More than a broken camera

My little blue, point and shoot camera has given up the ghost and stopped working.  Recently it sometimes refused to start up, but with a sneaky battery boost it would forget its obstinacy and wake up. But now it has completely frozen, lens protruding and a malfunction message.  No pulse, no heartbeat. No response to resuscitation attempts.

And my mind is similarly paralysed, paranoia lodged firmly in my brain.  I am quietly freaking out.

I have just returned from a field visit to our project sites in a township in a remoter part of the country, and as always took far too many photographs.  Each time I switched on the camera, to capture a passing image or moment I nervously awaited the digital start up beep to tell me the camera was functioning.  Then on our flight back this morning, as I switched it on to snap a sight which caught my eye, I was disappointed that it gave a little warning “ting”.  A message told me there was a lens malfunction and to restart the camera.  Which I did.  Only to receive a repeat message. Again and again I tried.Nothing.  The lens is still stuck.  The camera appears to be dead.

I have visited this same township before. And bizarrely, the camera I had then started to malfunction while in that very same township. That was my old, faithful first digital camera, which had taken thousands of photographs in Nepal, Thailand, China, Mongolia, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the UK and of course the early months in Myanmar. I had bought it nearly four years previously and had dragged it everywhere with me, loving the novelty of digital images. I especially enjoyed the fact that I could never run out of film.  But the screen stopped functioning during that visit, and all images were plain white. My camera had come to the end of its short but intense life, and has lain at rest in a drawer ever since.

My very first digital camera

My very first digital camera

The visit to that township was in September 2009.  Eleven short days after my return to Yangon from that field visit, with my defunct camera, I discovered a lump in my breast.  A few days after that I was sitting in consulting room No 59 in Bangkok’s Samitivej Hospital, the words “highly suspicious……… cancer….. highly suspicious…….. cancer………. cancer……… cancer” ringing all around me. The rest is history, as in the history of the feisty blue gecko entering new and unwanted territory. Within twenty days from my return to Yangon with my broken camera in September 2009, I had had major surgery and the confirmation that I had two tumours and cancer in six lymph nodes.

The neat little camera which has finally broken today, was a replacement for the camera which did not last after that earlier field visit.  And just to add the icing to the bitter tasting cake?  My cute, lucky blue, newly broken camera was my very first chemo treat.

My cute little blue camera - chemo treat No 1

My cute little blue camera – chemo treat No 1

My next round of checks is in directly front of me, and the associations between the first field visit, the broken camera and the word cancer echoing around the room, are too obvious for my fragile mind not to draw immediate parallels.

Add that to the recent raised markers and increased medical surveillance. Is it surprising that my mind has rushed into a dark space?  Is it any wonder that I am quietly freaking out?

Reason tells me that the broken cameras and that particular town are nothing more than a quirky coincidence.  But a sensitive mind darts into irrational places.  Particularly a mind which has already been pushed into dark corners it never dreamed existed.


15 thoughts on “More than a broken camera

  1. I was thinking, “Hurray, another link to chemo is broken!” I’m going with that one… But I get it, really I do. Big hugs, positive thoughts, white light and energy my friend.

  2. Oh my gosh. I’m sorry you have a gauntlet of tests ahead of you; they are always so nerve-wracking. I can see why you see the camera image as symbolic, but as you say, “But a sensitive mind darts into irrational places.” I agree with Sarajane about doing your best to push Captain Paranoia back. Easier said than done. I struggle with all this myself.

    • Thanks for your support and understanding, B – the tests are so nerve wracking, but essential to get to the other side and have clarity or reassurance, or even better – both. I find that the challenge is in rationalising emotions. They resist and repel all attempts to see this through the lens of reason. No reason not to try though!

  3. I totally get how you might draw a connection between these events, but you put it best: “A sensitive mind darts into irrational places.” This is so true! Realize it is simply a small case of irrational thinking that has beset you.

    Personally, I think it’s time to go camera shopping and revel in that! I will add that my first digital camera looked just like your first one. I, too, wore the hell out of it. I bought a new little Canon (similar to your blue number 2). And on my first outing, I promptly dropped it — and the lens would not retract. I feared I had broken it. Here’s what I did: I put it aside for a few days and did not touch it. Lo and behold, the lens retracted on its own! But when I looked through the viewfinder, all I saw was black — even though the lens was now working again. I was ready to toss my camera number 2 out when my normally non-handy husband took hold of it and rapped it a few times, jarring something back into place. The camera works great now! However, that did NOT stop me from splurging on the camera I REALLY wanted all along )but settled on camera #2). Now I own a Canon T4i with an 18-135mm lens. I love it. LOVE IT! The clarity is so far superior to my little digital cameras. You have to upgrade. You HAVE to. You won’t believe the difference it makes.

    This long missive is merely my way of telling you that these “coincidences” you speak of are just pushing you to purchase a “proper” camera that belies your wonderful photographic talent!

    Now don’t you feel better already? 😉

    • Thank you SO much, R – I just love your take on the “message of the broken camera”, thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. 🙂 I have to be brave and step over into the realm of sophisticated kit! I do love the convenience of the point and shoot though, and the fact that it is unobtrusive. But yes, the clarity and consistency. I would love that……. Deep breath!! And yes, I DO feel so much better already!

      PS – I am sorry that connectivity has been really patchy and it has been taking time to open my own page and reply!

  4. You gotta take that fear and throw it away. Throw away the camera if you need to – like, toss it far into off a cliff-side or something (and then go pick up the smashed pieces cause littering isn’t so fun). I can totally get that worriesome association. I was diagnosed right after my first wedding anniversary – so basically, that made me think anniversary = cancer.

    But we’ve got to toss that garbage away. You little blue camera is adorable, for sure, but maybe it’s time to choose something even better. Upgrade without any association of cancer or chemo. Reward yourself because you are here, and you are a natural photographer. Get a brilliant digital SLR see what beauty you can capture next.

    • You are right, it has to be packaged up and tossed to the side, the old camera and the fear. I have a friend who was diagnosed right after a head cold, and she finds it hard to shake off that association. So far, between us we have anniversaries, head colds and orchids as well as broken cameras to banish as heralds of cancer! It helps so much knowing you are not alone.

      And I had best head off and do as you suggest, and get myself a digital SLR…….

  5. Pingback: Weekly Round-Up | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  6. I know what you mean about your mind going to those dark places, Philippa. It’s natural. I have associated dead orchids with my cancer returning. I like the recommendations of the commenters here. I threw my orchids away and a friend gave me a new flowering one without even knowing the story of my dead ones. It is still thriving, and so are you. xox Jan

    • It is so good to see you here, J and your support and wise words are warming to the core. I am thinking of you often and sending virtual flowering orchids. If I get a new SLR I will send you a pic of flowering orchids from our garden 🙂 Thank you so much xox

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