Thursday, 18 June 2009

Part 31 - Radiation Revelry

I’m coming under increasingly furious pressure to update here now that radiotherapy’s finished, despite the fact that I insist that this blog would be far more effective if it came to a sudden and unexplained end. It worked for Anne Frank, she got a bloody book deal and a film made about her. The lucky cow.

Radiotherapy was a bit of a non-event after the cataclysmic consequences of chemotherapy, hence the lack of updates. Whilst chemotherapy rendered me a hideous and reclusive infection fiend for half a year, radiotherapy has just given me a hot neck and a silly voice. For the past week or so, I’ve sounded a bit like what Rod Stewart would sound like if he spent an afternoon shovelling hot gravel in to his face. I also have a perfectly square patch of luminous red skin covering exactly half of my neck which people kindly keep pointing out to me, just in case I‘m not sufficiently reminded by being in constant, searing agony. It burns with the intensity of one million suns.

I don’t fully understand what makes this happen. The actual administration of the treatment is entirely painless and discreet, just like an X-ray. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that my head was physically bolted to a gigantic machine in a cancer ward I wouldn’t know anything was happening at all. The most painful thing about the process was, without a doubt, trying to think of something different to say to the nurses every bloody day for three weeks. There are few more depressing stages of maturation than the first time you hear yourself talking about parking.

It took roughly three minutes each time, which I know for certain because I once had to endure the entire length of I Got You Babe by Sonny and Cher whilst being shot at by the death ray. These three minutes included me taking my top off each day, feeling ashamed of my skeletal torso, and being incarcerated inside my mask whilst a machine whirred around my head gradually setting my skin alight with invisible fire. It was so brief and boring that I have literally no hilarious stories from it. Each day I was willing someone to do something that would justify me decimating them with my acidic words, the bloody professional bastards.

The three weeks came and went quicker than I had feared and, if everything goes to plan, that should be the end of my cancer adventure. I won’t know for certain until I get a scan in September, three entire months away, which is either quite reassuring or absolutely outrageous negligence. It’s not quite the ‘you’re healthy, now sod off out of hospital’ that I had envisaged but apparently this is quite common. A nurse referred to it as the ‘cancer limbo’, which I thought sounded more like an event at the Special Olympics than a medical phenomenon.

In the meantime, I’ve just got to go about life as normal but my various trips out and about recently have already demonstrated that this isn’t the easiest thing to do. I’ve had to evade questions about my past year to the extent that I must sound like I’ve been caught up in a child molestation case. Not because I’m particularly ashamed of my feeble health, I just don’t think discussing it is the best way to go about being considered a hip, bohemian youth like I so desperately attempt to appear as. “What did you do to your neck?” asked a girl in a Glasgow nightclub, pointing to my scar. “Got in a fight” I protested, as she surveyed my snowmanesque arms in bafflement.

It’s also left me with absolutely nothing to write about. This has been an empire built on sand if ever there bloody was one. In thirty years time I’ll be cleaning the toilets of some local newspaper, lecturing anyone in earshot about the time that I wrote a massive feature for The Independent sounding like a deranged fantasist.

I’m going to leave this site as it is, as long as I don’t suffer a crushing relapse at some point, in the arrogant assumption that someone might want to read it one day without having to sift through years of me writing about being sick on myself in nightclubs. I’ve just set up a new blog at if you want to follow my humiliating attempts to clutch on to the coat-tails of my past glory, I’ll get round to writing in it at some point.

Anyway, thank you for reading. Unless you reached this through the article in The Sun, in which case you have brought shame upon me.

Eleven months, twelve doses of chemotherapy, fifteen doses of radiotherapy and thirty-one blogs. That was a bloody laugh, wasn’t it?