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Reblog: Worse than Childbirth

Lanthie’s journey back to health continues with initial dental work.
Please stop by and show your support, thank you.

Lump, what lump?

I had the best intentions of sitting in my hospital bed yesterday morning posting a little more but as I was a”special” case patient, they rushed me through to surgery as soon as I’d finished filling in various documents at the hospital.

Yesterday was truly the worst day in my life.  I was at my lowest when I woke up from surgery.  It was worse than Childbirth.

Not that I have much experience with childbirth.  I had 4 children but only the first was via the natural cannal.  I was not shy to use pain meds either but with an epesiotomy, I found myself in pain and unable to sit for 6 weeks.  It made me wise enough to elect to have a caesar for my last 3 children.  I love sex far too much to be weary of my nether regions.

So what happened yesterday……

I had 13 of…

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Reblog: No Sympathy Required.

Hi there, how is your weekend going?
Happy and healthy, I hope, with no niggling little worries?

Well, I’d like to take a moment to tell you about a new blog, which I have been helping a friend set up today.

Lanthie has recently had some rather scary news and, instead of hiding herself away and feeling sorry for herself, she has chosen to write about it in her usual way; with humour, strength and humanity.

So I’d like you to do me a big favour; go over and say hi to Lanthie and give Lump, what lump? a follow.

Thanks

Lump, what lump?

Hello dear world

This post is written by a mere mortal.

A self realization has dawned; that there are things that scare me and the reality that we all die.
I am not the sort who plays the victim or who likes to play on others’ emotions, so this post is not meant to envoke any sympathy from any of you out there.

I was reading FB earlier today and noticed a post by a friend who was in hospital having what I think is her breast removed. Yes, she has cancer.

And yes, so do I.

At first, I thought about contacting her and asking questions and telling her that it will all be ok. But to be honest it all feels a bit awkward.

One doesn’t want to pry.

So what does one do in a situation like this?
I suddenly realized that she is probably not too…

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My friend, Chris: Farewell to an unlikely hero…

Your life is what you make it, but even more so, your life is what makes you.
If that really is the case, and I firmly believe that it is, a large chunk of my life is made up of Chris.

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I have written before about our early friendship, I have also written about his battle with alcoholism, a demon which he laid to rest some months ago with a strength of character I believe surprised even himself.
But now I have to write a post that holds none of the happy nostalgia or new hope that fueled those earlier installments, instead it has come time to write the final chapter and to say goodbye.

If ever there was someone I considered a permanent fixture in my life, it was Chris.
He and I clicked almost immediately, back in the far-off days of our teenage wild years, spent in his mum and dad’s large family home or one of my many bed-sits, (and before too long, the shared apartments, houses and flats of various friends, along with the many pubs and clubs in and around the leafy Sussex commuter belt town of Crowborough where we “grew up”, for want of a better term) and once we’d got to know each other, I don’t think there was any doubt we’d always be friends.

Although, from an outsider’s point of view, I’m sure that it was often hard to tell we were friends at all, for all the time we spent bickering and arguing.
Our debates, disagreements and differences of opinion took on something of a legendary status, to the point that people would stop what they were doing to come and spectate.
Yet we never actually fell out, or got into a serious fight over anything, there was always that underlying connection that protected our friendship from any lasting damage, that indefinable bond which we forge with our oldest friends, the one we don’t always name, but we all know is love.

So many of our cultural preferences are formed in those tumultuous, late-teenage years; music, literature and other, um, “recreational” activities, and Chris and I eagerly devoured each other’s record and book collections, so much so that I (at the time a staunch metal and prog rock fan) quickly developed a liking for Alien Sex Fiend and The Cure, whereas Chris started to appreciate the value of double concept albums and the five minute guitar solo. (to the extent that he recently told me he’d like “Sheep” by Pink Floyd to be played at his funeral)
And we both hated Genesis.
He is also largely responsible for my interest in reading science fiction and in particular the extraordinary Illuminatus! trilogy and the psychedelia-charged work of Philip K Dick and long-time Hawkwind collaborator, Michael Moorcock.

Despite the fact that we were out of contact for several years after I moved to Devon, when we met up again it seemed like no time had passed between us, the way it is with the strongest of relationships, we picked up where we left off as though the intervening years had been on fast-forward.

I’d like to think I was of some assistance to my old friend, helping him combat the illness that ultimately laid waste to so much of the life he had built for himself, even if it was only to apply my own brand of tough love, refusing to fall into the trap of reinforcing his behaviour or pandering to any denial of his problem.

But I cannot state strongly enough how Chris’s own willpower and desire to overcome his problems transformed him into someone I have recently heard described as “a hero” and “an extraordinarily strong person” by members of the many online support groups he joined as a part of his recovery.
Because the terrible irony that makes Chris’s story so tragic is that, as he pulled himself out of the dark place that drinking had taken him, it was only to be told that the effects had only been masking a more insidious enemy.

Chris was diagnosed with advanced esophageal cancer last summer.
It was a phone conversation I doubt I’ll ever forget.
He was remarkably matter-of-fact about it, saying; “I expect you know what I’m going to say don’t you?” after only the most casual of hellos, almost as if I should have been waiting for his call.

That phone call marked the start of Chris v2.0 as far as I was concerned:

The Chris who became so popular at some of his alcohol support groups (he once told me laughingly; “Hey, I’m an alcoholic AND I’ve got cancer, I’m practically a superstar!”) that he got requests to act as counsellor for whole sessions. His self-deprecating humour and lack of self-pity was obviously of great inspiration to his fellow sufferers.

The Chris who took phone calls from new group members at three o’clock in the morning when they needed advice and support.

The Chris who, only a few short years ago, would have scoffed at the thought that people from online forums from all around the world (both for sufferers of alcoholism and cancer) would be thanking him for helping them turn their lives around and for providing the foundation for personal strength and recovery.

The same Chris who, as I recently discovered, has been a source of enormous comfort and inspiration for a great many people affected by the terrible disease that has touched so many lives.

This is the spirit of the Chris I always knew, the core personality of the happy-go-lucky and generous friend I shared so many of my most important years with and the one I will always remember with love and affection, not to mention the fact that, with all we went through together, maybe I was just the lucky one.

A few weeks ago Chris was admitted to the hospice at Exeter hospital, where he was looked after wonderfully by the dedicated and cheerful staff, all of whom had obviously been affected by his unique charm and humour in the face of adversity.

I visited him a few times, once in the company of another old mate from Sussex and that day we were able to reminisce about old times and take him for a spin around the gardens and he was in pretty good spirits, if woozy from the painkillers.
Even then it was obvious he was moved by each new message from his “fans” on the internet that I passed on, but right up until the last time I saw him it seemed to escape him as to why so many people felt that connection with him.
He just didn’t get what it was about him that meant so much and endeared him to so many people.

To me, he was my friend.
It’s as simple, and as complicated, as that.

Chris, my friend, died peacefully this Easter weekend, just as the world begins to come back to life.

It was chaotic, hilarious, frustrating, embarrassing, messy, loud, annoying, sometimes painful, (usually for him) childish and ridiculous for most of the time we spent together, (mainly for other people) even when we had supposedly grown up….

And this is the point at which I’m supposed to say;
“…and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

Except of course, I’d rather have it any way that meant Chris was still here.

Because, just think, if all these people who had only just met Chris v2.0, if they all loved him as much as they so obviously did, just think how much more good he could have done.

I think if he really knew how much he had touched us all…

…Oh alright, he would have told us we were all talking bollocks.

But we know.

Goodbye Chris, I love you mate.
I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have made the journey with.

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(He’d be SO pissed off if he knew I’d used this picture)

For Chris.

 
25 Comments

Posted by on April 5, 2015 in Personal anecdote

 

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Saying F.U. to the big C…

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Movember is almost upon us again, raising money for men’s health in general and prostate cancer in particular. 
We shall once again be participating at work and I would encourage those of you with the ability to grow the requisite facial adornment to take part too.
So expect all manner of fabulous face fungus to start appearing on a top lip near you soon.
You can donate here.

Which brings me rather neatly to the topic of this Diary entry.

Once again I am writing in response to a post by the ever-reliable Adam Pain who has bestowed a great accolade on me. More about that later…

First I’d like to share an expanded version of the comment I left on Adam’s blog this morning, the subject of which is losing loved ones to cancer;

I clearly remember my brother in law turning up on the doorstep at our new home in Devon at 4.30am, having driven the 300 miles from the London hospital where Dad had been taken after collapsing at a business function due to the unseen and spreading tumours in his lungs, brain and spine.
We raced back there, thinking we might be too late, getting there just as he regained consciousness.
As it turned out, he lasted long enough to be given the news that my sister was pregnant with his grandson and for us all to have a last chance to say goodbye.

Seeing the rapid and merciless way the cancer had devoured his usually imposing frame, it was hard to believe this was the same upbeat and positive man who had told me “Oh, don’t you worry, we’re going to beat this” only a few weeks previously.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t my first taste of dealing with the most indiscriminate of killers.

I was just nine when Mum was struck down by a brain tumour, forever leaving me with the image of her dropping to the floor in convulsions, incoherently repeating a bizarre litany made up entirely of numbers.

A frightening experience for a little boy, as you can imagine.
But not as frightening as the look on Dad’s face a few short months later (which with hindsight I now know to have been helpless grief) as he came into my room and, kneeling next to my bed as I roused myself from sleep, told me that he was sorry, but mummy had “just got weaker and weaker, until she couldn’t hold on any more and she died.”

He was sorry.
As if he could have done anything to save this wonderful, gentle woman from the treacherous mutation of her own cells.
Even now the irrational, impotent anger I feel towards the nebulous and malign enemy who took my mother from my sister and I can return unbidden, when I see her in old photos or hear a song she liked on the radio.

She didn’t smoke, she had an active, healthy lifestyle, and yet she was just as helpless to defend herself against this attack from within as any twenty-a-day tobacco fiend.

We were all lucky enough to have a final, carefree French camping holiday with her in the months following her initial illness and operation, when it all seemed like some sort of terrifying bad dream, only to lose her to subsequent complications when the tumour returned.

So many people’s lives are touched by cancer, hardly anybody is unaffected in some way.

Elaine and I spent many days caring for Elaine’s father (with the help of the extremely dedicated Macmillan nurses) as he became increasingly ill, his eventual passing being all the more painful for Elaine as we were so far away at the time.
And we lost a very dear friend only a few years ago who was, shockingly, younger than me and had always instantly been the absolute life and soul of every party she walked into.

Cancer doesn’t give a toss who it takes, it doesn’t care about your feelings. We’re all potential victims and should therefore take whatever opportunities are offered to join the fight to defeat the silent killer.

Well I’ve done a fair bit in the past to raise money for charity (although like all those saintly celebrities, “I don’t like to talk about it”) and I’m about to get involved in something just as worthy, but a lot more fun than lumbering around the moors in the middle of the night or dressing up like a gay Native American at work.

I am incredibly honoured to reveal that I am to be attending the Golden Face Palms, Adam Pain’s award ceremony for the über-numpties that spoilt everyone’s year by stubbornly continuing to exist.
The deal is that I go to the event, (ticket details to follow – you too can attend this prestigious occasion) accept the award for the particular dullard I nominated for inclusion, and mumble a few short words of acceptance through the haze of alcohol, jostling paparazzi and groupies. (at least I’m reasonably sure that’s how these things go) and try not to fall over on the way back to my table.

Adam has written a very poignant and touching article to accompany the announcement of the ceremony and I would take it as a personal favour if, having taken the time read my post, you also go to A World Of Pain via THIS REALLY BIG, OBVIOUS LINK and see what he has to say.
That is where you can find details of the Golden Face Palms themselves.

(You can also donate to the Macmillan Cancer Care Trust via the Macmillan link above)

 
12 Comments

Posted by on October 27, 2013 in Awards, Blogging, Personal anecdote

 

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