Bruises bloom purple
as we celebrate
the first daffodil
in its brave defiance
of freak hailstorms.
I peel snowdrop plasters
from my hands.
My veins are tiny
but they’re tough,
pumped full of spring.
I burrow my way
towards the light.
The anaesthetist asks
about Disney World.
The magic of making
plans again. How it will be
to introduce my little boy
to Mickey Mouse,
to a summer free of surgery,
free of pain, free of fear.

Happy New Year

Last October I decided to try running for the first time. My friend Jenny recommended the couch to 5K app so I downloaded it on my phone. My second mastectomy plus reconstruction back in March had knocked me sideways but now I was ready to start feeling a bit more like myself again. I decided to take photos on my run and then write a verse of a poem as soon as I got in from running. I used the canva app to put the verse and the photo together to share on Instagram. I’d never put poetry on Instagram before but it seemed like a great way to reach out to people. Also I figured if I made a public commitment, I’d be less likely to give up!

In December I reached 5K. I also had an MRI scan on my spine as I’ve been getting a lot of pain in my back and neck. On January 2nd I got my results saying I was all clear. The pain is not cancer coming back, it’s just side effects from Tamoxifen. Best New Year’s present ever! I still feel a lot of fear, anxiety, confusion, and loss of self confidence as a result of breast cancer. But I also have so much hope and appreciation for the future I am so lucky to have.

Today I started the 10K app. When I was sick I received a great many messages of love and support from people I knew as well as strangers. They were an invaluable source of support. A friend I hadn’t seen in many years who’d had cancer himself wrote saying ‘it’s very tough but I promise you life will be sweeter afterwards because of it.’ It stuck in my mind which is why I’ve been using the #lifewillbesweeterafterthis. Here’s the poem from Week 1 of my running. If you like it, please follow me on Instagram – aoifemannix.  And a very happy New Year and all the best for 2018!

Week One

The eye of you with the pine
shaking hands with the beech.
Golden morning, a blue sharp
as your letters painting new October.
Running the line of the field,
each footstep bringing me back to health.

Clouds accuse me of city crackling.
The radio out of tune. The caw caw
of crows calling on the telephone,
a hawk humming for the line man.
The sky pinned to a tree, a map
of how little I know these woods.

The wind racing in the trees,
yellow rags tossed into tractor tracks.
The low howling of an autumn morning.
What divides the hedgerow from the road,
what unites the surprise of the bridge home.