Sandra Lovegrove

Posted November 15th, 2008 by Jane

I miss Sandra Lovegrove. Sandra, who I first met in cyber space as jp and then jpoet died of inflammatory breast cancer in 2006.

Sandra was someone with breast cancer who stuck two fingers up, as I do, to the earnest think positive, cancerwasawakupcalland thebestthingwhicheverhappenedtome pink ribbon brigade. Like me, and perhaps even more so than me, she railed against the indignities, the terror, the unfairness of an immediately life threatening diagnosis. I met her for real just once, on a damp afternoon when a mutual friend RA drove us through Epping Forest. We munched on salt beef sandwiches from a wayside cafe and drank on beer in a deserted pub..where Sandra asked for the music to be turned down in every bit as cross a voice as she used to talk about her cancer experience.

I think often the cancerfree and the pink ribbon brigade fail completely to understand the solidarity we of darker disposition enjoy around cancer, and they certainly don’t appreciate the dark moments of humour we spark in each other. That sense of solidarity always uplifts me.

Sandra had no well time after her initial diagnosis. She was ill for most of two years after her primary diagnosis and died with her ‘things to do before I die’ list largely untouched. She was diagnosed after me, did not live to see my own recurrence and never enjoyed the two and a half years of well time I got as remission. She was a bit older than me, but like me, looking forward to a long retirement..cancer destroyed that dream.

Sandra wrote magnificent poetry about cancer. I was privileged to read some of her first drafts: rich metaphorical language with the most powerful of themes. During her lifetime she tried and failed to get it published, and I am thankful to her husband for setting up her website after her death. It amazes me still how few visitors the site has had, and that her poetry never seems to have ‘taken off’ in the world of cancer memoirs. Compare the 1500 hits on her site to the millions who have applauded the last silly lecture of US pancreatic cancer pateint Randy Pausch who has become a cancer folk hero for doing nothing more remarkable than press ups in front of his adoring audeince.

Here is one of Sandra’s poems:


My train of years, moving slowly down its line
Through gentle stations, planning out the time,
Collides against a covert obstacle,
Abruptly overturns and hurls me down,
Howling out my hurts to passers-by
Who come to cut me, cut me from the wreck.
No rescuer could reach where I am thrown:
Disjuncted, injured, down a lonely line.

Sandra Lovegrove

You can find more on her website: Sandra Lovegrove

I miss Sandra’s wit and forthrightness. She was another of those who spoke to my experience of breastcancerworld. I wish I could talk to you now.