Joely and I first met, interestingly enough, when our stories followed one another in the 3 hundred and 65 project which benefited a children’s cancer charity. It was no surprise to me then when she submitted a story to Metastasis. Let’s here what she has to say about it:
Who or what was the inspiration for your story in Metastasis?
When I was nine, my uncle died of a brain tumour. He was 37. We used to go and see him at the hospice in London. I became very curious about how a brain tumour changes the very nature of who we are, after watching how the tumour changed him. We get our very selves, all our creativity and thought, from the brain, and cancer changes that radically. I wanted to explore how that might change a person, but not in a uniformly bleak way.
How has cancer touched your life?
I’ve never had cancer myself, but I’ve lost three close relatives to it. My uncle’s death stayed with me a long time, as he died very young and made me conscious of how early cancer can claim a person. My grandfather died of prostate cancer when I was a teenager, which felt like a battle of the wills between him and the disease. I understand he never properly sought treatment for it, which is why he died so quickly. And of course, my other uncle died last year. That was a hard one; the cancer was concealed by his Alzheimer’s, and it’s awful to think that many of his unusual behaviours were caused by a tumour rather than the degenerative dementia.
When it comes to cancer, what gives you hope?
Many of my friends are scientists, constantly working on tiny pieces that fit together to produce cures. The speed with which we’re learning about new treatments, new techniques and new medicines is astounding. I think we’re making progress, especially when it’s caught early.
Joely Black is a writer and author living in Manchester, England. She has published a fantasy trilogy and is currently writing a new fantasy serial called Five Empires. She has also written for the Manchester Literature Festival and appeared in One in Four magazine. You can find more info at joelyblack.com.
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