I’m A Grandmother, I Have HIV, And I Can’t Pass It On
I’m A Grandmother, I Have HIV, And I Can’t Pass It On
We Sold Everything We Own To Travel The World With Our Son In A Motorhome
‘From One Crazy Person To Another’: How A Mentally Ill Patient Saved My Life
Six Years Ago A Terrorist Took Aim At My Head, Fired His Gun, And Missed
Holding A Man's Fractured Skull Together Saved His Life And Mine
A 150mile Sahara Desert Race Taught Me Anything Is Possible
The biggest lesson I learnt from flying around the world is that your background only determines your starting point in life, and the finish line is determined by an individual's tenacity. It is for that reason why I want to inspire kids especially those from less privileged backgrounds. It is such an honour to have been able to circumnavigate the globe and be amongst the very elite members of the world's earthrounders.
I look back at those birthday photographs and can make myself believe that I haven't changed at all. But there are scars which go unseen which remind me that I didn't change at 21; it was the entire course of my life which changed.
So many say cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them but cancer was not the making of me; it was the making of a version of me. Who knows who I could have been without that tumour.
So we were pushed in. We came to this long hallway. On the left side, we saw benches. There was a chemical smell that hung in the air, and there were metal trolleys with bars on the top with hangers on it. And on the right side, we saw these heavy metal doors.
Again the soldiers were barking orders at us. I didn't understand. They were speaking German. But Auntie Margo conveyed the order that we have to undress and put our clothes on the trolleys and the blankets, to leave everything there.
Everybody began to undress. The soldiers were standing on the side, and they were joking and smiling, making remarks and faces.
Watching at home, I was disgusted. I thought this was crazy. A whole bunch of assholes were basically making reality TV out of this tragedy, and it was abhorrent. I thought, I need to write something about this. I need to write about the media exploitation of this disaster.
So I did. In my mind it was like a Robin Hood affair - I thought I was doing a good thing, kind of like robbing from the rich and giving to the poor.
But for me, the pun came first: Beaconsfield: A Musical in A-flat Miner. I know what you're thinking: grade-A pun. (My dad loved it, so whatever).
We got home, walked up the stairs, opened the house... and it was absolute chaos.
Someone had broken in. Everything was completely trashed. In retrospect what must have happened was that my then husband had often worked at home, and whoever had been casing the neighbourhood must have left our house aside because he was often there. But that day, of course, he hadn't been there, so we were vulnerable, and we were robbed.
I get up there, and I read the book to two hundred people, and the response is good, but I don't think much of it.
I go home, I go to sleep, and when I wake up the next morning, Go the Fuck to Sleep is ranked 125th on Amazon.
Now, as a literary writer, I didn't even know they made numbers that low. And by the end of the week, the book has shot up to number one.
It took about six months for me to recover. My memory just came back slowly over time. And then I must have been fully healed, because a few months after that, Adam and I broke up again. Only this time I knew it was coming because we'd done it before.
I wanted this fresh start. And I got it. I lost myself completely, and then got myself back, almost as if following a script, replaying my entire history with Adam. Nothing had changed.
But this time, that was comforting. Because if nothing changed, it meant I knew who I was. That I was a real person. And that even without my memory, I was still me.
It's the fastest I've ever rowed in my life. It's so fast that my lungs are beginning to die. And the reason for this incredible burst of speed - some would say legendary burst of speed - is that just behind me, bearing down on me, is an oil tanker.
It's five hundred metres long, and it is bearing down on me with incredible speed, which is why I am rowing faster than anyone has ever rowed in their life. I am desperately trying to get out of the way of that massive oil tanker.
Did I mention, by the way, that I am sitting rowing in a bathtub?
Finding out I had testicular cancer was like being warped to another dimension, looking in on the rest of the world as they live their lives as though they haven't even heard of cancer. I had the most incredible support, all around me, but, that very moment felt extraordinarily lonely. I have always been an avid outdoorsman and when I discovered the Fjällräven Polar, a competition to join an expedition through the Arctic, only days before my surgery, my mission was clear.
The barracuda was right there; lurking. It was enormous, with great black marks like portholes down its side and teeth that made me shiver. It was side on when I first saw it and about 20 metres away but it flipped in less than a second to face-on and came towards me so fast it was like a blur.
It is true that time slows down in a crisis. I remember the terror - and I also remember thinking very clearly 'I want to live.' Until that moment, I hadn't been sure.