Monday, 6 October 2008

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.

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