So I appear to be living with cancer in a kind of equity. My doctors, one of whom is an old friend and I am convinced that she likes me, looks at me with a mixture of exasperation & sadness. ‘Are you sure you don’t want treatment, even just to be on the safe side?’ I explain once more that treatment does not seem safe to me & that my tumour has not grown perceptibly. I also tell her that I feel incredibly well and that my new herb, green tea, bi -carb and stir fry diet appears to work well and I am loving my wok. I still have a hideously sweet tooth and I succumb to the odd lemon yum yum but have cut out the bon bons and haven’t bought biscuits for years. I have lost a half stone of what the adverts insist on calling ‘belly fat’ and can wear a jacket with ease that has always been beyond me – or my girth.
I seem to be making light of my cancer according to people I discuss it with. I don’t think I am, I was appalled when I was first diagnosed – my primary reaction was to flog everything I have and go on holiday – in fact I had a few days booked before I was diagnosed. Also, having been given seven months to live by one doctor I felt relief that I would not have to decide if I painted my front door – which has begun an automatic peel. Also I only taxed the car for six months though I decided to splurge on a service because I have a friend who badly needs a car. So I began to arrange my life around this depressing outlook.
Then I thought: ‘I’m not having this!’ (I use a lot of exclamation marks in my thought processes) I have too much to do, books and plays to write and entire works that I have written and left to fester on my computer. There is so much reading I still have to do, films to see, music to discover new people to meet. Friends and family to enjoy being with and my lover to love of course.
So NO I don’t have time to be ill.
I don’t diminish the fact of cancer’s horrors and heard on radio 4 yesterday a harrowing conversation between a mother and daughter that would break your heart. But my cancer, which is part of me, has not yet had that effect on me. I talk to it a lot I tell it to behave and have pointed out that if I die so does the cancer so if we can live in an amicable state of co-existence we can very possibly get a few more years out of our life. I am 76 so feel that I have had a fair innings. I also know that many of my friends have died of cancer in their youth, even more in middle age have recovered .I don’t see cancer as the defining factor in my life though its advent has given me pause and spurred me into getting my second novel ‘out there’ to fare as it will. It has given me a new appreciation of life and my recent trip to the Riviera was one of the most intensely enjoyable times of my life.
What do I feel about cancer? It is a nasty malfunction of the body therefore it is a dis – ease. I don’t see it as my enemy after all it is part of me. I don’t feel particularly picked upon though I do feel fortunate that at the moment I have no pain (except arthritis that has been with me for years. I also fall over rather a lot which is irritating because when I drank regularly I never fell over at all.(Retrograde punishment?) I am off to physiotherapy to deal with this.
I do have tiny problems with people I have known for years however, some people appear to be annoyed that I feel so well and have given me a wide berth though I am sure that if I consented to be ‘ill’ they would not find me so irritating and very possibly cosset me, not a role I relish. Other lovely people I know tend to have a soft glove approach to me and I forgive them,there is a Iot of brainwashing out there, almost a How To tract on relationships with the terminally ill. I have always been bloody minded and see no reason to change now. I feel that I don’t want or need to succumb to the general ‘death sentence’ view of cancer – life itself is terminal, a death sentence. Recently a friend described me as: ‘running around laughing my head off in the middle of the night looking for adventures.’ Which is no way for anybody of my age to act but I intend to carry on carrying on for as long as I have breath…
One of the things that cancer has brought me is a keen sense of the joy of life. I am not particularly brave & I indulge in man -flu with my brothers but knowing you might not have long to live is a wonderful spur for self indulgence and appreciation of LIFE.