Saturday, 31 January 2009

Part 20 - Chemover and Out

Here’s the result of me being asked to write something ‘more serious’ for The Scotsman on Friday, and yet I still manage to shoe-horn the word ‘twat’ into the second sentence:

In my mundane life, weeks rarely get as exciting as this one. Not only have I had some of my writing published for the very first time, I‘ve also finally come to the end of six gruelling months of chemotherapy and, even better, I managed to get the word ‘twat’ in a national newspaper and nobody noticed.

When something as major as this takes place in your life - I’m now talking about ending chemotherapy rather than writing rude words in a newspaper - it is an ideal time to reflect on your experiences, to look to the future, and to get ludicrously drunk in celebration. I’ve found these things to be especially true in my case, as I’ve had to look over and edit six months of memories to present to you this week, complete my reapplication to university and, quite simply, drunk loads.

What I found most stark about looking over the blogs was my insistence in the earlier entries that not much was really wrong with me. If only I could warn that idiot young man of what awaited him for the next six months. Whilst I realise that my condition is relatively innocuous on the grand scale of cancer, being housebound with constant infections, nausea and debilitating fatigue is not an ideal way to spend half a year of your youth.

I’ve heard it claimed in the past that ‘cancer is a gift’ - it isn’t. A big lovely cake, that’s a gift. A tiny, fluffy, huggable kitten, that’s a gift. Catching a disease which could quite easily kill you when you’re nineteen or, at the very least, make you relentlessly vomit for six months is not a gift. Let’s just be grateful that the people who claim this haven’t applied for the post of Father Christmas at your local shopping centre.

However, having said that, it’s not all been negative. For example, it’s given me the opportunity to write in a national newspaper, reassured me that the NHS is the single greatest thing about this country despite what permanently-angry idiots who have to wait for an hour to get their broken finger looked at might think and I believe that it will make me far more appreciative of everyday, dull, yet healthy life. Also, I’ve built up quite the collection of snazzy hats.

However, the experience, whether positive or negative, is not one I’m in any hurry to repeat. I will get my latest scan results mid-February, and the hope is that it will show that all signs of cancer have vanished. This would result in in my slow rehabilitation to both normal health and normal life, climaxing in getting cathartically drunk with my friends in Glasgow who I haven’t been able to see in almost nine months. An occasion which will, no doubt, turn out to be embarrassingly emotional considering I have a tendency to declare my love to even the very weirdest of odd, sweaty strangers in the euphoric haze of Glasgow nightclubs.

However, although my treatment ended on Wednesday, this is not necessarily ‘the end’. My scan results could easily show that some cancer is still lingering and, if so, I’ll be fired right back onto a further two months of chemotherapy, or introduced to the exciting world of radiotherapy. What worries me about this is that my voice is already what I’d describe as seductively deep, and neck radiotherapy is known to meddle with this. I could easily end up speaking like a ceaseless Bruce Willis film voiceover. But, for now, it’s just a matter of impatiently waiting on the results and appreciating what will, at least, be a short holiday from cancer treatments.

If I could offer any advice to anyone currently facing serious health issues, in my vast nineteen-year-old wisdom, it would just be to stick to normality the best that you can. Don’t allow an illness to define you, if you keep doing as much of what you would usually do and enjoy doing that you can then staying positive will easily follow and your experience will be far more tolerable.

But, if you ever feel down, you could always log on to my next hilarious blog series after Cancerous Capers comes to its tedious conclusion - Healthy Hijinks, Recovery Riot or another clever alliterative name. In fact, if my all-clear celebrations in Glasgow go to plan, just come and find me at Alcoholics Anonymous.


I am inconsolable today. What’s the point in living if you can’t wake up and laugh at words that you’ve exclusively written yourself in a national publication? Anyway, many thanks to anyone who bought a copy, got in touch via email or selected it as an ideal time to criticise my appearance. I’d like to make clear that I didn’t actually perform any of those frankly embarrassing poses on purpose, that is quite literally how I sit almost all of the time and is, perhaps, due a rethink.

Anyway, back to this demeaning virtual nonsense now. Not even on sodding paper…

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