Sunday, 21 December 2008

Part 16 - Like A Balding Dome

Infuriatingly, a few weeks ago I titled one of my blog entries ‘Dancer, Prancer, Vomit and a Chest Infection’. It’s only now, when I’m desperately trying to think of another fun title which incorporates both the festive season and cancer, that it appears glaringly obvious that both Dancer and Prancer rhyme with cancer and that I inexplicably spurned this golden opportunity. This has left me with a pauper’s choice of pun options, so much so that at one point I had ‘Feeling Elfier’ in unjustifiably large, bold and proud lettering at the top of this page. So, after growing increasingly furious with my seemingly diminishing creative powers, I’ve decided to scrap a Christmas-themed blog for one with a more extensive scope for lexical horseplay.

Due to the last month being peppered with annoying infections and other minor illnesses, I’ve enforced a temporary reclusion upon myself. This is because I can’t receive my treatment when I’m ill which, in turn, drags it out longer than is strictly necessary - thus potentially ruining my social plans upon my recovery which have been meticulously calculated to coincide with the rebirth of my hair. However, luckily, two of these events are Bob Dylan concerts where a chromed head is somewhat of an expectation. The last time I saw him I honestly remember pointing out that I was one of the few audience members that wasn’t currently balding - an observation which has now taken on what is, in my opinion, an excessive amount of irony. My life is like a hilarious sitcom, except one where young men get potentially life-threatening diseases and do literally nothing remotely entertaining or interesting with their time.

Long-term Cancerous Capers readers might remember that my mother abused my illness to get two free VIP tickets for me and her to see Dylan Moran earlier in the year. This sparked off an absolute terror within me that I was going to be dragged backstage for a heart-warming local press photo opportunity where I’d probably have to vastly exaggerate how much I liked Dylan Moran, and he’d have to pretend he enjoys meeting ill people even though the vast majority of them are clearly intolerable. Bob Dylan is another matter altogether, however. I would down three undiluted pints of chemotherapy just to share one moment of eye contact with the man and, considering that merely typing that has just made me feel exceptionally ill, I do not say that lightly.

This leaves me in somewhat of a moral quandary. Is it acceptable for me to attempt to contact the man himself and inform him that his concerts will play a significant role in my reintegration to normal health, secretly harbouring the hope that he’ll bring me backstage to share drôle anecdotes and shower me with rare gifts like a big Jewish Santa Claus? I think he’d be quite pleased to know that he’s provided a bit of a light at the end of a young man’s cancerous tunnel, but it may also make my own personal hero think that I’m either an opportunistic little rascal or a man who has decided to lie about having cancer in a sinister plot to try trick him into a meeting.

There is also the risk that I may hate Bob Dylan at that point as chemotherapy has turned me against many of my absolute favourite things due to association. If I experience something such as a song or a foodstuff when I’m hooked up to my treatment it is likely that I will never be able to experience the same thing ever again without feeling exquisitely ill. These things so far include Terry Wogan‘s face, gammon steak and the works of Maryhill troubadour Donovan. If Bob Dylan were to fall into this list of things there is every chance that I could be sick right on his head if I were ever to actually meet him, which would probably be the low point in both of our lives.

However, despite these perils that I face, I think I’ll send an email and see what happens. Even if I just get a reply from someone who may or may not know Bob Dylan telling me to leave him alone I’d mark that down as a small honour and a personal victory.

By the way, ‘Like a Balding Dome’ sounds a bit like ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ - perhaps Dylan’s most well-known song - and from thence the humour arose. Do you see?

Anyway, merry Christmas cancer fans.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Part Fifteen - A Kick in the Follicles

You’ll be pleased to know that I’m feeling much more like my usual self this week. However, you should bear in mind that my usual self is a young man with cancer who has been undergoing chemotherapy for four entire months so this news isn’t as thrilling as you may imagine. I’ve been forced into almost complete reclusion for the last three weeks due to me containing about as much energy as a dehydrated stick of celery. Consequently, I lack a fun story to tell you from my week as I’ve basically just been waking up at 4pm every day, eating lots of oatcakes and watching David Starkey’s Monarchy. I could use this blog to detail at length why Richard the Lionheart was such a shit, but you may be more interested in an update of my hair.

My current style can only be described as a detritus. It coped wonderfully well until about a month ago, but then I started to wake up every single morning with a kilogram of hair attached to my generously vaselined lips. Before you cast small-minded judgement upon me for using a product renowned as an anal sex aid on my mouth, you should be aware of both quite how dehydrated chemotherapy makes you and just how fabulous it makes my lips look. I took a number of measures to try and make my hair remain intact which mainly involved using a range of different shampoos, just incase it was actually my choice of hair product that was making my hair fall out and not the four months of intensive cancer treatment. One of these bottles has the motto “There’s more to life than hair, but it’s a start!” on the back which, many a day, I read in floods of tears as my hair disappeared down the plughole. Fuck you, Aussie Shampoo.

I’m not bald, but I do look very much like a Barbie doll that a toddler has maniacally attacked with a pair of scissors. I’m now put in a position where I need to decide whether I should bother to keep the hair that I have or just get rid of it. The problem is that a bald head is to a cancer patient what the yellow Star of David was to Jews in Nazi Germany. That could possibly be construed as wildly offensive as I’m essentially likening an entire religion to a terrible disease whilst also throwing in a flippant mention of the Nazi holocaust, but I mean that it’s a form of instant identification. With my wisps of hair coming out from underneath my hat, I’m still reasonably confident that I can swagger around town in the cunning guise of an entirely healthy man. However, I definitely need to shave it at some point or I’ll have two very different lengths of ridiculous hair when what I have lost begins to grow back. Also, my new hair could end up being a completely different colour to my original hair so, if I don’t shave it, I could end up looking like a very shit and low-budget Batman villain.

On the bright side, three weeks of incessant vomiting and unprecedented fatigue has brought my weight right back down to what it was before I started treatment. I’ve lost about seven kilograms but, worryingly, I don’t actually look physically different. Perhaps all of my vital organs have just withered and halved in size. I am once again a svelte and graceful eleven-and-a-half stone man though, and that’s all that matters. Why Bella magazine haven’t shared the ‘cancer combined with a massive chest infection’ diet with their legions of seemingly obese readers I will never know.

http://photos-a.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-snc1/v1393/196/4/788189502/n788189502_1160576_4337.jpg

That picture is perhaps only funny to me as only I know how much time and effort I put into it, and yet it still looks like I did it with my feet.

Make sure you pick up your copy of the Glasgow Guardian at some point during the week, Glasgow cancer fans. My inaugural column has been published and you’ll find it on page four of the Insight section. I refused to send them a picture of me due to my diminishing appearance so they decided to use a picture of a spiky heart monitor on a red cross background instead. This seems a bit dramatic to me, and may make people mistakenly think that my current life is a constant string of thrilling medical sagas like a never-ending episode of ER. Little does the student populous know that I actually just spend most of my time watching endless Deal or No Deal repeats in my pants.

Finally, what’s the bet that at least seven people have bought me this for Christmas?

http://www.hotsurvivors.com/Cover4Web.jpg

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Part Fourteen - Dancer, Prancer, Vomit and a Chest Infection


The last fortnight can only be described as an interminable nightmare. After spending a vast proportion of my recent time boastfully lauding it over other cancer patients due to me feeling tip-top, the Cancer Fairy finally took it upon himself to mercilessly beat me into the ground with his giant stick of misery. A few of you may have noticed that I couldn’t even expend the energy to write a blog last week, but I’ve finally managed to haul my laptop open through fear that people might assume that I’ve actually died. The good news is that I’m still very much alive. The bad news is that I’ve barely been able to stand up for twenty seconds without becoming nonsensically out of breath and I currently feel like I’m pregnant with pure, unadulterated evil.

The problem arose around this time last week when I was diagnosed with a chest infection. I had been feeling a tad below par for about a week before this and I had considered phoning up my ward to tell them that exact fact. However, I’m never quite certain how bad I have to feel to phone up a ward that deals almost exclusively in chemotherapy without fear of being greeted with derision. As a general rule, chemotherapy patients aren’t as happy-go-lucky and effervescent as you may assume. If I had phoned up to tell them that I felt “a tad below par” it may have been pointed out that I had been having intensive cancer treatment for about four months, and then I might have felt a bit silly. So, having allowed my fear of very slight social embarrassment to exacerbate my condition for a few days, I awoke with a raging temperature and was hurried along to Perth Royal Infirmary.

I wasn’t particularly worried about this, I had been told to expect all manner of infections here and there due to the fact that I currently have the immune system of a small HIV positive insect. However, there’s something about having six visibly concerned medical professionals gathered around you that makes you question what they know that you don’t. After much deliberation, they decided that I’d need to spend at least two nights getting constant antibiotics through a drip at Ninewells Hospital. This news whipped up scant enthusiasm within me. I had been to Ninewells a few times before and each visit appears to be more emotionally crippling than the last. If I’m not getting told that I have cancer, I’m visiting dying relatives, getting my neck sliced open or ejaculating into a tiny pot in a cold, lonely room. If something goes wrong in my life, Ninewells almost always rears its ugly head as the grim setting. It is to me as the Fuhrerbunker is to Adolf Hitler.

Arriving at Ninewells’ haematology unit, I couldn’t help but notice that there was a tantalising selection of whisky, gin and other spirits on a tray next to the massive TV. I don’t know why Dundonian cancer patients require a minibar but I felt comforted by the fact that, if my boredom was to reach dangerous levels, I could always get off my mash and stomp around the corridors after midnight - most likely wearing nothing but a vast array of medical paraphernalia as a giant, funny hat. After 20 full minutes of fantasising exclusively about this possibility, I was ushered through to a small room by a young female doctor who looked uncannily like Geri Halliwell to learn my grim fate. “Can I come?” asked my Mother, at which point Doctor Spice looked at me and whispered “Do you know her?” - evidently thinking that she was an insane drifter woman desperate to latch onto a complete stranger’s medical consultation.

Bracing myself to be told that one and a half of my lungs had fallen off, the Doctor tapped me on the chest a few times, made me breathe a bit and then shooed me away home with a big sack of drugs to keep me happy. I didn’t quite know how to react - what had she missed that my Perth doctors were so gravely concerned about? Also, whilst it was obviously a relief that I didn’t have to spend the night in the same room as four terminally ill and incontinent old men, I couldn’t help but feel slightly aggrieved that the decision to stick a giant needle in the back of my hand in preparation for intravenous antibiotics had proven to be overenthusiastically premature. Anyway, I removed such trivial matters from my head and skipped away home once again reassured that I am, in fact, indestructible.

In hindsight, I actually think that a night or two in hospital may have been preferable to this fortnight of utter misery caused by the unholy alliance of antibiotic tablets and chemotherapy. I’ve felt preposterously ill, all the while waking up to people’s Facebook status updates about how terribly rough they were feeling because they threw caution to the wind and had an extra Apple Sourz the previous night. I would have crawled through a tunnel woven together from shards of glass, out-turned salt and vinegar crisp packets and pig faeces to have experienced just five minutes of a glorious hangover this week. You people don’t know you’re born.

Anyway, happily, my tyrannical antibiotics regime ended today. I felt that I should explain my Cancerous Capers absence before Paul McCartneyesque rumours started flying about regarding my mortality. I should return to my usual bubbly self within a few days, and I’ll attempt to create a slightly funnier entry for next week when I’m not one sudden movement away from explosively vomiting.

Take care, cancer fans.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Part Thirteen - You Can’t Mistake My Urology


Yesterday was probably the day that the proportion of medical professionals in Perthshire who have seen my testicles finally exceeded the proportion of those who haven’t. These days, it’s a rare occasion when I leave the house and return without having been paraded around a doctor’s clinic wearing nothing but a weary grimace. The latest addition to this ever-expanding catalogue of testicular tales was a follow-up appointment to the ultrasound procedure that I underwent just a few short weeks ago. An appointment that cemented my place in history as the first man to be taken to a urology clinic by his own mother - an act that’s usually shrouded in shame, secrecy and an uncomfortable rash.

At the reception, I was greeted by a woman who had the most harrowing case of a female moustache I had ever seen. It’s just as well she worked in a urology clinic as, sooner or later, she’s going to realise that such an extreme case of hormone imbalance can only be explained by the prescence of testicles and she might want to have herself checked out. Luckily, there was no repeat of the embarrassing incident at the reception desk of the ultrasound clinic where my bold proclamation of why I was there was greeted with a hushed silence throughout the busy room. We were all filthy vermin with something wrong with our spanglers here, and we were all visibly relieved to be in a place where we could scream it from the rooftops without being shunned by society.

In fact, I found the sense of camaraderie between men with malfunctioning genitalia quite heart-warming. For instance, when I was called through to the secondary waiting room I sat down beside a bespectacled old man. After a few minutes of silence, a nurse came through and asked us if we would mind if two young female medical students could sit in for our examinations. As it happened, I did mind - I had had quite enough of medical students using my genitals as a reference manual. I politely declined, a decision which probably made the nurse assume I had an incredibly inadequate penis. However, the old man wasn’t so quick to waste this opportunity. As quick as a flash, he quipped “I’ll show them mine if they show me theirs!” and looked at me with a big, proud smile on his face. I actually found it quite funny, which I think is a depressing indicator that I’m spending far too much time with ill old men these days.

In the clinic, my doctor introduced himself as Mr. Halliday. I was going to question why a man titled Mister had the authority to look at my balls but, to be honest, I’m past the point of caring. I whip them out for any Tom, Dick or Harry these days. As I began to disrobe, he said something which, at the time, appeared to be the most bizarre statement which has ever been uttered to me - “You should wear y-fronts, not boxers”. This seemed like a baffling overstep of all conventional boundaries in a doctor/patient relationship. I had gone to hospital to receive my ultrasound results, and yet apparently I had inadvertently nominated myself to undergo an impromptu rating of my how well I suited my underpants by the NHS’s answer to Gok Wan. He must have noticed the utter shock and confusion of my face, as he quickly went on to explain that tighter pants are more beneficial for testicular health. Brilliant, perhaps I could claim a free thong from the NHS.

As for the results, he said that my testicles “looked great” and I was unashamedly thrilled with this compliment. The cyst that had kicked off the entire panic was, somewhat dismissively, referred to as “tiny” in the report. A wording which makes it sound like I had just found the flimsiest excuse possible to expose myself to as many middle-aged men as I could without getting arrested. He rounded off the conversation by asking if there was anything else I’d like to ask him and, whilst thousands of questions for a urologist swam around my head, none of them were appropriate for a medical consultation. My testicular adventures at an end, he reached out to shake my hand and said “Don’t worry, I wash them frequently!”. Textbook urology humour. He laughed, I laughed and so concluded another cracking day out in hospital.

As far as I’m aware, this spells a definite end to all the testicle chatter as no further action is required, except tighter pants - you lucky, lucky ladies. Where this leaves the blog, I just don’t know - it’s fed off of my genitals for quite a long time now. I could do a hair update next week as it’s taken a terrible turn for the worse. It’s so patchy and rubbish that I now look like a deranged serial killer. I may have even felt compelled to visit a wigsmith by this time next week, so stay tuned.

By the way, the title of this is a play on words from the lyrics of ‘Biology’ by Girls Aloud. I feel I had to explain that for you to fully appreciate it.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Part Twelve - Sitarded


I’ll be honest with you, cancer fans, I have absolutely nothing to write about this week. There is no cancer news, and I was stalling this week’s entry so I could tell you about the acquisition of my sitar which I was supposed to be collecting in Edinburgh today - but this plan has hit a stumbling block. This is mainly because what was my sitar is now a million shards of ethnically decorated sawdust due to my dealer apparently choosing to package the instrument in a casing woven together with sea shells, spider webs and magic. Some people questioned the logic of buying a sitar from a woman who’s best idea for a stab at running her own business was creating a belly-dancing emporium in the centre of Edinburgh, and I will never doubt these people again. If you haven’t yet watched the video of Hilary prancing about her Bazaar, I suggest you look at this all-too-brief excerpt from the ‘Hilary Live’ DVD - now available in all good shops called Hilary’s Bazaar in Edinburgh:

http:// uk.youtube. com/watch?v=1Ou_C8udkoY (copy/paste that and remove the spaces that I've put in just incase she googles herself, finds this attack and sues me)

Would you give money to this woman? Perhaps I should be pleased that the deal had to be cancelled before I further fuelled her Moroccan hasheesh habit. Looking back, it was an odd proposition from the very beginning. Her first reply to my email said that she could offer me a £450 sitar for £300 because it was missing a string, but added that she would throw in an entire packet of strings with the deal. At this point, the more savvy amongst you may have begun to question the business acumen of a woman who introduces a 33% discount on an expensive item specifically to save her the effort of putting one string onto a sitar, but not me. I thought this was, without doubt, a cracking deal. However, living on the paltry benefits spat at me by our miserly government, even this offer was out of my reach.

I replied to inform her that I had a budget of about £200 - I wasn’t trying to haggle, I was just telling her in case she knew of any cheaper instruments. However, as quick as a flash, she replied to tell me that I could have it for this exact amount and that it would be in the shop by the end of the week. Having slashed her asking price by half just because I happened to mention a figure, I began to question the sanity of this woman. I could probably have offered her a small handful of magic beans and she would have skipped off, clicking her heels, genuinely believing in her frazzled and bewildered mind that she had made the deal of the century. Unsure as to whether she had the remotest grasp of what was going on, we settled it on a virtual handshake and I awaited its arrival in Edinburgh.

I had mixed feelings when her email arrived. She had inspired little confidence within me, and I was almost certain something was going to go horribly wrong sooner or later. I imagined that I’d probably open the sitar case to find that she had got confused and filled it with hundreds of Hilary Live DVDs. She opened the email with the good news of “The sitars arrived…”, before delivering the deflating blow of “…in about fifteen pieces”. Perhaps overoptimistically, she claimed that it could be glued back together but then dropped the bombshell that it “probably wouldn’t be a great instrument”. The scattered remains of it were offered to me for £30 which I decided was too high a price for what would essentially be an incredibly difficult jigsaw which, upon completion, would make the noise of an arson attack on an Indian restaurant.

Where this leaves my sitar hunt, I just don’t know. I seriously received an email from her this morning that said “I’ll contact you in a week when I’m back from the desert”. Please note the complete lack of humour or irony, she is literally going to an actual desert. With each email it seems less and less likely that Hilary is a real person, and more likely that someone is having a massive, elaborate laugh at my expense.

In less infuriating news, I’m now almost a proper journalist. The Glasgow Guardian - Glasgow’s student newspaper - have given me what will hopefully turn out to be a regular column. I’m not entirely sure why they’ve done this, I misspelled ‘Glasgow’ in my original email to them which is probably the equivalent of turning up at an interview as a potential firefighter wearing a hat that’s engulfed in flames. It will basically be a scaled-down version of this blog, so I’d appreciate it if some of you could suggest what your favourite cancer moments have been so far so I know which ones to reuse.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Part Eleven - Scantastic News


I received my C.T. scan results today, and I think they can only really be described as C.T-rrific. I’m aware that I’ve already used that pun as my Facebook status, but it made me laugh so much that I had little choice but to use it again and it will definitely be said at least twice more by the time that this blog ends. Sadly, that will probably be the extent of your laughter in this blog as it’s going to be very much more medical than any of the preceding ones. It must be bourn in mind that this is a serious medical journal which will almost definitely be passed down through the ages to millions of cancer patients, and I can’t sully it by talking about my balls all of the time. I’ll leave that kind of crude filth down to Lance Armstrong, nemesis of Cancerous Capers, who’s woeful book is called “It’s Not About The Bike” - a fact that should probably be followed up with “Because it’s actually all about my filthy bollocks” in small print. When will the corrupting influence of this smut monger be stopped?

I read all of my blog entries from start to finish earlier on this week because I am a vastly egotistical man and can think of no better way to spend my time than laughing at words that have been written exclusively by me. Shockingly, I realised that I’ve never actually told you what Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is or where about in my body it was affecting me - two things that could be considered quite essential seeing as this entire blog is about nothing but my inspiring battle with this awful disease…oh and my balls, it is sometimes about my balls. It’s with this in mind that I feel I need to educate you before explaining my results. Now here comes the science, as Jennifer Anniston once childishly bemoaned in an advert for VO5 shampoo.

Lymphoma is a blood cancer which manifests itself in the lymph nodes, small organs that you have all over your body which produce white blood cells to fight infection. It slowly but surely spreads from lymph node to lymph node through your blood and, by the time I was diagnosed, I was affected in four areas of my body putting me at a slightly alarming stage three of a possible four. If I had waited much longer it very well could have moved onto my lungs or my bone marrow and made my recovery a much less likely prospect. As it happens, however, things are looking rosy and the doctor expects my final chemotherapy session in January to be the last I’ll hear from the disease. Because my CT results were C.T-rrific.

Of the four places in which I was affected - the lymph nodes in my neck, the outside of my lung, my spleen and my stomach for those of you taking notes - three of them are now considered to be of little significance and the largest of them, the one in my neck, has quartered in size since my diagnosis. On top of this, I’m feeling healthier than I have done for ages which I think confirms what everyone knew all along - having cancer and undergoing an intensive chemotherapy regime is far more beneficial to my everyday health than my Glasgow lifestyle ever was. However, my place in student history is now assured - the fable of ‘the fresher who partied so hard that he got cancer’ will surely be passed down as a cautionary tale to all fresh-faced eighteen year olds who think that it‘s either big or clever to drink Somerfield’s own-brand whisky in pint form and only clean their ensuite toilet twice in a nine month spell. The first being on Valentine’s Day as I’m a big romantic bastard and the second of which being the night before I moved out so that, after they inspected my room, they wouldn’t phone my mum and tell on me. Anyway, I digress - rejoice, cancer fans, for I am well on the way to recovery.

One thing I’ll definitely miss when I’m cured are the fantastically awkward situations that having cancer conjures up almost daily. Almost everyone seems desperate not to offend me, to the extent that grown men can be reduced to the human equivalent to one of those cowering, spindly dogs you see on RSPCA adverts. Amazingly, earlier this week I received a begging call from Cancer Research. Now, call me silly, but if there were one organisation that I would expect to come in frequent contact with cancer patients it would be one called ‘Cancer Research’ - the name is the giveaway. However, this appears not to be the case. “Mr. Ross, do you have any personal experience of cancer?” “Well, mate, now that you mention it…”. The man literally gasped, stumbled over the simplest of words, apologised at least seven times and then comfortingly proclaimed that “less people die of cancer now than ever”. Needless to say, I slept soundly that night with this nugget of information in mind.

It’s not just him either. I don’t know the extent of your knowledge when it comes to CT scanning but, basically, it creates a 3D x-ray of your entire body which shows up odd lumps that shouldn’t be there. This is what makes it ideal in discovering the extent of cancer within the body, and I imagine a vast percentage of people who get CT scans are cancer patients. This fact appears to have bypassed one bumbling CT nurse who led me to the changing room where I was told to remove my clothing and replace it with a hospital gown. “Can I keep my hat on?” I asked. I’m not bald by anyone‘s standards but my hair is certainly getting very thin and, being an incredibly vain man, I now tend to keep it concealed underneath a black Led Zeppelin hat in public. “Why, are you cold?” she replied. Yes, that’s exactly it. You’ve got it in one. It’s not as if I’m here exclusively for a scan, that you personally specialise in, to check upon the effects of three months of intensive chemotherapy which has made me slightly self-conscious about my hair at all. She then no doubt went off making crass suggestions to all number of people in the hospital, asking women in wheelchairs if they were feeling a bit lazy today or reassuring children in the burns unit that at least they’ll get a nice tan when the scarring heals. In fact, you could say that her people skills were anything but C.T-rrific.

Anyway, it’s been a good week. Barack Obama was amazingly elected in the USA, Jeremy Clarkson could get sacked after years of being the world‘s worst man, I’ve been told that I’m making excellent progress and I’ve finally managed to track down a sitar so my new hobby can kick off. It just makes you wonder what absolute shit storm is heading my way, find out next week.

P.S. www.cancerouscapers.blogspot.com - If you like this tell your friends or, alternatively, if you think it’s shit tell your enemies to mildly annoy them by wasting a few minutes of their time.

P.P.S. A small bit of advice to every single person on Facebook. Photographs of fireworks are never, ever interesting. You are wasting the internet.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Part Ten - Ultrasound? Ultra poor banter, more like.


It’s been somewhat of a bumper week in terms of hospital visits for your intrepid cancerous reporter. The first three days of my week were filled with a veritable cocktail of hospitalising adventures including passing the halfway milestone in my treatment, getting a CT scan and, finally, undergoing the altogether degrading spectacle of a testicular ultrasound scan. The main outcome of these experiences is the revelation that I’m growing tired of aging men gazing upon my naked form. It’s got to the stage when I think that it would be preferable if they sent me to Nuts Magazine Studios for a day to undergo a risqué photoshoot of me in various playful poses, and then distributed copies to various members of my medical team to prevent me from having to get completely Billy Bollocks in a hospital ever again. No doubt the penny-pinching NHS would claim that transforming me into a glamour model would be a waste of taxpayer’s money though, only in this bloody country…

The tell-tale signs that it was going to be a demoralising ordeal struck me right in the face from the very beginning. Swaggering into the busy reception area thinking I was the cat’s pyjamas, I shook out my headphones which were playing some loud rock and roll music and approached the attractive young receptionist to tell her that I had an appointment at 2.10pm. “Jamie Ross…a testicular ultrasound isn‘t it?” - a deafening silence immediately fell upon the waiting room. At this exact point about twenty people shared a moment of looking at me out of the corner of their eye and, to a man, thought ‘I wonder what’s wrong with his balls?’. Having been firmly put in my place, I quietly nodded and sat down to read Bella Magazine in a desperate attempt to avoid the gaze of every single person in the room.

I was called through after about twenty minutes of reading about Fern Britton’s dieting tips. It was dated March 2008, little did we know what an outrageous, lying, antichrist cow she was at the time. I was told to remove all of my clothes and replace them with a hospital gown which reached down to the midway point of my thigh, making sitting down in the waiting room for a further five minutes after changing a somewhat perilous experience. After experimenting with a series of leg-crossing manoeuvres, I was beckoned through to a small, darkened room by a rather dour looking Frenchman and told to lay down on the slab. It was only upon turning around that I realised, to my utter horror, that there were a further two people in the room looking on - both of them reasonably attractive nurses only slightly older than me. What the purpose of them being there except to make me feel incredibly self-conscious about my genetalia still, to this moment, remains a mystery. Anyway, picture the romantic scene - the lights were dimmed, my dress was flirtatiously raised up to my belly and a gelatinous substance was smeared all over my balls as the procedure began.

When I find myself in situations that unnerve me, I tend to try and make funny jokes. More often than not, these jokes just come out as an indecipherable noise and people shuffle about uncomfortably to pretend that they didn’t hear it. However, on this occasion, I had prepared a cracking line for my testicular ultrasound man and was absolutely certain that it would be a resounding success. With a little confident chuckle in my voice as he moved his ultrasound stick around my spanglers I quipped “So, do I get a little picture to take home and show my family like pregnant woman who get ultrasounds do?”. At worst, I expected this to be greeted with a sympathetic smirk considering that I was an inoffensive, nineteen-year-old, cancer-ridden boy undergoing possibly the most embarrassing medical procedure imaginable. What I got was a straightforward and steely “no“. A cold silence plagued the rest of the procedure as the two nurses, who were still inexplicably in the room, looked on. It had gone down like a shit sandwich.

It took about twenty horribly uncomfortable minutes in total, with the only conversation being “Can you push as hard as you can, as if you were going to the toilet?”. Letting out a colossal fart would have just been the icing on the cake of the horrendous ordeal, but luckily this didn’t come to pass. The procedure mercifully ended, I was handed a tissue to clean myself up with and one of the nurses pointed towards a bin for me to dispose of it. This crucial intervention obviously immediately justified her and her mate being present for the entire unfolding debacle. I scuttled out of the room to got changed, never to return. Happily for me, it was just a little cist and should require no further action. Sadly for you, cancer fans, this means that my testicular adventures at hospital are perhaps at an end - but it was fun while it lasted wasn’t it? Although it did sadly shatter the myth that the ‘ultra sound’ people are the coolest people in a hospital, in actual reality they hate all forms of high jinks and merry-making.

The other two procedures I underwent this week went without a hitch, except for one short moment when the dye that was injected into me for the CT scan caused an agonising burning throughout my arm and I turned the air blue by shouting ‘fucking hell!‘ in front of a visibly shocked elderly nurse. I won’t be getting the results of that scan until next Thursday and, excitingly, it will probably be the stimulus for my next blog. I can almost smell your anticipation.

Finally, there was a flicker of excitement this week when this blog was featured on the UK’s most popular entertainment blog - hecklerspray.com. I briefly became an internet sensation, receiving about 15 emails from kind strangers and the writers at Hecklerspray have been very cool with various pieces of advice on how to get this blog more publicity and, more generally, how to get a foot on the writing industry ladder. A lot of it is just word of mouth so if you think you know someone who might appreciate this please do pass it along to them. You can use the more memorable URL of ‘cancerouscapers.blogspot.com’ to spread the word as I’m sure you will - go forth my faithful cancerous foot soldiers. If you don’t, I’m going to have to start making up stories about having sex with Andrew Sachs as a desperate lunge for publicity. Wow - that was a bit topical, I should really be on Have I Got News for You.

Until next time, take care cancer fans.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Part Nine - Relight My Fryer


I don’t have much to do these days. Since I was diagnosed, virtual football management has been quite literally my sole responsibility. This is excellent news for the millions of pretend Sparta Prague supporters who are currently basking in the glory of a seventeenth consecutive championship triumph, but not such good news for the increasingly strained waistbands of every single garment that I own. My lack of activity combined with my incessant demands for Kettle Chips and Battenberg Cake has resulted in me putting on one full stone in little over two months. This didn’t concern me too much, I had resigned myself to the fact that I’m not going to be doing much seducing in the near future and I have been told by several medical professionals that I should be eating as much as I can. However, this all changed last week when - like a clichéd, bumbling obese character from an 70s television sitcom - my leather belt physically snapped into two pieces when I was trying to put it on.

On top of this, each time I receive treatment they insist upon weighing me and it’s turned into an altogether depressing ritual. There hasn’t been a two week cycle in which I haven’t put on at least two entire kilograms which is the equivalent of strapping two bags of sugar directly onto my inflating arse. My nursing team insist that me putting on weight is a good sign, but they’re hardly going to prod me in the stomach and dance around in a circle singing ‘podgy podgy cancer face’ are they? Having said that, I don’t actually see any reason why they should weigh me other than the desire to put me through yet another mildly humiliating saga - I have cancer, not bulimia. On many occasions I’ve considered screaming ‘Fuck off! I’m comfortable in my own skin!‘ and then running off in tears, much like Rik Waller did on Fat Club. Then I realise that the day you sympathise with Rik Waller is a very sad day indeed.

So, with these weigh-ins in mind and the sound of my belt snapping still ringing in my ears, I paid my very first visit to a place called ‘JJB Sports‘ to get some running clothes. The first thing that struck me was the unmistakable rubbery stench of sports equipment, something that hadn’t assaulted my nostrils since school PE three years ago. Immediately, this sent me back to terrible Wednesday afternoons spent huffing and puffing in tiny white shorts - a garment which, to this day, is responsible for my debilitating complex about my spindly, hairless legs. Anyway, I started to browse around feeling very conspicuous in my pie-stained Jimi Hendrix t shirt whilst being quite unsure about what I was going to get. I had never bought any sportswear before, plus I’ve been programmed to believe that anyone who wears Adidas clothing is an awful person. As far as I can see, sportswear is basically an industry that relies on needless purchases by neds and rugby players - the two worst genres of people currently known to mankind. However, eventually I swallowed my pride and settled for a smashing pair of navy blue tracksuit bottoms along with a Nike sleeveless vest. I may be getting podgy, but my arms can still only be described as awe-inspiringly colossal and I thought that this was the ideal piece of clothing to emphasise that point.

With my shiny new clothes and a burning hatred for the sight of my body I now had everything I needed to start my exercise regime. It would be a lie to say that I’m a stranger to running, but it’s usually after an ice cream van. I hadn’t actually done any proper exercise for about two years before Tuesday which, in hindsight, wasn’t a wise lifestyle choice considering my current dire state of health. Feeling faintly ridiculous in my vest - my upper half looked like a slightly under-inflated beach ball with two pieces of old, withered string sellotaped to either side - I shuffled out of the house and began what I intended to be a short one or two mile run. What actually transpired was an embarrassing series of breathless forty meter jogs, each ending with a five minute rest to massage my achingly painful stitch. I’d created a motivational play list for it including songs such as ‘Lose Yourself’ by Eminem and ‘Let’s Get It Started’ by the Black Eyed Peas - all up-tempo, inspiring tracks which just made my constant failures to run further than the length of a few small cars seem all the more shameful and ridiculous.

However, I persevered and forty-seven tiny runs is far better than of one big run in my eyes. I’m going to be doing three runs a week supplemented by sit-ups, push-ups and weights. By the next time many of you see me I’ll either be an intimidating hulk of a man, or I’ll give up my exercise regime within a week and be a fat, hideous mess. Either way my entire t-shirt collection, the pride of my existence, will sadly be skin-tight and therefore unintentionally very camp. Anyway - keep your eyes open for the next blog. I’m having treatment, a CT scan and a testicular ultrasound scan in the space of three days next week so it’s sure to be a hoot.

Part Eight - I Feel So Used


If you read my last blog, I’m relatively certain that you’ve spent more time thinking about my genitalia than you ever feared that you would. This leads me to some good news and, somewhat predictably, some bad news. The bad news is that, right now, you are inadvertently marching towards reading another one thousand two hundred and thirty-three words strictly upon the topic of my spanglers. The good news is that it’s a tale full of deep personal shame and humiliation which has become another bullet point on an ever-expanding list of reasons I have to be constantly ashamed of my existence. The first of which occurring within seconds of my birth when an experienced midwife outrageously claimed that I was the fattest baby she had ever seen. However, what you now need to decide is whether a satisfying hit of schadenfreude is worth the perils of having your mind occupied for a further five minutes by nothing but my filthy organs.

I’d like to mention at this stage that I’m already struggling to provide an adequate assortment of funny synonyms for testicles. I tried to find some through an internet search, but I refuse to use terms such as ‘spunk buckets‘ or ‘Thomas the Wank Engines‘. Actually, I made that last one up myself and I quite enjoyed it. But the fact remains that I can‘t sully this medical journal with infantile names for a gentleman‘s generative glands. Moving on with this in mind, readers of this blog will be aware that last week that I discovered an odd lump on my left twiddle diddle which was revealed to be nothing cancery, to my indescribable relief. My testicles shall remain intact. However, the fact remains that there is a small protrusion which I was told, to my utter horror, would need to be physically inspected as it‘s a possible treatment side-effect. I’d like to point out now that three different people have said to me “Are you sure it’s not your penis?” and that I would like this to cease.

So there I was in a tiny, cold room standing with my pants around my knees. I had chosen to shield my penis with my hand, a canny decision which obviously instantly removed any indignity from the situation. Before we began, my Doctor had made the considerate gesture of locking the door, but only realised after the examination had begun that the blind behind me was almost fully open - exposing my entirely naked arse to the main reception thoroughfare of ward two. As he hurriedly closed the blinds he claimed that no one had seen, and yet the knowing smirks from three members of the nursing staff upon my departure suggested otherwise. The examination had got off to the worst possible start, perhaps with the exception of becoming sexually aroused.

As he began to poke around he sceptically claimed that he “couldn’t feel anything”. Oddly enough this wasn’t the first time this has been said to me when I had no pants on, it’s a sentence that has plagued many of my romantic liaisons. However, this time it took on a deeper meaning than mere spiteful emasculation. Was he suggesting that I had lied about it, just so that I could come in and get molested by a man who’s never actually provided me with any concrete proof that he was a doctor? He may have had a white coat on, but I know for a fact that Christopher Hoggan owns one of these and yet it will be a cold day in hell when I drop my pants at his command. Understandably, I became defensive and insisted that there was something there whilst helpfully pointing at my testicle just incase he had become confused as to what and where a testicle is.

He then asked me to lie down so he could examine me further, so I waddled over to the bed with my pants remaining at my knees clutching onto my penis to shield it from his leering gaze. After more prodding, pushing and uncomfortable squeezing he cupped me and asked me to cough. “Why?” I cautiously enquired to prevent myself from inadvertently entering some form of bizarre foreplay. Apparently it’s quite a common test though, as I’m sure many of my debaucherous friends for whom genital examinations are routine will know. After a small ‘hmm’ noise he then asked me to recloth myself, which I did with a certain amount of eagerness.

I remained lying down as he wrote into his notebook and waited for him to break an indescribable silence that can only occur when a man has just gazed upon another man’s genitals. “I forgot to examine the lymph nodes on your groin” he said and, not realising that I’d have to disrobe again for him to do this, I lay back and confidently told him to proceed. This led to him to humiliatingly taking it upon himself to undo my belt and fly before depantsing me like some cheap floozy. This led to a bit more prodding here and there but, mercifully, it was the last act and I scuttled out of the room fully clothed before he “forgot” about any other demeaning examinations.

Even after this string of embarrassments, they’re not really any the wiser as to what it is besides the unanimous belief that it’s entirely innocuous. Fantastically, this means I’m going to have to get a testicular ultrasound scan next month which will probably multiply the number of medical professionals that have gazed upon my genetalia by at least 300%. I’ve put a funny Stewart Lee video at the bottom of this blog regarding embarrassing medical procedures for people reading this on Facebook, you should watch it. If you’re reading this on Bebo, I don’t care because I’ve become embittered by the inadequate attention that this receives on there. I choose to believe it’s because they’re too distracted by 15 year old girls’ holiday pictures.

Anyway, testicles aside, everything’s going swimmingly. I received my fifth treatment yesterday and it was as annoyingly uneventful as always. A few people have asked for updates regarding my hair. It still looks more or less the same, unless it’s soaking wet in which case I look like a malnourished cat at an animal rescue centre. I avoid heavy rain. Bizarrely, any hair loss stopped two weeks ago for reasons that I can’t explain. However, I now can’t change my routine whatsoever for the next three months in fear of ruining whatever I did to stop it.

Lastly, and somewhat upsettingly, the wristband campaign has ground to a premature halt. Tireless searching has shown 50 wristbands at a cost of £60 to be the best deal and this would patently be a ludicrous indulgence. The Daily Mail would spontaneously combust if I were exposed to be spending my benefits in such a frivolous manner, possibly claiming that the name ‘Bartley‘ is of Muslim descent. The only way I’d be able to purchase them is if I was popular enough to raise a contribution of half of the amount, but this is impossible due to the fact that I’m not Hannah Montana.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Part Seven - Stark Bollock Terror

The last few days have unquestionably been the most terrifying of my short yet colourful life so far. On Tuesday morning I was having a shower and whilst cleansing my intimate areas I discovered an ominous lump on my testicle. The left one, to be unnecessarily precise. This is surely enough to make any man curl up into a tiny naked ball and weep uncontrollably, but when that man is already receiving treatment for cancer an immediate suicide presents itself as by far the most attractive of a narrow set of options. However, drowning myself in the shower turned out to be an unrealistic goal. I wouldn’t have the dedication to keep my foot over the plughole for twenty-three hours even at my very lowest ebb.

I don’t know how much cancer research you’ve personally carried out but, as a man in the know, I can tell you that the only treatment available to testicular cancer patients is immediate surgical removal with a giant, rusty sword. Then the bloodied, pulsating testicle is presented in front of your tear-sodden eyes and popped, like a grape, with a knitting needle. I’m not looking forward to it much. Actually, I don’t need to look forward to it at all because I don’t have testicular cancer. It was something unrelated. I just wanted you to experience a tiny portion of the unrelenting panic that I’ve been in for the past two days which, ironically, has probably shortened my life expectancy more than testicular cancer ever could.

The concrete belief that I was not only going to lose one of my testicles but, also, that my cancer was spreading to my various organs gave me a temporary nervous breakdown. Not a proper medical one obviously, I’m not mental, but I ate a massive plate of shortbread at one point. We’re talking almost half of an entire packet, I was pretty low. I also spent an afternoon listening to music with salty tears running down my face trying to decide on a suitable soundtrack for my testicle’s burial. After much deliberation I settled upon ‘Foxy Lady’ by Jimi Hendrix, the anthem of every single one of my seductions, to remind us of the good times. Then after that, for the cancer‘s family, ‘We’re On The Ball’ by Ant and Dec. That joke took me literally one full hour to think up, but I’m sure you’ll agree that this was fully justified by the results. It can only be described as pun wizardry.

The best pun ever written aside though, it was the first time that all of this has actually scared me. It can attack my lymph nodes all it wants, I don’t even know what they do, but it would cease to be at all funny if it started to pick on my organs. Particularly if those organs were Excalibur or, as I thought this week, the Knights of the Round Table. I’m reliably informed, however, that this is practically impossible during my treatment as they know that it’s working well. I’m shunning migrant cancer cells seeking asylum in the safe haven of my body like an insane nationalist.

This week’s terror has, however, shaken my confidence enough for me to treat every single thing about my person with the utmost suspicion. A spot is now a face tumour, and a cough is one of my lungs falling off. Plus, I’m not getting fat, my man breasts are just two massive growths. I can safely say that it’s nothing to do with the two kilogram bucket of jellybeans that my podgy sausage fingers are nestled into right now which my Dad bought for me. A gift, considering the form of a jellybean, that would have taken on a cruel irony if I had heard there was something terribly wrong with my testicle.

But it was all a fuss over nothing, and gave me something a bit exciting to write about on here. However, I’m quite self-conscious of the fact that three out of seven of these blogs have now focussed on my genitalia. I’m concerned that, rather than becoming an inspirational Lance Armstrong figure, I’m turning into a peddler of smut like Jackie Collins. Why couldn’t it have been a nice dignified lump on my chin?

Anyway - another week, another emotionally crippling cancer scare.

P.S. As an extra little segment of my mind, mentioning Foxy Lady by Jimi Hendrix reminded me of a tip that I have for any young men reading this struggling with the ladies. The line from the song “I want to take you home, I won’t do you no harm” is a chat up line that works one hundred percent of the time. For best results approach her at a moment when she is alone, say it without breaking your intense eye contact and have a big toothy smile on your face.

P.S.S. In my perpetual quest to become the new Lance Armstrong, I looked into the possibility of buying a small number of custom made 'Jamie Ross - Cancer Slayer' wristbands to disperse amongst my friends this week. However, all of the websites have a minimum order requirement of about 250. This would be fine if I was Zack Efron but, at best, I probably know about fifteen people who would be willing to wear one of these. And even they would only do it out of an embarrassed politeness. This would leave me to wake up every morning to the depressing sight of three massive sacks of wristbands that I painstakingly designed myself, with my own name on it. To any visitors I’d look like an egotistical maniac that arrogantly assumed an eighth of the population of Kinross were desperate for a piece of Jamie Ross merchandise.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Part Six - Tea, Seaweed and Other Such Twattery


Cancer changes people. A brief glimpse at any cancer support website will reveal a number of previously sound-minded people turning to religion, outlandish voodoo medicines and writing pieces of poetry about their experiences with, more often than not, hilariously inept results. Personal favourites of mine include ‘I Wanted To Be a Dancer, But Then I Got Cancer’ and the inspiring verses of ‘Cancer Slayer’ which, coincidentally, is the only name that I will respond to after my treatment. Now this is fine, people cope with things in their own ways. I’ve sometimes thought that me writing funny cancer jokes on here is my coping mechanism, but really I just do it in the hope that I can guilt a company into publishing my inspirational tale so that I can swagger into my second year English lectures as Jamie Ross, published author. However, the arrival of seaweed supplements and green tea to the house this week at my explicit demand have confirmed what I feared all along - I’m turning into almost everything I despise.

A stark memory that I have of the day of my diagnosis, now just over two months ago, is ordering my Mum in the car on the way to hospital that, whatever was about to transpire, I mustn’t turn into a sanctimonious, religious, hippy prat - a fate that appears to have befallen so many of my cancerous comrades. I’ve fought it cancer fans, lord knows how I’ve fought it, and yet I’m currently sitting underneath a Buddhist healing pendant which is suspended from my window whilst enjoying my afternoon snack of seaweed tablets and a mug of unfathomably disgusting tea. I don’t know what makes green tea green, but from the taste of it I can only shudder to think. As I indulge myself in these patently frivolous and futile measures, I can only look at myself in my mirrored wardrobe doors whilst writing this and forlornly ask, what have I become?

Why is it that supposedly reborn people are always reborn as insufferable twats? I’m not claiming a personal rebirth, as that itself would make me sound like a one of them, but the arrival of these alternative medicines have confirmed that I’m certainly not the same sensible young man that I was just two months ago. Am I now consigned to a life of doing yoga, eating Actimel yoghurt and tutting at people who smoke? Am I forthwith going to shoehorn my condition into every conversation that I have and demand that everyone treats me as an inspirational figure? Am I going to transform the format of this blog so that it’s just a relentless series of rubbish poems about cancer? There is just no telling how far my impending twattery will stretch, it is a beast over which I have no control.

I’ve also thought about organising an event for the Teenage Cancer Trust, an act which would previously have made me think that the person doing it was an righteous idiot desperate for people to think that he was a fantastic man. A shameful belief to hold, perhaps, but one unquestionably justified by the mere existence of Bono from U2. What this particular charity does, however, is build hospital wards for teenage cancer patients to save them from the perils of hanging out in a treatment room that could easily be confused for a mortuary due to the withered inhabitants of it - a fate that greets me every fortnight. Being nineteen, I’d just be able to sneak into one of these teenage wards and be treated as a cool, worldly-wise older cousin. I can just picture the scene of a horseshoe of plucky youngsters gathering around Cousin Jayman to ask me about girls and suchlike, and then me having to desperately make up lies to keep up my painstakingly constructed illusion of coolness. There is also every chance that the creation of such a ward would bring me face to face with the cancerous young lady of my dreams. I can imagine few more romantic scenarios than our eyes flirtatiously meeting through a transparent chemotherapy drip bag, talking for hours on end about our various dire states of health pausing only to vomit every now and then. Do look out for the posters around Kinross advertising my massive charity extravaganza - ‘Give what you can to help Jamie Ross prey upon young, female cancer victims’.

However, what I ask of you - my friends - is not a charitable donation to aid my seductions. I need you to replace my moribund sense of rationality. If you see me buying any grocery product that has been described as a superfood, slap me really hard in the face. If I tell you to stop smoking, light a cigarette in front of my very eyes, smoke it and then stub it out in my ear. But, most of all, if you see me within 100 meters of a church I demand that you physically incapacitate me by any means possible. I hope I can fully place my trust in you to be cruel to be kind.

Once more, there’s little to mention in the way of medical updates - hence me having to use increasingly obscure aspects of having cancer to have something to write about. How in shitting crikey am I supposed to become the new Lance Armstrong if there’s next to no adversity to overcome? The worst side effect that I get is that I’m a bit thirsty or tired sometimes, I’m pathetic at being seriously ill. I’m on very little medication aswell, I just have one tablet which I have to take once a day for a cycle lasting fourteen days. With my treatment always being two weeks apart this tablet packet acts as some sort of horrific advent calendar counting down to my next dose, only with the delicious piece of elf-shaped chocolate being replaced with a disgustingly bitter pill to stop me being uncontrollably sick everywhere. There may be exciting times ahead, however, as I’ve been pencilled in for another CT scan in a few weeks to check on my progress. I mention this purely so that you don’t disown this increasingly uneventful series.

Part Five - A Letter


I awoke with a jolt of excitement today. I heard my door open, and through bleary eyes I saw my mother coming into the room with an envelope in her outstretched arm. What could this be? A wistful letter of love from an old flame? A reply from the Make A Wish Foundation about my demand to meet Paul McCartney? A massive order for Jamie Ross charity wristbands? Of course not, it was a letter from my old mates at the sperm bank.

I don’t know how you like to start your day, cancer fans. Maybe some of you like to have an invigorating shower or indulge yourself in a freshly toasted bagel. However, I’d venture that very few of you would choose to wake up by receiving a letter straight from the desk of a sperm nurse which, in its very first sentence, informs you that you have a “slightly low sperm count“. Avid readers of this blog will know that I had to give a sperm sample last month due to the small chance that my treatment could make me infertile. I don’t know who invented chemotherapy, but his efforts to iron out the flaws in his creation can only really be described as lacklustre. If he went on Dragon’s Den he’d no doubt present something revolutionary and fantastic, much like Reggae Reggae sauce, but it would probably cause eight of your toes to fall off and make the earth explode.

Apparently having a slightly below average count is of little consequence to me, but they thought I’d get a kick out of this emasculating piece of trivia anyway. They claim that the low count is “most likely” down to my illness, which reads to me as a thinly-veiled suggestion that I have rubbish testicles. However, I am reassuringly told that they have “great motility” which means that, although perhaps low in number, they are a force to be reckoned with. Much like the Spartan army.

After a load of filthy talk about injecting eggs with sperm, they tell me that, “if I desire”, I can get another sample tested after my treatment ends. This choice of words places me in a terribly awkward situation. Why have they given me the option of whether I want to go or not? Surely I now can’t return without looking like a deranged fetishist who loves nothing more than romancing himself in a hospital? As you may imagine, it’s an awkward enough social situation even when you have a very good reason to be there. I’ve never experienced such shame than when handing over my sample, avoiding all eye contact with the nurse. But when you add the extra dimension of it being a personal choice to be there I don’t think I could ever look at myself in the mirror again without feeling pure contempt and disgust for myself.

They go on to say that I have to contact them as soon as I enter a serious relationship so that they can sort out the relevant consent forms for the use of it. This begs the question, how in shitting crikey am I supposed to bring this up to the lucky lady? At what stage in a relationship is it acceptable for me to suggest that her name should be written onto my bottle of sperm? This also means that somewhere in Ninewells Hospital there will be an inevitably long and depressing record of each successive failed relationship that I have had to cancel consent for. Perhaps the sperm receptionist will also moonlight as a handy relationship councillor for me. ’Oh dear, what happened this time Jamie?’ ’Same as last time Doreen, I told her I needed her date of birth and address to fill out the form for her to mother my test tube spawn’.

In the final paragraph they inform me that I don’t have aids, which was a relief. I think that finding out that I had both cancer and aids in the same month would have been somewhat of a bitter pill to swallow. Due to my HIV negative status, my sperm has now been removed from quarantine and placed into the main storage tank. This is also a relief as I was growing concerned about its limited social options. Anyway, it was on that bombshell that the letter ended and I was left to pick over the prospect of living my life knowing I make slightly less sperm than a normal man, but it’s okay because they could have aids.

Unfortunately I had to postpone my jaunt up to Glasgow yesterday due to a number of the gang coming down with Fresher’s Flu, which could quite literally kill me. Idiots. I bet they wish they were as healthy as me. So, with my free day, I spent my time watching The Wright Stuff on Channel Five where they were discussing a Roman Catholic school refusing to give a cervical cancer immunisation to eight year old girls in the fear that it would make them sexually promiscuous in later life, as the virus that causes it is apparently sexually transmitted. I’m not fully certain I follow this logic, I’m yet to see a man get a tetanus injection and then immediately run out to stamp on as many rusty nails as he can. But even if it were to be true, is a young person being a bit of a slag really worse than a young person, like me, getting cancer? God says yes, but I’m not too sure. I’d probably give some consideration to exchanging my current position for an oversexed teenager. I suppose I can’t really comment though, because my cervix is fine.

Part Four - Hug a Hodgkin's

Cancer has quite a bad reputation. That’s a given. As far as unfavourable media coverage goes I’d suggest it couldn’t really be outdone unless Gary Glitter was photographed browsing a Qur’an in a paedophile-exclusive NHS hospital ward whilst wearing a hat with ‘I Did Princess Diana’ emblazoned in bold lettering on the front of it. However, aren’t we always taught to listen to both sides of the story before coming to a balanced conclusion, just like our national media outlets? Could it be that cancer has been unfairly represented since the dawn of time? Is it now finally the time for one man to stand up and defend cancer’s corner armed only with a laptop and steely determination? No, not really, is the answer to that. Cancer is quite obviously rubbish. But I’m dangerously bored and I couldn’t think of anything else to write about, so I’ll give it a whack.

First of all, it’s true to say that cancer brings out an unprecedented level of kindness in people. This is an odd paradox, it’s very much like a little happiness fairy that spreads kind words and selfless acts whilst also being a massive goblin that shits all over peoples’ lives. One such act of kindness was displayed by the nice people at Perth Concert Hall. My mother phoned them up around this time last month enquiring as to whether there were still tickets to see Dylan Moran and, unfortunately, there were not. This is where having cancer can become a towering advantage over you healthy idiots, the c-word had barely left her mouth and she was in the possession of two front-row VIP hospitality tickets. The only thing that worries me slightly about this is that I could be expected to meet him before the show, much like a crippled child at a McFly concert. This worries me because, first of all, they’ll probably think I’m lying because I look perfectly healthy. They’ll surely be expecting a bald, skeletal husk of a man on his big day out from hospital. Also, I have literally nothing to say to him. It would be an altogether embarrassing episode for both of us, with our awkward smiles probably being immortalised in film by the photographers of the Perthshire Advertiser under some form of heart-warming headline - ‘Cancer Patient Meets Idol’. I don’t even like him that much. Anyway, this act of generosity did sinisterly open my eyes to ways in which cancer could be advantageous but, in the words of Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. It must only be used when all other possible avenues have been covered, or I can’t be bothered waiting in a line or something. I’m just hoping old man McCartney announces his tour before the bastards at the hospital cure me, thus stealing my magical powers.

Another thing that enters my head when considering the benefits of cancer is quite literally that, the financial benefits. My initial estimate of £150 a week unfortunately turned out to be a bit enthusiastic, I’m actually receiving a third of this amount. I don’t care too much about this, with my meagre weekly alcohol limit I have very little to spend money on, but there is one annoying aspect to it. I was told I could receive two types of benefit, one being income support and another being incapacity benefit. Predictably, I was refused the incapacity benefit meaning I’ll just have income support on my permanent government record with no indication that this was a medical necessity. I’ll just look like a massive lazy idiot who took a year out of Uni to have a laugh at the expense of the taxpayer. On top of this, it also ruined my extensive plans to spend incapacity benefits in a number of ironic ways - my first purchase was going to be a Nintendo Wii complete with an elaborate dance mat system, but this is now merely a pipe dream. It’s safe to say that this is yet another example of our country truly going to the dogs. What is it coming to when a man who’s never paid a single penny towards taxes can’t get a free Nintendo Wii from the government, complete with dance mat accessory? There is no doubt that the money I would have been getting will be spent on tap dancing lessons for asylum seekers, no doubt whatsoever. However, the income support will help towards reducing my spectacular overdraft from last year whilst also saving me from the perils of becoming a 15 year old boy again. There would have been few less enjoyable things throughout this entire ordeal than having to ask my mother for money any time I wanted to indulge in a Midouri and lemonade.

On top of such materialistic advantages, I’m also experiencing an exponential growth in my popularity at the moment. A quick overview can be given through the fact that, according to my bill, I sent 1372 texts last month. Admittedly though, half of this amount is probably down to my tedious insistence upon using full punctuation and spelling in each and every text I send. But 934 people have now viewed my Bebo page in the month and a half since I was diagnosed, breaking all previous records by about 300%. I don’t think it would be too much of an exaggeration to say that I’m the local area’s biggest celebrity since Frankie Poullain of The Darkness. As word continues to spread, many people who slipped off of my radar many years ago have got in touch. Some cynics may say this is just to feed off of my new found fame, but it’s been nice to hear from such people.

So there you have it, if you get cancer you become popular and get free money and stuff. It’s almost the perfect lifestyle choice. Following on from last week’s blasphemous entry, I think a post defending cancer was just the thing that this ever-expanding series needed to give it back its family-friendly vibe. Tune in next week to find out why I think Nelson Mandela should be hanged. Incidentally, I’m going to be making my homecoming to Glasgow during the week at some point. Let me know if you want to witness the spectacle of a man callously ignoring medical advice with potentially spectacular results.

I should point out that that was a joke before someone grasses me up to my mum.

Part Three - Reactions


People react in several different ways when you tell them you have a form of cancer. Most people react in a tactful manner along with a nice message of support and sympathy. Some people react with a certain amount of shock that a man at the peak of physical fitness like me is not, in fact, invincible. Some people, mostly annoying idiots, react by becoming upset. Some people react by laughing due to my oft-controversial humour in the past leading them to think that I’m joking - but this reaction is often followed by guilt. However, the worst people by far are the people who think that the single thing that I need most in this troubling time is the power of prayer. It’s true to say that there are few graver dangers that cancer patients face than the prospect of becoming a born-again Christian.

Christians always try to get at people when they’re down. If they’re not hassling cancer patients like myself they’re after the homeless, people that are just released from prison or recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. This is why the Vatican are in direct competition with the makers of The Jeremy Kyle Show. Viewers of the show will be familiar with Kyle’s catchphrase ‘wear a condom!‘ which he frequently screams at teenage parents. This is not, however, the handy family planning advice that it appears to be - it is an involuntary outburst of defiance against his main rival, the Catholic Church.

Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe that everyone should have the right to believe in and practice whatever religion they choose to follow whether it be Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and all those other things I haven’t given a second thought to since compulsory Religious Education in second year. However, a few people have told me that they’ve been praying specifically for me in church I don‘t quite know what to make of this. While I really do appreciate any form of well-wishing, this created visions of a giant picture of my smiling face at the front of the church being doused with holy water whilst a bearded man in a colourful jumper sings songs about me accompanied by his acoustic guitar, which would most likely be plastered with ‘Jesus Rocks!’ stickers. My second name rhymes with cross, the song pretty much writes itself.

I’ve thought a bit about this - I have a fair amount of time on my hands - and there appears to be only one beneficiary of this act, namely God himself. I’m either going to make a full recovery or, by an incredibly unlikely and unprecedented stroke of bad luck, not. In one of these cases people will believe that God has graciously come to my aid and sing his praises and, in the other, God has ignored the prayers and has mercilessly let me perish in which case everyone will congregate and sing loads of hymns. Now is it just me, or is skulduggery afoot? It appears that this sly God character has placed himself in a win win situation and it doesn‘t seem right. Would Gordon Strachan be universally praised if Celtic had the most disastrous season in their history? Would your work throw you a wicked party to celebrate your contribution to the business if you were literally the worst employee in the world? No, infact I requested this after my 9 hour stint at the Green Hotel and they refused - specifically on the grounds that I was the worst employee in the world. Perhaps Christians should employ some sort of God evaluation system so this loophole can not be sinisterly abused again. This would certainly be one of my first actions as Pope, just behind introducing a better hat.

Having just read over this, I’m now a bit scared that I’m being too controversial. Within hours I’ll probably be at the centre of my own ‘Bigger Than Jesus’ fiasco with local children running out onto the streets to burn hard copies of my blogs. I also feel a bit bad for chastising some men who were essentially just trying to help me in the way that they thought was best, but it would have been rubbish if I had just written that. However, I’d like to assure you all that I really do appreciate your phone calls, texts and suchlike that you’ve sent over the past month or so. You’ve all been stars. Except Niall Anderson, who’s first reaction was to say “So, you going to die or what?” - shun this beast.

Obligatory medical update to finish - I’m now a quarter of the way through treatment, dose three of twelve, and I’m beginning to run out of superlatives regarding quite how surprisingly easy it all is. I’d say something outrageous like all other cancer patients are just attention seekers, but the truth is that I’ve been very lucky with the relatively innocuous nature of my condition and, consequently, the required strength of my treatment. If you’re going to get a cancer I can certainly recommend this one. However, I did have my first little hiccup this week when my jaw swelled up due to a slight infection but, after a few days of looking like a cartoon super-hero, antibiotics sorted that out. The only thing is that I now have a gel that I have to apply to my gums each night, which at the moment are so tender that I have no choice but to use a soft toothbrush designed for three to six year olds which is garishly decorated with glow in the dark pirates. Each time I use it I feel like a small part of my dignity dies forever. Still, I mustn’t grumble. My hair can still only be described as fabulous.

See you next time cancer fans.

Part Two - Hair

An update: cancer isn’t as funny as I had first thought. Don‘t panic, I’m still feeling perfectly healthy, experiencing minimal side effects and responding well to treatment. Infact, I’d go as far to say that I’m brilliant at cancer. However, an event took place today that has suddenly turned this battle from a bit of an annoyance into a fury-filled grudge match. Yes, a few hours ago, I found five stray hairs on my t-shirt. Cancer has crossed the line.

When you’re diagnosed, you do wonder why this has happened to you when there are clearly millions of worse people in the world. Some people may say that this balance was addressed with Jade Goody‘s diagnosis, but this is definitely something that I, myself, would never suggest. This is firstly because that would be a bit cruel, even if she is a bit of a daft racist, and secondly because I feel I now have to whore myself out at any available opportunity for positive karma points. The idea of karma entered my head when I was reading the infinite list of possible side effects of treatment and I saw ‘complete or partial hair loss’ casually tossed in amongst less significant things such as heart failure or permanent lung damage.

Any person that has ever given me so much as a fleeting glance will realise that this is the single worst thing that could possibly ever happen to me. I’ve never made a secret of my vanity, I’ve kindly shared my vast knowledge of the hairspray world with girls in need of help and I often used to spend mornings persuading my Mum to write me a sick note for the previous day of school because I was having a bad hair day and refused to go in. However, now it appears that such callous actions and decisions have blown up in my face in the form of karma induced hair loss. Of course, some doctors may tell you that it’s down to a drug called doxorubican slowly but surely inhibiting the division of hair cells, but they’d say anything to sound like they know something that a common man does not. It’s almost definitely karma pixies pulling it out strand by strand with maniacal glee, teaching me tiny lesson after tiny lesson.

My nurse has said that it would be incredibly unusual for me to lose my hair completely, but I should be ‘prepared for some thinning‘. I’m not quite sure what she meant by this vague statement, it pretty much includes anything from losing a few strands to having one solitary hair left which would no doubt be comically placed in the very centre of my scalp. However, the worst possibility by far is somewhere inbetween these two. My last thought every night before I fall asleep is that I could wake up looking like Hulk Hogan. Luckily, whatever I do lose will grow back after treatment ends but I’ve been told that it could be a different colour and ‘more curly’. This immediately conjures up images of me slowly morphing into Ronald McDonald, and this displeases me. The nursing staff don’t quite understand why my hair is so important either, stupidly thinking I’d be more concerned with overcoming cancer than whether I look sexy on the ward. Who knows who I could meet? A woman under 93 has to enter the haematology unit at some point, and when that day comes I will be prepared to pounce.

Actually, on the subject of old people, they’re bitter bastards aren’t they? Especially the ones with terminal diseases. A few weeks ago I bounced into the ward to get a blood test done and a really old man that I had initially mistaken for an empty sack made of wrinkled leather piped up. Obviously furious about my youthful optimism and chipper nature, he took one look at me and without so much as a good morning he said to me; “Yeah, you come in here walking but sooner or later you leave in a box.”. I was going to wave my top notch prognosis in his withered little face, but if I can bring a smile to an old man’s face by allowing him to think I’m going to die then god damn it I will. They fought for my freedom after all. It was on the day of my bone marrow biopsy in fact, a procedure he said would be fine unless I got “the Paki doctor” in which case it would be “sheer agony”. We do have some top notch banter in good old ward two.

Anyway, I’m over a sixth of the way through treatment now and it’s all been a piece of piss so far. I’ve discovered that you can walk around with quite a scary disease and feel no different to what you usually do. A fact that will no doubt reassure anyone who’s been diagnosed with something and terrify all of those who haven’t. I’ll strive to keep those of you that care up to date, but almost all of it is actually incredibly mundane and not worth writing about. The cycle goes ‘Hospital for an hour > Two Weeks of Football Manager > Hospital for an hour’ and so on. However, if I lose my hair I will obviously have to shun all human contact and Bebo (notice the capital Winston) will be my only way to interact with the outside world. I might have to write hourly.

Part One - Sperm

Judging by my Bebo views graph, 193 of you are now fully aware that I was diagnosed with Hodgkins’ Lymphoma earlier on this month. Delving deeper into statistics, only four of you have expressed your commiserations through a Bebo comment making me feel like somewhat of a circus sideshow that can be viewed with curiosity yet is not to be conversed with. Moreover, two of these comments came from within my family, with another one being a photoshopped image of me with no hair. So, all in all, I have been deeply moved by your support and condolences which have kept me positive in this troubling time.

Luckily for all of you heartless monsters, it’s not a terribly serious condition. One tactful medical professional told me that I had ‘the best cancer’, which I thought was somewhat of a bittersweet piece of news. Looking at various statistics however, it appears that she was correct as my condition is second only to testicular cancer in terms of cure rates but I get to stay firmly attached to my testicles so there is only one winner here.

The fact that I will remain fully endowed did not, however, prevent a wonderful trip to Ninewells Hospital Human Reproduction Unit in order to give them a sample in case of any complications. The first question that arose from this was why they felt the need to put the word ’Human’ in the title of the ward, is there a cat reproduction unit next door? The second question that arose from this trip was why the NHS can afford the extravagance of a massive wooden sculpture of a sperm in the waiting room, which I spent an entire morning sitting next to watching the Olympics, but yet they can not afford a weekly subscription to an adult magazine company. The ones that they had on offer were literally the oldest, filthiest, crustiest, dog-eared pieces of material I have ever come across. That was a lazy and grubby pun and I apologise. Anyway, the lads are all frozen up in Ninewells Hospital now, leading my Dad to hilariously suggest that I should name my first son Solero should I ever need to make use of it. However, I suspect it’s far more likely to end up as a device in a hilarious prank in years to come involving Douglas Crawford, Magners Cider and novelty ice cubes.

Another fantastic opportunity that this has provided me with was a bone marrow biopsy. Basically, this involves taking a young man who’s recently received the worst news of his life and then subjecting him to the most blindingly painful experience known to man. It’s a huge needle, a spear would probably be a more appropriate term, which they push into your pelvis bone and then suck up marrowy goodness. I was told beforehand that the procedure created roughly the same level of pain as getting a tooth out, this could only be true if your tooth was removed by Satan himself driving a car made of nails into your face. It was horrific. It took every effort not to jump up and punch the nurse right in the face for doing this to me whilst trying to make small talk regarding my university career. The conversation basically consisted of her asking me what I studied, and then me screaming really loudly for roughly seven minutes. Banter.

Anyway, I kicked off chemotherapy last week which isn’t really as dramatic as it sounds. It roughly involves going to hospital once every two weeks, sitting with loads of old people, getting a drip for an hour and trying to politely decline the plate of biscuits which are almost definitely pure MRSA. I’ve not even been sick or anything, it’s been a total anti-climax. I’ll be sure to give you all frequent updates so you don’t worry about me seeing as you‘ve been so concerned so far, but if I don’t write for a while you mustn’t assume something’s gone terribly wrong. I’m far more likely just to be giving it laldy on my £150 a week of benefits. Cashback.