At approximately 17:40hrs on Saturday 19 October, I completed the challenges of challenges. I claimed my Everest. I proved myself wrong. In 11 days, I watched 16 feature films and 22 shorts over 19 screenings and I did it all by myself and all without falling asleep in the cinema. To say that I am proud of my achievement an understatement.
I am very proud of myself.
It was not a walk in the cinema, let me assure you. I had had to rely on something known as a taxi more than I would have liked, I fell asleep on the bus in the middle of the day, I became the fidgeter of all fidgeters, suffered severe back pain and there were even a few times when part of me would have preferred to stay on my bed watching films made before 2011, but I carried on. I got my bum to central and East London’s finest cinemas on time, and I relished every moment of it.
At the start of my quest, it was about me defeating my fatigue and thus My Myeloma by doing something I wanted to do, with the cancer tagging along for the ride because these days, I have to accept it’s presence. Just before the halfway mark, and this is the reason I stopped blogging about my daily screening, I found something that was so much better than what I was trying to prove to myself by sitting in the dark. I found pockets of time where I did not have to rely on other people to make me feel good or valued, something I think I lost sight of in recent months. It was all on me. Sure some people had to make the films I was watching (I am not on that many drugs), but I did not need them to hold my hand throughout the screening. I did not need them to carry my bags. I did not need them to support me. I did it all by myself. I stood on my own two feet for 11 whole days.
For those 11 days, with each screening, my brain was able to think about something more than myeloma, in fact, with the exception of the fidget and the need for morphine, LFF offered me at least 40 hours that were completely myeloma free. 40 hours! That’s 40 quality hours of concentration and thought. I did not think about my paraprotein level, I was following somebody else’s story and when I was not doing that I was reaching into my mental library, searching for influences, taking notes, analysing the themes and pondering the thought process behind an aspect ratio. It was bliss, even with the depressing ones.
It is said that cinema is a powerful medium. More things are said about cinema to be sure, but I thought I would point out the obvious. Film is much more than that to me, and when I attach so much meaning to everything now, my experience at LFF is so much more than that. My very expensive annual challenge reawakened something that I thought was dead. It’s indescribable, despite my poor attempt at doing so. Imagine a montage, with several images of me looking brain dead and confused leading towards images of me alone in the dark, wearing various wigs, looking engaged, thoughtful and happy and with each shot my eyes brighten to the point of sparkle. It would need a good actress to pull it off, but I think I am game. The accompanying score would be saccharine such is the power and subtlety of the movement.
Of course things have been adapted for My Myeloma, the taxis and lack of socialising outside of LFF proves that, but at the same time, I probably learnt something that you all knew already and that was not everything has to make a concession to myeloma. Not everything about me has to make a concession to My Myeloma. I do not know why I did not know this.
One week later and I still suffer from fatigue, but I feel stronger than I have for a long time, even with a cold. Crucially, I have stopped crying everyday.
The power of cinema…
In case anybody is interested, I saw the following: Captain Phillips, The Spectacular Now, Vic + Flo Saw a Bear, Computer Chess, Nebraska, The Double, Ida, 11.6, Like Father Like Son, Me Myself and Mum, Sarah Prefers to Run, May in Summer, Heli, Don Jon, The Grandmaster, Drinking Buddies and three sets of shorts.
The day after it was all over, I took myself to the cinema. FYI.