I hadn’t realised that the Pre Alps are so impressive. That they tower over vast deep gorges, that they are clothed with olive trees and conifers that cling effortlessly to near vertical terrain. Houses dot the hillsides where no house should be able to cling on. And all the time, on vertiginous hills there would be a solitary cyclist crouched over handlebars powering himself with strong sometimes stringy legs pistoning furiously up or swiftly flying down these vast hills, the one I remember best had long grey hair flying out behind him.  As a non cyclist I can only imagine the muscular energy that this must take – my own muscles twitched painfully in sympathy. The Tour de France has much to answer for.

I had spent some time in Nice many years ago and had never ventured out of the town so absorbed was I with sea, sex and food. Now I am enchanted by the dramatic landscape the beauty of trees and the shadows, the clear air and the sheer wonder of such wildness. I used to be a strictly city slicker and now I am a newborn countryside enthusiast, I am bewitched and it is marvellous.

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Cancer 3

‘And if I don’t have chemo, if I do nothing?’ I asked

Her eyebrows did a small dance of deepest sadness, like I was a recalcitrant child. ‘I would think seven months.’ Her eyes were sorrowful

‘Then what?’ I said rather sharply, ‘death?’ she nodded. I was surprised at the accuracy. Also a little shocked followed by: I’m glad we had a good summer this year, I should have hated to miss that!

‘Do you have any more questions for me.’ Said she. I said that I didn’t but thought: ‘I’ll show you!’ and came away rather cross but quite determined to live – ‘for at least eight months’ I joked with my friend as we shared a hot chocolate in the sunshine that felt like midsummer.

She told me again that it is pointless to speak of complementary methods of treatment to doctors. I had posited that diet could slow the growth of cancer, she had shaken her head sadly but with total certainty, ‘It might make you feel better but it has no effect on the cancer.’  I demurred at least in part for having guzzled pints of green tea and missed out on roast dinners and pork crackling for nought. In fact I have discovered the most delicious ways with stir fried veggies so it has not all been wasted  and I do feel healthier than before I discovered the cancer advent. Which is maddening.

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A Meeting

I met my lungs today

A first time meeting,

blind date type of thing

the right looked right

as a lung should be, apparently

the left swam in a miasma, a type of soup

it evaded capture by xray

an evasive organ see?

You reckon its cancer?

I asked the cool young stud

Who was doctoring me

I don’t know he said

Sent me for a blood test

A breath test – a complicated business

Of huffing and puffing in,out,in,out

I bought a Costa coffee at vast expense

Against my principals too

Drove home in wonderful sunshine

Tonight I will repot my tomato plant

Give it room to breath….


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Since July when cancer added itself to my bodily repertoire I have learned some new accomplishments. Some excellent, some not so good. Primary among them has been a skill for waiting: in hospitals mainly, travelling to and from hospitals and an overload of generalised waiting. That and not knowing to what extent this joker has taken root – if indeed it has –for some time I was not sure owing to conflicting letters from the hospital. This has been sorted & all that remains is to discover the extent of its invasion.  It seems that my left lung is busily entertaining cancer while the right is perhaps cancer free. There is no possibility of operating on it so we are, apparently, hoping for containment. I hope we can be friends.

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I had been wheezing for some time when I phoned my doctor. She was busy so I saw a locum who diligently listened to my lungs for some time and sent me for an X-ray and blood test straight away. I found this a little alarming but had an appointment booked for the next week so didn’t worry unduly. Then I was hurried off to have further tests and cancer was mentioned which got me distinctly unnerved.. on my second visit a rather morose young woman doctor assured me that it was indeed cancer and is inoperable.

First I felt extremely sorry for myself, I became a sad sack indeed I was also extremely annoyed – just when I had finally discovered a deodorant that suited me!  A kind of ‘why me’ programme took over for a few days. Then I got my first message of condolence and that made me realise that I did NOT have to go along with this victim stuff. I didn’t feel ill, in fact I felt rather better than usual and I decided: I will not buy into the big C scenario with me enjoying being pitied, I hate being pitied and would prefer almost anything rather than that. I have decided that I don’t want to be defined as a cancer patient & don’t intend to change my lifestyle apart from sensible things like stopping smoking fags, giving up red meat and eating nice healthy green vegetables, which I like anyway. I don’t want to get into the fight that cancer game which I know works for some but which I feel gives it undue emphasis, I hope to banish it by effort of will and  bloody mindedness. If this doesn’t work and I do get ill I will review the situation then but for now I intend to carry on enjoying my life which has improved immeasurably in the last few years since I met my present life partner (NOT death partner you will note!) and after all I am hardly being cut down in me prime am I?

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