Friday, June 22, 2012

Guest post: Guardian Angel by Emma Tobin

This is a piece of writing from Emma Tobin aged 15 from Newbridge in Co Kildare. Emma is a member of the WriTeen Scene, a young adult writing group based in Co Kildare. This is an extraordinary piece of writing that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I am a little prejudiced as Emma is my daughter but this is extraordinary:

Guardian Angel

If you’ve ever felt truly invincible, you know how I felt in that moment. If not, then you can’t imagine how I felt as I flew beneath the storm –laden clouds that shrouded my city in a gloomy half-light.

It was like I had to be gentle with the world, like if I squeezed too hard it would crumble in my fingers. In that moment I held the world together and though it was terrifying it was also… exhilarating. I will never forget it – that long, perfect moment in which the world rested on my shoulders and I bore the weight. I will always remember, regardless of how much I want to forget.

It was the most painful moment of my life. My mind encompassed the world and everything in it. The revolving planet, the gravity holding humanity down, the lakes and rivers and seas, the molten core of the earth – all of it under my control.

Then it was gone and I was falling. Frozen, gaping, realising how small my mind was. It’s the kind of thing that takes your breath away. The air whipped past me, the metres between me and the pavement melted away as I wrestled for control.

I grasped my mind and forced my body to stop. I halted in mid-air and hung helpless, holding on by a thread. Then, slowly, I began to ascend.

That was when I noticed the oddly shaped form floating above me, waiting for me, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to face it. I wanted to run away and hide from the pain reverberating like the tolling of a giant bell through my skull. I wanted to hide from the fact that I’d have to spend my life living and reliving that moment. The moment I’ll never forget.

I didn’t run, partly because I was curious and partly because I knew that running wouldn’t help.
As I drew level with it, I saw the runes etched into its metal surface. It shimmered and floated, its undulating body caressing my battered frame, bathing me in soft yellow light.

I could feel the energy draining from my limbs and I realised that it was sucking the life out of me. It was tempting to embrace the light, because it promised warmth and safety and an escape from the terrible sense of responsibility that comes with holding the world together in a shaking grip. It was killing me, and I wanted to let it.

I knew that if I died, the world would too. Without someone to hold the world together it would fall apart. I knew that this was more than just what I wanted; this was the fate of the world.

So, with all the strength left in my limbs, I pushed it away and watched as it spun through the night, veering towards an apartment building. Then it stopped dead in mid-air.

Before I could draw in a ragged breath it slammed into me and I was the one spinning, still defying gravity but only just. I absorbed the kinetic energy from my own momentum and felt the energy buzz like a thousand wasps in my veins.

In one fluid movement I drew my curved hand and a half sword and smashed it into the hardened metal surface of the machine that was now trying to kill me in a more conventional manner – by breaking every bone in my body.

With a defending pop, the sword gouged a jagged hole and I, thrown back by the strength of my strike, watched as the machine exploded into a million shimmering shards of metal.

It rained down onto the city like confetti and I revelled in my own strength. It was then that I remembered why I held the world together.

If I didn’t, who else would?

Copyright: Emma Tobin 2012 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In the shadow of cancer

In the past two weeks I have learned about the deaths of two people I knew from Myeloma. These deaths hit me very hard because I too have Myeloma. Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells of the bone marrow for which there is currently no cure.

I was diagnosed in January 2007. I was 38 at the time. The majority of people who get myeloma are over the age of 65. I was one of a rare breed of people who get myeloma whilst under the age of 40 – only 2% of those who get myeloma are under 40.

At the time of my diagnosis they did not really talk to me about a definitive prognosis. With myeloma there are no guarantees. A lot depends on how I respond to treatment. There might be remission. The remission might be a few months or a few years. There will definitely be a relapse, maybe even a few relapses.

Myeloma is not curable but it is treatable. But people still die from it or from complications associated with it and I am sure that I will die from it too – one day.

The news of these recent deaths have me using my calculator, working out how many years these men lived for after their myeloma diagnosis and trying to work out how many more years I might have. I know one man who has had myeloma for 21 years and is doing fine ( well as fine as you can with something like myeloma). I know a woman in America who has been living with myeloma for more than 14 years. I know another man here in Ireland who has been living with it for 15 years. I used to be able to quote the myeloma years of these two men who have recently died, but sadly I can’t anymore.

So my calculator has been out because I am not very good at Maths, not this type of maths anyway.
My children were aged 2 and 9 when I was diagnosed. Now, five years after my diagnosis, they are now aged 7 and 15. I don’t ever want to leave them. I don’t ever want to be faced with the fact that I will no longer be around to be their mother.

So today I have been scribbling sums, based on some of the myeloma years and numbers I know: 
  • Another 5 years will mean my children would be 12 and 20 which would be wonderful
  • Another 10 years will mean that my children would be aged 17 and 25 and that would be just indescribable.
  • Another 15 years will mean that my children would be 22 and 30.

I daren’t dream after that.

All I want is to be around to see them growing up into the wonderful young adults I know they will be.
I want to be around to help my daughter choose her dress for her debs, to help her with college choices and to nurture her wonderful writing talent.

My son is so little, he has so much more growing up to do and I really want to be around for all the milestones that he will go through over the next few years: First Communion, Confirmation, Secondary School, his first love.

So I am doing the numbers and they are not very easy numbers to do.

I have had a successful transplant and I am well. I am off all treatment. I am checked every 8 weeks and so far so good – the myeloma is at bay.  I am hopeful that someday there will be a cure. I really hope we get a cure so families can be spared the trauma of living with myeloma.

It’s very hard to live in the shadow of myeloma. It’s very hard to live under the shadow of any cancer. It’s very hard to hold onto dreams. But, where there is life, there is hope. I have hope. Sometimes it is hard to hold onto hope. Sometimes it is just very hard ……..

This week is Myeloma Awareness Week in Ireland. Please spread the word about Myeloma and if you can help in any way with our work and with raising money for research then please email

Brenda Drumm
June 21, 2012