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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?

EJB x

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Retail Therapy

Cancer does not make you wise. That’s a secret we don’t like to admit to, but it’s true. Cancer does not mean that you stop making mistakes or the occasional error in judgement. I am fortunate, that I am practically perfect in everyday, but that does still leave some room for, you know, the occasional lapse in judgement.

It would be fair to say that I had a lapse in judgement last week. I knew it was coming. I had shaved off my hair and I was feeling weak. All so very weak. I needed a pick me up. I could feel it clawing away at my psyche, telling me that I needed to look better, but more crucially, that I could easily look better if only I invested a bit of time and money. The problem here however, is that I have no money. I do however have a credit card and my, do I know how it use it. It is also apparent that I have absolutely no self control. The excellent part about whatever came over me last Saturday afternoon, is that I did it all from the comfort of Mamma Jones’ sofa. No walking around shops for me. I can’t do that anyway. I have myeloma.

To be clear, ‘all’ means quite a lot of purchases with fake money. It is people like me who make this economy work. Cancer patients. Well, maybe not, I think there is a hole in my logic. We buy on credit and then have no hope of ever paying it back. In your face Barclays. In your face. Hello new stuff.

This week, there has been a steady flow of parcels coming to my front door. It has been lovely. Fake money and immense guilt aside, I have received, two pairs of shoes, two dresses, two skirts, a top, four pairs of earrings, two necklaces and a wig. There may well be the odd thing that is still outstanding, but only time will tell. Or Royal Mail.

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Just look how pretty it all is.

I know it is wrong, but I feel so much better. I know that all this stuff will vastly improve my quality of life. It makes me hotter than I was before, and I know that I have the ability to be hot, even with my current, generous display of scalp. This new stuff, is going to make you tell me that you are in love with me, because you are. I can sense it.

In short, the retail therapy worked. It worked in Pretty Woman didn’t it? She may have been a prostitute, but I have myeloma. I deserved it more than she did, but I only had a credit card to hand. The spree made me stronger. I have new stuff. And as my six year old niece told me today, I am so ‘fash-ON’. She is wise, all so very wise. Probably wiser than me, but I can be forgiven. I have cancer don’t you know.

And that is my cancer card played for the week. Or maybe month, if something else does not come along to upset me.

EJB x

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