Updated: Sep 29, 2020
When I was first diagnosed with bowel cancer, my world changed. Instantly and irrevocably changed. In a daze I drove home from RCH Treliske. That evening I decided that this wasn't the sort of thing that I wanted to keep private. Those of you that have known me for some time will know I’m happy to talk about the one subject on which I’m an authority, me.
Just to add clarity to the situation, sometimes throughout these posts feel free to freely interchange I for us or we, my for our, mine for ours, and so on as you see fit.
So I/we set about letting those most important to me know the situation. First, and by far the most difficult, our girls, then my 4 brothers. Tricia spoke to both her sisters and from then the news percolated down through the families. Tricia’s parents deserved a visit as did my dad. My dad however deserved some very careful thought. He was 89 and because of his failing health we had recently returned from our annual trip to southern France early. (I remember spending the day at the Lascaux Caves, my brother Richard called with the news that he didn't think dad had much time left. That evening we had planned to eat out. During the meal we took the decision to head on home early). I sat with dad and told him my news. He was devastated, I really can’t imagine what he must have thought. I told him it was found so early that a simple operation will fix me up, no problem. He was pleased to know I wasn’t in any danger. He didn’t live long enough to know any different.
I also needed to tell my colleagues at the Eden Project. Interesting how they took the news. I think all were shocked, a couple, who were over 60 and had ignored the bowel cancer screening kit went straight to their surgery to sort it out. But, oddly, two of my colleagues, tried, and patently failed, to justify their reasons for not doing the test. In my head there’s a word for people like that. Morons.
Anyway back to the process of telling people. At Eden I needed to inform the management. I was about to take a considerable amount of time off sick. I did so, they were really good to me.
What struck me was how people receive this kind of news. I know we all have strategies that enable us to deal with bad news but I’m still amused by some reactions. One, for instance said “Who told you that?” as if some bloke down the pub had been peering up my bum. I realised then that I just need to be tolerant of people's ability to put their foot in their mouths. Lots of “Oh,....you'll be alright” and more recently “You’ve beaten it before, you’ll beat it again" I wish and I wish. But one that takes the biscuit was. “How old are you?” 60. “Well, you’ve had a good life, you’ve done lots of things" I thought FFS. But just lately I’ve got to thinking I have done lots of things which in turn has provided me with lots of stories. And lots of stories means plenty of material for these posts.
All of the above was about the first time I joined this peculiar cancer circus. I thought I'd run away from that circus but, alas, that’s not the case.
I’ve yet to tell you much about the motorbikes and the motorhome, the 4x4s and the French house, the pizza oven and the pub, the dogs and the ducks. A myriad of moments that you may get regaled with yet. But in the meantime try not to say “Its OK, you’ll have plenty of time” because, put simply,
I may not!