Not Yet, Not Yet
I’ve been having these cataclysmic dreams about plane crashes. In one of them, Billy and I watch a plane fall out of the sky. In another, we are in the first class cabin watching through a glass cockpit as we plummet towards a brightly-lit cityscape, and I turn to Billy and say “don’t worry, the boys will be alright”.
My tumour markers started rising a month ago, and since then I’ve had scan after scan to work out what the Nuisance is up to. It now seems that my story isn’t going to have a happy ending. The cancer is back. It’s back like one of those horror movie villains you think you’ve killed, but who rises from the dead and scythes you down. Back in my colon, back in my liver, and now also in my bones. This, my friends, is it. The news you fear the most, the phone call you can’t bear to make, the words it hurts to write. For those of you not in the cancer-know (you lucky buggers), once it spreads to the bones it is pretty much incurable. You can live with it, sometimes for a long time, but once it’s got a hold on the bits of your body that make you tick, as mine has, we are talking a year or two if I’m lucky and months if I’m not. So, I return to my half-life in January. Back to chemo, and this time it’s the really baldifying one. So I expect I will die bald, which because I am nothing if not vain seems spectacularly cruel.
Despite my foreboding dreams, we weren’t expecting this. When we first got my blood results, knowing the Nuisance might be back was enough to send me to my knees and beg for this nightmare not to be starting again. But after a few days, I accommodated myself to the idea that for a time, and hopefully for a very long time, my cancer would be a chronic disease, and anyway might still be cured. I could bear periodic chemo, periodic operations, so long as they were just that: periods punctuating longer spells where the good life carried on. But then the news turned bad. And whilst I have felt since my diagnosis that I was on borrowed time, I am railing. Every fibre of my body shouts not yet, Not Yet. I find moments of peace, but there can be no accommodation with this reality.
But friends, don’t despair. I’m not going nuts, and neither is Billy. We are sad, heartbroken, desolate. For now, beyond words, though I expect to have more than enough to say come January.
And come what may, I know that there are people who love us near and far who will walk with us every step of the way.
But that is enough gloom. Right now, my Christmas tree is glinting at me and my family (briefly) resemble a John Lewis tableau. There is a muddy dog to stroke, his still-pungent farts threatening further turdy offerings under the tree. Soon, there will be festive arguments to adjudicate between the boys, and I will open my now traditional piece of unwanted electronic goods from Billy. We have our annual New Year’s holiday under huge East Anglian skies and I will let the freezing cold waves trickle over the tops of my wellies just because I can. All this goes to say that no life is pristine, and amidst the so-called perfect days there are always unexpected dog turds to be navigated, large and small. But in the same way, even the very worst days have moments of bliss if you can only appreciate them. Now there is a truth worth living by, for however long you have. Happy Christmas, everyone. And I mean it. Happy Christmas.