For World Cancer Day I wrote a letter to my cancer - watch it or read it here.

Dear Cancer 4th February 2017

I didn’t take you seriously at first. You were uninvited and unwelcome but, like anything in the bowel, I didn’t expect you to be around for long.

As we became better acquainted, you introduced me to new people and experiences; drugs that changed my cellular being, machines that peered inside and burnt away parts of me, doctors and nurses who prodded and probed and made me speak of personal details I never imagined I’d share.

You were so demanding. I don’t think you expected us to be together for so long. You imagined one of us would have to give up on such a sick relationship, didn’t you? You were persistent. But so was I. Our relationship was long term.

You always demanded to be centre stage; you basked in the attention. You made me sad, angry, frustrated, worried, frightened, dependent, nauseous and sick. I hated you. For a while I felt helpless, like an abused spouse. At times you took away my pride. You craved control and recognition. You gave me a life I neither understood nor wanted.

Eventually our relationship began to change. It turns out I was stronger than you thought. Slowly, scan by scan, you faded until now you have almost disappeared. You skulk in the wings as I stand in the spotlight. You watch, but you have no lines. Memories of you lurk in dark corners but slowly slowly I am letting you go.

I think it will surprise you to hear that there are some things I want to thank you for. If you hadn’t stayed around for as long as you did I would never have discovered my own inner strength and resilience. I came to appreciate my life in whatever form it took. I found a new peace; you taught patience to an impatient man. You turned my life upside down but I embraced the challenge. You didn’t expect that, did you?

Turns out I’m one of the lucky ones. Only 10% survive with my prognosis. I am so pleased you kept that statistic to yourself. Knowing it would have scared me and given you the upper hand. But I always had something you couldn’t touch. I remember after you tried to take control of my liver I wrote the word ‘Hope’ in the sand on a deserted beach. The sea washed it away but it remained in my heart and gave me strength in the dark days when you seemed stronger than I. You had my bowel, my liver and my lungs but you couldn’t take away my hope.

Hope is the most powerful of all small words. Today, on World Cancer Day, I know I am a lucky human being. Why did I get so lucky? I have no idea. I have a small life, like most people. But it is, and always was, a life with hope. So you, cancer, will never be able to destroy our hope - hope that people will survive, hope that those living with you will be as comfortable as they can be, and hope that one day you, you poisonous intruder, will be eradicated from our lives. Eventually, you and I both know, there will be no place for you.


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