Life's Roller Coaster

If I'm missing, or not taking messages sorry – I'm more angry about letting my friends down than YOU will ever be at being let down! Unfortunately that is sometimes a side effect of Cancer! Mea Culpa: may I blame being short fused & grumpy on it too! My first symptoms presented in Nov-1998 – Follow The Trail on >DIARY of CANCER< Immediately Below!

> GUEST POST: Clarissa Tan: ‘The Ideal Death Show’

> GUEST POST: Clarissa Tan: ‘The Ideal Death Show’
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The ideal death show

4 Comments 14 September 2013
Funeral_172862705

I am in a yurt, talking about death. Everyone is seated in a circle, and I am the next-to-last person to share. The last of the summer sun is shining through the entrance. At one end is a display coffin of biodegradable willow — there’s also tea and coffee, and coffin-shaped biscuits with skeleton-shaped icing.

‘I am a reporter,’ I say. ‘I’ve come to cover this event. But don’t worry, I won’t report what you share in this yurt. Also, I have cancer. I have been in treatment for one year, but now the treatment is over. I take one day at a time.’

There is silence, then hugs. I thought I would cry, but I don’t. Instead, I feel acceptance and a strange kernel of satisfaction. For the rest of my time here I am Death Girl, shrouded in drama.

The yurt is on the grounds of a beachfront hotel in Bournemouth. I am attending the Good Funeral Awards, meant to honour the best in the business. Running up to the awards dinner there are a series of activities such as the ‘death cafe’ I am participating in, where people mingle to mull mortality. Death cafes are now taking place all over the world, as Mark Mason has written in this magazine, but the weekend also will feature a number of speakers on subjects such as the use of LSD in the care of the terminally ill, memorial tattoos and what to wear for your final journey. An award will go to the embalmer of the year — a miniature coffin in the style of an Oscar.

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I arrived expecting a weekend of black comedy. This is what I find, but there’s something else — a sincerity and straightforwardness that takes me by surprise. Many of the attendees are involved in the death business, as coffin makers and corpse tailors and funeral celebrants, because they feel our society does not pay enough attention to death. We avoid it, plaster over it, try to pretty it up and Botox it out of existence.

Even old age is taboo. As we all live longer and longer, so our actors and actresses, politicians and pop stars get younger every decade.

‘Why do we do this, when death is something that happens to all of us?’ lamented one woman.

Why, indeed? I’d done it too, until I discovered my illness. Then I thought of little else — about the fragility of life, the permanence of death. Friends sent me amulets, prayers, ginseng, ‘positive energy’. My heart opened, and something flooded in. What if death were not disconnection, but connection? What if we were just going to meet our Maker? Then death would not be severance, but reunion. It is not at all a fashionable point of view, but I believe in God — and a good one, at that. The belief fills me with healing, wonderful hope. It is the hope not that I will live. It is the hope that I am loved.

The awards dinner is actually a happy affair. The great and good of the funeral industry quaff champagne and exchange jokes. Opposite me at my table is a woman who runs a funeral company. She is flanked by her husband, who also manages the business, and her brother, who is up for gravedigger of the year. The actress Pam St Clement, whose EastEnders character Pat Butcher died on-screen in January last year, is here to present the prizes. Everyone claps and cheers. In the midst of death, we are in life.

It’s a fine line between the two. Looking at the people around me, women in evening dress and men in black tie, it strikes me that death can be a glamorous affair. I wonder if, working with funerals and the bereaved, one can also be too attached to the idea of death, taking refuge in it. That’s another thing I’ve realised, too. Twelve months of ill health, hospitals, medicines — while they were tough, they also gave me an identity. I am a journalist and death gave me a story.

I realise that although I am frightened of dying, there’s a also a tiny part of me that’s always been scared of living. The finality of death is hard. The uncertainties of life can be harder.

After the dinner, the winners and losers of the Good Funeral Awards get up to dance. I peek into the ballroom bespeckled with lights. What will they play? ‘Born to Die’? ‘Forever Young’? Perhaps ‘I Will Survive’? Or ‘Stayin’ Alive’? I decide I’ll take a cab back to my bed-and-breakfast and watch Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow on telly. Perhaps this is not the time for me to dance with death.

To view the original of this article CLICK HERE

Clarissa Tan was a staff writer at The Spectator. She was the 2007 winner of our Shiva Naipaul Prize for unconventional travel writing. She passed away on 31 March 2014.

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated  

Many more articles regarding her cancer can be found on this blog & at The Spectator & then use the search facility.

.
Regards,
Greg_L-W.
.
 Please Be Sure To
& Link to my My Blogs
To Spread The Facts World Wide To Give Others HOPE
I Have Been Fighting Cancer since 1997 & I’M STILL HERE!
I Have Cancer, Cancer Does NOT Have Me
I just want to say sorry for copping out at times and leaving Lee and friends to cope!
Any help and support YOU can give her will be hugely welcome.
I do make a lousy patient!

.
If YOU want to follow my fight against Cancer from when it started and I first presented with symptoms in 1998 see The TAB at the Header of this Blog. called >DIARY of Cancer ….< just click and it will give you a long list of the main events in chronological order, many linked to specific blog postings.
.
Thoughts, articles and comments will be in chronological order in the main blog and can be tracked in the >ARCHIVE< in the Left Sidebar.
.
You may find the TABS >MEDICAL LINKS< and also >CANCER LINKS< of help, also many of the links in articles and >HOT LINKS< in the Sidebar.
.
YOU are welcome to call me, minded that I am NOT medically trained, if you believe I can help in ANY way. .

Posted by: Greg Lance-Watkins

tel: 01594 – 528 337
Accuracy & Copyright Statement: CLICK HERE
Summary, archive, facts & comments on UKIP: http://UKIP-vs-EUkip.com
DO MAKE USE of LINKS & >Right Side Bar< & The Top Bar >PAGES<
Also:
Details & Links: http://GregLanceWatkins.com
UKIP Its ASSOCIATES & DETAILS: CLICK HERE
Views I almost Totally Share: CLICK HERE
General Stuff archive: http://gl-w.blogspot.com
General Stuff ongoing: http://gl-w.com
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TWITTER: Greg_LW

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> GUEST POST: Clarissa Tan: ‘I am NOT my Cancer’!

> GUEST POST: Clarissa Tan: ‘I am NOT my Cancer’!
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Clarissa_Tan-80x98

I am not my cancer

Perhaps being clear-eyed about a life-threatening illness is the best way to fight it
17 Comments 20 October 2012
Clarissa Tan 1972-2014

Clarissa Tan 1972-2014

In the evenings the kidneys came. The helicopter, a bright yellow, would land on the grey cement disc, its blades chopping slower, slower, slow — stop. People in blue scurried from an opening in the building and ran towards the aircraft, hauling from it boxes and bags. These containers held hearts, lungs, livers. The organs were brought into the body of the main building then dispatched in all directions.

I could see all this from the high window of my room in Siena. I also saw spectacular Tuscan sunsets, and if it weren’t for the chunky, rounded plastic furniture in the room and the drips in my arms, I would have thought I was in a smart hotel. But I was in hospital, and though I hadn’t needed organs the doctors had given me blood — six packets of it, over as many days.

On holiday in Italy, I had suffered from dizziness and breathlessness while walking, and my friends had urged me to take a blood test. The test showed a shockingly low haemoglobin count. I was driven to the Pronto Soccorso — the Italian A&E — immediately. Over the next few days, via scans and tests, the doctors discovered a malignant tumour that was pressing on organs in my stomach and causing me to lose blood. I had — have — colon cancer.

I flew back to London as soon as I could. Further diagnosis by the NHS revealed that I also had blood clots in the lungs, quite common with cancer patients. Now I need to inject myself with blood thinner every day, while also monitoring my haemoglobin levels. Meanwhile I’m waiting for my chemotherapy to start. I am 40, a young age to get colon cancer, and because my mother had the same disease, the doctors have asked me to check with a geneticist as to whether it’s hereditary.

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What does one do when one’s world crashes during two weeks in September? Once you are discovered to have cancer, the adjective most people use for you is ‘brave’. But I do not feel brave. Cancer is something in you, inside your body, and — short of exploding in fear — there’s nothing you can do except sit with it. Yet such is the aura around cancer that all those who get it are automatically regarded as courageous victims. I am neither courageous nor a victim. I have gone through days of emotional numbness, bouts of self-pity, tumults of rage and fear. I have spent almost an hour screaming on the phone, shrieking down the line at a helpless friend. ‘I don’t want it, I don’t want it,’ I cried. Mostly, I just feel terribly sad. A part of me still can’t believe this is happening. Any minute now, the alarm clock will ring. Or perhaps I could unzip my body and step out of it with a new one.

I have found that cancer can prey on the mind even more than the body, and that this is where the real challenge lies. As the days passed and I learnt more details of my illness, suddenly the world took on a terrible turn. I would walk down a crowded street and think, ‘How happy these people are, to be cancer-free’, and my heart would sink. My universe had become a bipolar one of cancer and non-cancer. I would eat a slice of fruit and consider, ‘How many more times will I taste this?’ I would hug a dear friend and a mental trapdoor would open — how many more times, how many more times? I would look at people and things in terms of what I couldn’t and could have, and if I could, for how long?

I am sure I will still often see the world in those terms, and that it’s entirely natural to do so. Yet I am trying to separate myself from that. I am not my cancer and it does not define me. I may have to adapt the way I live, perhaps in drastic ways, given the extent of my illness. But it doesn’t reshape my universe or my consciousness. I am not saying this in a brave way, but in a matter-of-fact way. I am saying it because it’s true.

One of the strangest things about cancer is that, because it lies on the cellular level, many people with the disease, even in its advanced stages, look normal. Many patients now on the latest chemo drugs suffer few side effects and don’t lose their hair. I have become thinner and nobody would describe my complexion as ruddy, but as I queue at the local Sainsbury’s, you wouldn’t think that I had just had an appointment with my oncologist. It’s no fun self-injecting every day and always feeling anxious about my blood count, but I am not in any pain. After my return to the UK, I had to spend one night in an A&E ward as they monitored my blood clots, and during that time I was mostly untethered, free from drips or medical machines. The nurses let me wander about as I pleased. In the bed in front of me, however, was a woman admitted for alcohol poisoning who vomited throughout the night amid terrifying wails of agony. To my left was a man who emitted moans that I will never forget.

I knew that I had by far the gravest malady in that ward and — let’s face it — am probably the one closest to mortality. I knew their conditions were acute while mine is chronic. Yet I was struck by the dichotomy between the panic that normally surrounds cancer, and what is actually happening at any given moment. It’s part of the semi-surreal world of having this illness.

I am supposed to ‘fight’ cancer. I do know what people mean when they say that — you must overcome the disease. Believe me, I intend to. I love life and I want much, much more of it, as many years and decades as I can. Yet I think of the nature of this disease and how, in fact — especially in the case of colon cancer, which is slow-growing — it takes years to develop. I have had cancer without knowing it. In recent months when I thought I was fatigued and could not understand why I struggled to get back on an even keel, I was already battling the sickness. Every time I got a stomach ache and attributed it purely to stress and tried to cope, I was clashing with an unknown enemy. I am intensely relieved that I have finally found out what is wrong, and can look at my condition in its true form.

Is the moment that you discover you have cancer the moment that you ‘get’ it, or the moment that you release it? I feel as though I was fighting before. I am healing now.

To view the original of this art5icle CLICK HERE

Clarissa Tan was a staff writer at The Spectator. She passed away on 31 March 2014.

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated

Many more articles regarding her cancer can be found at The Spectator & use the search facility.

.
Regards,
Greg_L-W.
.
 Please Be Sure To
& Link to my My Blogs
To Spread The Facts World Wide To Give Others HOPE
I Have Been Fighting Cancer since 1997 & I’M STILL HERE!
I Have Cancer, Cancer Does NOT Have Me
I just want to say sorry for copping out at times and leaving Lee and friends to cope!
Any help and support YOU can give her will be hugely welcome.
I do make a lousy patient!

.
If YOU want to follow my fight against Cancer from when it started and I first presented with symptoms in 1998 see The TAB at the Header of this Blog. called >DIARY of Cancer ….< just click and it will give you a long list of the main events in chronological order, many linked to specific blog postings.
.
Thoughts, articles and comments will be in chronological order in the main blog and can be tracked in the >ARCHIVE< in the Left Sidebar.
.
You may find the TABS >MEDICAL LINKS< and also >CANCER LINKS< of help, also many of the links in articles and >HOT LINKS< in the Sidebar.
.
YOU are welcome to call me, minded that I am NOT medically trained, if you believe I can help in ANY way. .

Posted by: Greg Lance-Watkins

tel: 01594 – 528 337
Accuracy & Copyright Statement: CLICK HERE
Summary, archive, facts & comments on UKIP: http://UKIP-vs-EUkip.com
DO MAKE USE of LINKS & >Right Side Bar< & The Top Bar >PAGES<
Also:
Details & Links: http://GregLanceWatkins.com
UKIP Its ASSOCIATES & DETAILS: CLICK HERE
Views I almost Totally Share: CLICK HERE
General Stuff archive: http://gl-w.blogspot.com
General Stuff ongoing: http://gl-w.com
Health Blog. Archive: http://GregLW.blogspot.com
Health Blog. Ongoing: http:GregLW.com

TWITTER: Greg_LW

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Liver & Colon Cancer – Robin GIBB in remission!

Liver & Colon Cancer – Robin GIBB in remission!
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In remission: Bee Gees star Robin Gibb is said to have been told by doctors that he is beating cancer

In remission: Bee Gees star Robin Gibb is said to have been told by doctors that he is beating cancer

Frail: Robin sparked alarm when he appeared on The Alan Titchmarsh Show in October, looking gaunt

Frail: Robin sparked alarm when he appeared on The Alan Titchmarsh Show in October, looking gaunt

‘I’m in remission!’ Bee Gees star Robin Gibb’s delight as doctors tell him he’s beating cancer

Last updated at 1:25 AM on 4th March 2012
Robin Gibb is in remission after being told by doctors he is beating both liver and colon cancer, it has been reported.
The 62-year-old singer had been taken back into hospital last month amid fears he was losing his battle against the deadly disease.
But now Robin is said to have told his delighted friends and family that he is on the road to recovery, paying tribute to his devoted wife Dwina for helping him through the difficult times.
He is quoted in the Sunday Mirror as telling a friend: ‘I could not have done it without Dwina. She has never left my side and is a wonderful person.
‘I am beating cancer and can’t wait to carry on with my work.’
Robin was first diagnosed with liver and colon cancer five months ago, causing him to cancel a string of gigs and appearances.
But he last month the singer returned to the spotlight as he joined military trio The Soldiers for the Coming Home charity concert at the London Palladium, in support of injured servicemen.
He closed the event with Bee Gees classic How Deep Is Your Love and I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You – which he recorded with The Soldiers last year in support of the Royal British Legion‘s Poppy Appeal.
'I couldn't have done it without her': Robin credited his wife Dwina for helping him through the difficult times

‘I couldn’t have done it without her’: Robin credited his wife Dwina for helping him through the difficult times
Speaking before taking the stage, he told fans he felt ‘fantastic’ and thanked them for their support.
He happily posed for photos before walking out to massive applause at the iconic London venue.
The star recently spoke out about his cancer battle, saying he had impressed doctors with his progress.
He told BBC Radio 2: ‘I’ve been treated by a brilliant doctor, and in their own words, the results have been spectacular.
On the mend: Robin at the London Palladium last month - his first performance since his diagnosis

On the mend: Robin at the London Palladium last month – his first performance since his diagnosis
Dressed up: The 62-year-old wore a brown jacket with a black turtleneck and black trousers, as well as his trademark purple-tinted glasses
‘And they said “What are you doing that we don’t know about?”‘
He joked that medics had said he must be from ‘another planet’, before adding: ‘The prognosis is that it’s almost gone and I feel fantastic.
‘Really from now on it’s just what they could describe as a “mopping-up” operation.’
Robin is also due to appear with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in April, for the premiere of his first classical composition The Titanic Requiem, to mark the centenary of the disaster.
Details of his condition first emerged in October when he was forced to cancel several concerts and charity appearances.
He also sparked alarm when he joined chat host Alan Titchmarsh the same month appearing gaunt and unwell.
The singer has had repeated health problems due to a twisted bowel, a condition that led to the death of his twin brother Maurice nine years ago, at the age of 53.
But he revealed he had been diagnosed with colon cancer which spread to the liver, but vowed to beat the disease and continued to write music.
Back in the day: Robin (left) with his late twin Maurice and brother Barry Gibb

Back in the day: Robin (left) with his late twin Maurice and brother Barry Gibb

To read the original article: CLICK HERE

 .
 Please Be Sure To
My Blogs
To Spread The Facts World Wide To Give Others HOPE
I Have Been Fighting Cancer since 1997 & I’M STILL HERE!
I Have Cancer, Cancer Does NOT Have Me
I just want to say sorry for copping out at times and leaving Lee and friends to cope!
Any help and support YOU can give her will be hugely welcome.
I do make a lousy patient!

.
If YOU want to follow my fight against Cancer from when it started and I first presented with symptoms see The TAB just below the Header of this Blog. called >DIARY of Cancer< just click and it will give you a long list of the main events in chronological order.
.
Thoughts and comments will be in chronological order in the main blog and can be tracked in the >ARCHIVE< in the Right Sidebar.

You may find the TABS >MEDICAL LINKS< and also >CANCER LINKS< of help.
.
YOU are welcome to call me if you believe I can help in ANY way.
 .

Posted by: Greg Lance-Watkins
tel: 01594 – 528 337
on: http://GregLanceWatkins.Blogspot.com 
TWITTER: Greg_LW 
Health/Cancer Blog: http://GregLW.blogspot.com 
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