Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Goodbye Garry


Since my last scan I have been going through the motions of normal life but most of my mind is fixed on dodging cancer, as if I am on the run trying to evade an implacable enemy. I do this by considering everything I eat and drink, and even how I sit and stand, whether any elastic is sticking into me, adjusting my clothes in case they are too tight, trying not to make any wrong move, holding my breath – waiting to exhale but knowing I can’t.

At the weekend I had a very full diary - cinema, theatre, dinner party, lunch. I had a brief chat with Michael Gove in the National Portrait Gallery. I used to know him years back when he was on The Times and whether he really remembered me or not he was charming. As a result of seeing so many people I started to feel almost normal again. The anxiety began to fade but then I had the final consultation at Garry to face on Tuesday.

In the clinic I met Ann and Loretta and the nurses now looked familiar. It was nice to sit and chat, but then I had to see a doctor. I asked to see a woman as in my experience they are just so much more empathetic. This one was kindly and thoughtful, picking her words carefully. We spent some time looking at a cross section body scan scan of my insides, as if I had been cut in half and viewed from above. I saw my heart for the first time. What a bag of wonders, and the not so wonderful. "There is the poo full of air holes," said the doctor sounding fascinated. It's odd how doctors now choose to talk in nursery language.

“I want you to go away from here and forget us,” she said. That sounded good. But then we got into the longer term view. She seemed to think that the cancer would probably come back within two years. Worse, this seemed to be considered a long remission! There also seems to be a five year cut off point beyond which few people go. She did admit that no one can know what will happen. "It's so early yet in your treatment," she added. Not what I wanted to hear.

Back in the clinic Ann and I sat for a long time trying to convince ourselves that we would be among the lucky ones, bargaining with fate and statistics, reasoning that considering our blood, our scans, our treatment, we have every chance. A doctor had told her that it was 50/50 all a matter of chance – so we cling to that.


  1. Jane, as Disraeli is alleged to have said there are lies, damn lies and statistics, we should not structure our lives off of the back of stats.
    Other than that all I can say is
    a) fundamentally we are what we eat - eat well, eat healthy and avoid all that pre packed processed stuff
    b) none of us know what tomorrow may bring so live each day to the full and make it as fun and pleasurable as you can; as James Dean said "Dream as if you will live forever, live as is you will die today"
    Wishing you all the best

  2. You are very right in all you say.
    I am working on the food, and the living for today. One is harder than the other!