Auckland writer Jane Bissell was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 and she wrote a book about her first year - her diagnosis, surgery and chemotherapy and recovery. This book is called Welcome to the Amazon Club (please visit www.janebissell.co.nz) and here is an excerpt from the book.
"While I was having chemotherapy, I was staying with my Mom and Dad. My cat, Betsy, was with me and she was a constant companion. When I was nearing the end of the chemo and very tired most of the time, Betsy started behaving strangely ..."
Betsy is a funny little tabby cat. Very busy. Brown with black stripes, white feet and a white splash across her chest. She's started doing something unusual since I've been so sick.
I'm staying in the back bedroom at Mom and Dad's. There's a sliding door opening onto a patio and I leave it open, day and night, just wide enough for Betsy to get in and out. Every morning for the last week I've been getting up to find another large dead puka leaf outside my door. The pile grows steadily. I know Betsy is bringing them down because I can see her teeth marks. I hear her too.
It's a nocturnal operation. In the dark stillness of night I hear her trying to bring a leaf through the small gap in the door. Now and then she's successful and I find one lying on the floor beside the bed. Usually the leaves are far too big so she deposits them in the pile outside the door.
This morning I counted ten out there, some as big as she is. They're from the puka tree at the top of the stairs, way up the back, so she has to carry them some distance. They're making quite a clutter but I haven't the heart to throw them away. She's worked so hard to bring them to me.
I discussed this behaviour with Louise. She has several cats and reckons it's Betsy's way of looking after me. Perhaps my wee cat thinks the leaves will sustain me while I'm unable to be up and about, foraging for myself.
© Jane Bissell
(Posted October 2009)