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  • Debbie Murphy

Cancer Mind Games

My recent bout of illness somehow stood me still again. The time spent in bed recovering gave way to time thinking about where I’d been on this cancer journey. Moreover it led me to thoughts of where I’m going now. Having run my own business for so long I am familiar with spending time alone with my thoughts, however they were most often concerning work and how to fit it all in. Now, I have time on my hands which would have been used to plan and put in practice new ideas and designs before my illness. Post cancer those plans seem somehow ridiculous and the ideas are not forthcoming. I just can’t seem to figure out why. Is this a feeling of hopelessness, a fear of planning too far ahead in case I can’t complete what I’ve started or is it more to do with the business I was in,  fashion. I’m looking at the industry with almost disdain, is this business really worthy of so much effort I mean,  isn’t it all just superficial? What lies beneath the fabrics, latest trends, in colours and must have shapes this season. I’d often made comments about the industry I was in and was quite disparaging about the language used. All the ‘rocking this look’ and ‘working that trend’, the whole ‘like my page’, ‘follow me’ almost beggar friend mentality that comes with modern day fashionistas. It didn’t stop me being part of it though and unfortunately my principals didn’t win through – I was as guilty as the next for clocking my followers, likes and comments. Now I really don’t care.  Like me or don’t, ‘heart’ my designs or not, it doesn’t matter unless you mean it. Over time while running my business I have entered into many collaborations and put together business plans, worked on projects and taken part in numerous events. Some of these were ongoing when I became unwell and as a result they stopped abruptly. I didn’t hesitate when closing my business, the calls were made and within a day my online presence and trading ceased, just like that. It became irrelevant. Now, faced with picking up the pieces – for which I have no excuse not to – I can’t. Having been on the outside looking in I have a much clearer picture and I don’t see my place in it. I’d be a hypocrite to criticise those still within that circle as I walked the same walk and talked the same talk but I’m almost cringing as I look back. You might as well say ‘It’s all about Me’ because the fight for online superiority and sales is more like a popularity contest. Conversely I feel that this time really is all about me and finding out what route to take next but this time I won’t be pleading with my followers and ‘friends’ to come with me. Is that the voice of experience or is it the experience of cancer that is speaking to me. Stripped of my fashionista image, lying in a hospital bed attached to numerous machines I thought little about the cancer inside me. Now, seven months on with recovery going well I think about it more. Let’s face it, I’d been carrying that tumor around with me a fair few years according to medical science. Me and my cancer had done a few Clothes Shows’s, arranged a fair few fashion events and strutted about town in our glad rags for a while. Perhaps that’s it, I can’t separate the cancer from the business, I have to allocate blame. I was told to give it a name when it was discovered but I couldn’t and now it’s become all the things I worked for that were never to be. I wonder is this common for other cancer survivors? Is the fashion industry really so disdainful or is my reaction a natural response to the shock of having cancer. Had I worked in any other sector would I have the same disrespect for my previous career? All I do know is that the scars are taking longer to heal than I expected and they run a lot deeper than I knew.

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