my illness and losing my life, I should have started to save. I did not. My employers have been incredibly accommodating and it is not their fault either. Have I emphasised their kindness enough? They have allowed me to do what I can and out of everybody, made me feel normal again. The Medically Trained People are not to blame, they are the ones fixing me.

The sad fact of My Myeloma is that I cannot work right now. In terms of work, in the last twelve months, I have done as much as I could, I worked during two rounds of chemo (the first round was not formal, it would seem), but that is not enough in this world of money.

It is not possible for me to live the life I want to live, even with the limitations of myeloma, on £15k per year. Lord knows what will happen to me when I receive nothing. Shall I tell you why? I have a life in East London, that is anchored in a flat that I have lived in for four years. The flat, costs £625 per month plus bills. In case you started thinking, I would not be able to find an equivalent for less. I cannot even look under my bed. I have a pension, whether in the end, I need that, is questionable, but it is best to keep it going for morale’s sake. I care about the planet, it’s creatures and stuff, but I also like lipstick, brogues and Kronenberg. All these things, every time I whip out my Visa, keeps me ticking along. Think less of me if you wish, but this is my life. Money makes me happy.

My Myeloma has taken that away from me.

Cancer takes away so much. It destroys more than one’s body. Already, I have seen my life change to the extent that what I had before my illness is dead and buried with the words ‘in credit’; this extra something something, has just stripped away more. It has taken my last strand of independence. I know I am fortunate to have gone this far without worry (too much) about it, but now, My Myeloma has removed my main ability to cling to my past and because of that, I am utterly, utterly devastated. My devastation is made worse because I have a cancer that will come back, which means, so too will this problem, and it will get worse, as will the cancer. That my friends, is something to look forward to.

Hell, I really am just a material girl, living in a material world. Correction, was…

I am now a girl exploring the benefit system. Apparently, loads of people get them. Fingers crossed that applies to me too, otherwise, the Bank of M&D will have cough something up. Regularly.

My last lingering thought is simple, if I cannot buy anything now, what am I supposed to use the Internet for?


Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

5 thoughts on “Material Girl

  1. Hey Em 🙂 Long time no see. Hang in there! I just did my tax return and in this last year I earned a whopping GBP 12,047 and have been given a tax rebate of about 800 quid. It’s amazing… last year I was earned a moderate income and got stung with a 2K tax bill and went crying to my parents because I couldn’t afford to pay it. The credit card gobbled it up and I finally finished paying it off in May this year.

    Sometimes, we are actually richer when we are poorer because we learn to manage our money better… 3 years ago I was earning 47K and throwing my VISA at everything in sight and going into the red fearlessly and often. I am poorer now than ever, but I’ve got more money in my bank account than I did three years ago. We live to our means, we learn to be resourceful and being rich isn’t about earning a lot, it’s about spending wisely. And take those benefits… I worked out a few years ago I would have earned more on benefits than I did working a 40 hour week and paying all my taxes. Well sod that, you deserve to take some respite and take some money back for all the work you’ve put in so far. You’ll be back on the up soon enough, but for now make a project out of being resourceful, and let some people look after you. Why don’t you start trying to make some pocket money out of this blog? Bloomin loads of people read it!!

    Lots of love misses, xx

  2. Terri J says:

    Yes this situation makes you feel less independent. I don’t know what kind of job you have but is it possible that you could do some work from home on the computer. My daughters company let her work 20 hrs. a week from home & she collected disability for the other 20 hours. Like Philippa said she ended up making more that way. She did this for about 10 months from the time of diagnoses.

  3. When you are up for it, you might contact the International Myeloma folks and see if they would be interested in a book written by a not-even-30-something with this disease… I am willing to bet they would be. Sadly too many younger people are being diagnosed and would value your insights which are hugely different from someone with ‘a life’ of 40 or 50 years behind them. Perhaps you could interview some of the other Pre-30s who have the same challenges and make it a book that even people without MM will find inspirational or motivating… you are that talented, girlfriend.

  4. Terri J says:

    Emma, I think Sandy’s idea is great. You are a good writer. I know when my daughter was diagnosed at 32(not pre 30’s but close enough) they hooked her up with someone else who had Myeloma but she was 53! It would be great & helpful to hear about other young people dealing with Myeloma. Single(or married) people who are in the prime of their lives & perfectly healthy dealing with Myeloma. The emotional aspects are so different for each person & that is something a medically trained person doesn’t know much about unless they have Myeloma. You have used your blog to get conversations going. Start from there.

  5. Justine says:

    Write the book xx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: