Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Part 27 - Here Comes The Sun (© Jamie Ross)

I’m not an angry man. In fact, I’m so cowardly, weak and placid that my bottled up rage will almost definitely one day manifest itself through me rampaging around the streets of Kinross, naked besides a blood red bandana, maniacally thrashing around with a crude homemade machete - possibly screaming and weeping about the time that Jamie Webb stole my Golden Charizard card in primary three. Today was so very nearly that day.

As I mentioned in my last entry, this blog was featured in The Independent on Monday. It was a very easy process, I was asked to choose five or six of my favourite entries, edit them down into a 3000 word article and have it ready by the weekend. Monday came, the article looked good, I had an obscene amount of hits on the blog and my Twitter army of cancer fans reached an astronomical 143. That may not sound like much, but ask yourself how many Twitter followers Stephen Fry had when he was 20. I’m not saying that this makes me better than Stephen Fry, but that is exactly what I’m secretly thinking.

As the day went on, many nice people got in touch to say that they enjoyed the article or wished me luck for my scan next month. Not everyone thought this was necessary which is probably just aswell, I don’t want to end up berating anyone who attempts to contact me like Ringo Starr, but there is one group of people who I would have appreciated a quick note from - namely the entire features team of The Scottish Sun. Apparently, they loved the article so much that they decided to publish 2000 heavily-edited and copyrighted words of mine in a double-page feature, complete with photographs of me that I’d never seen before. This was without asking me, notifying me, paying me, or consulting me. In fact, the first I heard of it was when someone texted my Dad this morning.

In any media coverage of this blog, I’ve painstakingly made sure that it’s been presented for what it is - an attempt at comedy writing about a situation I happen to find myself in. This isn‘t what The Sun decided this was about, though. Apparently, these thirty-thousand words are just one massive faltering cover-up which helps me pretend to the world that I don’t spend my entire current life perilously close to drowning in my own tears.

They led with the stomach-turning headline of ‘Blog of Courage’ and tediously droned on about what a “brave teen” I am. I’m astonished that it didn't come with a huge cut-outable photo of my smiling, pale face for housewives across the country to hold their shriekingly oversentimental candlelit vigils next to - most likely with ‘Kinross Princess’ emblazoned in massive lettering across it. There seems to be some insane belief amongst idiot headline writers that having cancer instantly makes you brave. It doesn’t. It makes you bald, podgy, ill and bored - ‘Blog of Sheer Tedium’ would have been a far more appropriate headline. I had to wake up my Mum at 4am last week specifically so she could remove a below-average sized spider from my room - that‘s your sodding megahero, The Sun.

It’s not just the sheer, horrific tweeness of the article that makes it amongst the worst things ever to happen to me either:

They edited it to within an inch of its life, as if they were hell-bent on whittling it down to the twenty least entertaining and most disjointed words of each blog. It makes me look like an utterly abysmal writer who got in the paper thanks to a dying wish foundation scheme.

They put words such as “MOCKED”, “FORCE” and “SILENCE” in huge emboldened letters outwith the main text, presumably for the benefit of the vast majority of Sun readers who can‘t read full sentences. They've specifically chosen words which make it sound like I’ve been living in a Nazi concentration camp for the past seven months. I may have used these words at some point but, if they really had to summarise seven months of weekly entries in three words, I'd have suggested “TESTICLE”, “BALLS” and “COCK”.

They inexplicably used a picture I had never seen in which my eyes are closed. They used a family photograph which I only allowed to be used in The Independent. They made me inadvertently write in the fucking Sun, effectively destroying all the good work that‘s gone into my writing CV recently. All of this, need I repeat, without asking me, notifying me, paying me or consulting me.

Since sending them a massive, furious and pretentious email whining at them to "respect my artistic merit" (piss off, I was angry) they’ve come to the conclusion that stealing the copyrighted life’s work of a 20-year-old cancer patient isn’t really the coolest thing to do. They’ve offered me a fee, although it’s far smaller than the one I got for The Independent despite the fact that it‘s almost exactly the same content, albeit terribly edited. Apparently, this is because “it’s already been in The Independent” - as if it were I who had forced these dreadful people to spit out 2000 of my words in their gutter paper, seemingly in an entirely random order. What an awful bastard I am.

Well, The Sun, lest ye forget that I have a full 143 Twitter followers.

Minions - unleash hell.

I did have the link to the article here but it's since been hastily removed from their website due to an increased realisation that what they did was both twatty and illegal. If you want to voice displeasure about it you could get in touch with David Dinsmore, the editor of the Scottish Sun. You can get his email address and follow developments of this at http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2009/04/david_dinsmore.asp.

I also linked this specific blog entry in a comment at the bottom of the Sun article under the cunning guise of 'Jamie_Brave_ Ross' which was swiftly removed. It's my sodding story!

Anyway, here's the lovely, authorised Independent article.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Part 26 - Glasgow Shame

I told you, didn’t I? I told you nothing interesting whatsoever would happen to me in-between my scans. Recently, if I’ve not been describing my life in obscenely dull detail to 91 strangers on Twitter, I’ve simply been living my life in obscenely dull detail. Even now, having exceeded my usual 140 characters, I feel perilously out of my depth. However, I thought it was about time I wrote in here before some other sarcastic young man gets diagnosed with cancer and actually has something interesting to write about - the lucky ill bastard.

Return To Glasgow

Last week, I finally returned to the hallowed turf which probably caused me to get so spectacularly ill in the first place. After ten entire months away from it, the first thing that struck me was that it smells absolutely grotesque as soon as you get within about five miles of the place. It was horrendous, and it made me feel like some form of naive country bumpkin travelling to the metropolis of a smoggy Dickensian London for the first time except, instead of learning how to be a gentleman, I was there to relearn how to be a depraved idiot student.

That was a top-class literary reference.

After getting disproportionately drunk on about a third of a pint, it was decided that it would be a fantastic idea to go to the casino. Sounds quite exciting, doesn’t it? The word ’casino’ might induce heady images of bright lights, scantily-clad showgirls, elaborate cocktails and thousands of James Bondesque men rolling around laughing, showering in coins and happiness. However, this particular casino was essentially a run-down pub, seemingly unchanged since 1973, with two angry-looking men standing next to a roulette table. On top of this, they told me to remove my hat at the entrance so they could take a photograph as a form of ID. Looking back, it might have been fun to have broken down and screamed something highly acidic at her to ruin her week, but instead I just put on a big, sad face and quietly informed her of my situation.

Having won enough money to splash out on a taxi to the West End, a few more drinks were consumed and we skipped off to the hall where we were going to see semi-famous comedian Richard Herring. About fifteen minutes into his show, Richard Herring spotted a fly in his drink and pointed this out to his sea of adoring fans. Allan MacDonald, former flatmate of mine, couldn’t just enjoy this observation like the rest of the crowd and decided to loudly and boldly proclaim that the fly could probably perform a more solid hour and a half of stand-up than Richard Herring. Personally, I thought this was quite a funny, jokey and inventive heckle. However, it displeased Richard Herring, plus the 500 strong crowd who greeted it with a chorus of boos and a snarled “Shut the fuck up!”.

Ashamed of Allan’s actions and feeling the sheer, unadulterated hatred of 500 people on the back of my head, I thought it would be a good idea to offer Richard Herring a drink as I was getting up to go to the bar myself. “The bar’s closed, mate.” Richard Herring astutely pointed out, causing 500 people to erupt in laughter as I shrank back into my seat. Touché Richard Herring. Feeling mildly unwelcome, we left soon after to the sound of sarcastic applause.

After I had got back, I went on to Richard Herring’s blog and found this entry whining about us:

“There were some drunker, younger guys in the second row who were a bit chatty and at one point asked me to tell a joke. I told them that that wasn't what was going to happen and that the show had been pretty funny so far, but if they couldn't concentrate on a narrative they should leave. The audience mainly seemed to be on my side. And about fifteen minutes later, after an unsuccessful attempt to get booze form the closed bar, the disruptive element left.”

Not only does this discredit the inventiveness of the heckle, it also makes me sound like the worst kind of drunken lout you could possibly imagine - as if I stood at an empty bar for twenty minutes screaming ‘Give me some booze!’ at nothing, only pausing to be intermittently sick on the floor. Yet I suppose history is written by the winners isn‘t it, Richard Stalin?

Independent Article

I’m going to be in The Independent on Monday with a few selected entries of this blog, hence this hastily written blog to inform you all, so do purchase a copy if you feel you haven’t read these entries in quite enough different formats yet. There are bound to be roughly a thousand pictures of my big, stupid face to make it a fresh experience for all.

As for the impending scan, there still isn’t a set date for it but it should be in the next few weeks , so keep your eyes open for an actual real development that doesn’t involve me making a massive tosswhump of myself in front of a 500-strong paying audience.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Part 25 - CTedium


CT results days are quite nerve-wracking. It’s a bit like exam results day, except that you can’t hide bad results from your parents as your cunning plan would unravel when you died in horrendous pain. However, I was quite looking forward to today’s results putting an end to a month of uncertainty with one of what I was told were three possible options. The first was yet more chemotherapy which would obviously be rubbish, the second was radiotherapy which would be slightly better as there’d be a small chance that I could gain super-powers and the third was getting the all-clear. Which do you think it was? Are you ready? Are you sure? The results of my scan were…

…I need another scan! After another entire month of tedium! Huzzah!

Initially, this slightly annoyed me because I assumed that they had just arsed up the first one, but I was mistaken. Apparently, of the four areas that were affected, two of them have entirely disappeared but the other two remain slightly suspicious. By that, I mean they can’t really decide whether they’re cancery or not from the information that they have, so I have to undergo a more in-depth scan to be sure - a PET scan to be precise. It’s only after this, which will take place at some point in April, that I’ll know what further treatment I need - if any.

Big Doctor G, as I obviously never call him, claimed that he was very pleased with the results that they have so far but it’s a bit of a ball-ache for three reasons:

One: PET scans don’t lend themselves to the multitude of brilliant puns that CT scans do, unless I lazily feign confusion over why they need to scan my pet.

Two: If more treatment is required, I’ll be getting it at the exact point when my hair should begin to resurrect itself. As I’ve explained before, my treatment leaves some original hair behind and new hair can be an entirely different colour. If I need more treatment, it’s quite possible that I’ll end up with a fucking ridiculous tri-coloured Neapolitan haircut that strangers will assume I specifically demanded at a hairdresser’s.

Three: How the ruddy hell am I meant to keep this blog rolling for yet another month of inactivity? I’m quite certain that, after an entire month of ‘what I had for breakfast’ blogs, not even my own parents will care when I’m eventually declared healthy.

Anyway, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. At least I can take solace in the fact that another chemotherapy-free month means I’ll continue to feel healthy enough to carry on my exercise regime. I was given a Wii Fit for my birthday last week and, although I’ve borderline crippled myself eight times in as many days, it does appear to be doing some good according to my daily weigh-ins. However, I’m not entirely sure how much to trust it. When I first weighed myself I was told that I had a BMI of 22 which led to a jubilant little voice saying, with no apparent sense of irony, “Great! People with a BMI of 22 are less likely to get sick!”. Its prematurely-balding, chemotherapy-ravaged, cancer-ridden pupil looked on with both disbelief and contempt.

I’ve taken to exercising between two and four in the morning to prevent my attempts being inhibited by self-consciousness. When everyone else is in bed I have no fear in furiously gyrating around in my living room, thrashing a pretend hula-hoop around my sweat-sodden waist with an unforgiving, steely grimace on my face until the point when I’m both physically and emotionally exhausted. Already, my female trainer, who represents my most promising romantic liaison in seven months, has remarked upon how I’m “clearly no stranger to exercise” - fact.

Anyway, apologies if you were expecting the dramatic conclusion of Cancerous Capers in this post but hopefully our journey will soon be at an end. In the meantime, look forward to ‘Bran Flakes or All Bran - The Definitive Answer’ next week.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Part 24 - A Pissing Nightmare


After five entire weeks of living like a normal person - on the assumption that normal people seldom leave their houses and sleep until 4pm - I was finally back in hospital action on Friday. The familiar battle of Dettol attempting to outstench thousands of old people greeted me at the door like an old friend. I was there for the big CT scan to judge whether I’m now available cancer-free or if I’ll be subjected to yet more treatment which, to be honest, would be a bit of a ball ache.

Before anything happens, people undergoing these scans are asked to drink a litre of an entirely disgusting liquid which they unconvincingly attempt to mask with either orange or lemon squash. I’d probably liken it to being asked to eat a bowl of human sick with one sprig of parsley placed on top of it. Personally, I always play it safe and choose the orange option rather than the lemon - what do you think I am, a madman? - but making this quite simple choice is never enough for at least one joker in the waiting room.

I’ve had this scan three times in the past six months and, upon being presented with the squash conundrum, someone has bizarrely made the exact same quip every single time I‘ve been there. Making sure everybody else in the room can hear, one person has always shouted out “Whisky please!” with a huge, self-satisfied smile on his or her face - content in the knowledge that they are almost definitely the new Billy Connolly. They laugh, the other patients laugh, the nurse laughs and I sit cross-legged reading The Guardian rolling my eyes at each and every one of them.

Anyway, this liquid. A litre is quite a lot to drink in half an hour, especially when what you’re drinking tastes like what I imagine the urine of a three-hundred-year-old stick of black liquorice would taste like, and I was forbidden from going to the toilet before the scan. As I lay down on the CT slab, literally more urine than man, I was in quite a bit of discomfort but content in the knowledge that my supple, young bladder should cope. As always, a dye was injected into my arm and the machine slowly moved me through the massive hoop much like a disabled performing dolphin.

Then something very strange happened. I started to get a disconcertingly warm sensation around my groin, despite the fact that I was 75% certain that I wasn’t urinating. What, in the name of fuck, was this? Had I finally suffered the nervous breakdown I’ve been dreading and become destined to live the rest of my life unintentionally wallowing in my own filth like a clichéd mentalist? “Are you okay, Jamie?” came a voice over the speakers. What the Christ was I supposed to say? Should I tell them what was happening? Just swagger out afterwards full of Bond-like confidence, walking away from a massive puddle pretending it never happened? ‘Eh…yeh’ I sheepishly replied, secretly thinking ‘No, I’ve just pissed all over both myself and your multi-million pound machine, soz!’.

I was in an entire panic. To my knowledge, I hadn’t done anything like this since story time in primary school when I managed to frame an unwitting stooge next to me - but I was in this room alone. I was entirely stranded, unable to move or do anything but lie there festering in my shame and wait for the nurses to come in and discover me. ‘This can’t possibly be happening’ I thought, ‘this is literally the single worst thing that I could possibly imagine ever happening to anyone‘. Three nurses charged in and I braced myself for their sudden, disgusted realisation. I was on the verge of tears as I desperately scanned my mind for any way I could possibly explain my horrid behaviour. ‘Okay Jamie, that’s you finished!’ came a cheery voice…I was uncertain as to whether she meant my scan had ended or my massive wazz.

However, I slowly got up and inconspicuously brushed my hand down the front of the flowery hospital gown. It was dry as a bone, there was no puddle where I had been lying down and my bladder was still painfully full. Was it all an awful dream? Had it all been some terrible, self-inflicted Derren Brownesque trick? Was there a heater on the CT table pointed directly at my genitalia? I left the room confused and on the verge of a heart attack but, most importantly, not covered in my own urine.

I’ve since researched this and, apparently, the dye that’s put into your arm can give you a warm sensation during the scan. Perhaps they could have explained this to me before I gave suicide serious consideration to prevent me having to face up to the repercussions of my urine-soaked carcass.

Anyway, it’s the big results day on Thursday. Stay tuned.