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: Fraser Nelson: ‘Clarissa Tan, 1972-2014

> GUEST POST: Fraser Nelson: ‘Clarissa Tan, 1972-2014
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Remembering Clarissa Tan, 1972-2014

"Her radiant, joyful smile so surprised me when she turned it on me, it made me laugh" - Jeremy Clarke on Clarissa Tan

“Her radiant, joyful smile so surprised me when she turned it on me, it made me laugh” – Jeremy Clarke on Clarissa Tan

Our much-loved colleague, Clarissa Tan, passed away in the early hours of this morning. We’re all stunned here at 22 Old Queen Street – she had been fighting cancer for some time, but until a few weeks ago she had very few symptoms. Now, she has gone.

I first met her seven years ago, just after she had won the Spectator’s Shiva Naipaul creative writing prize. She was living in Singapore but we kept in touch by email, and I was struck by her gorgeous use of language, her eye for a story, her ability to understand any subject – no matter how complex – and write about it with humour and insight. Even in emails, she seemed incapable of writing a sentence that didn’t put a smile on your face. She had a potent combination of a hard head and a light pen. Now and again, she’d email me from Singapore about some fact or anecdote that had caught her attention – things that she thought spoke to wider truths. She had an eye for the kind of story that makes for a good Spectator cover, and I came to rely on her quite heavily.

When I became editor, I asked her if she’d like to move to London and work with us here. She did – in stages. She enrolled for a creative writing course, which always baffled me since she could already write brilliantly. She waited until she graduated to join us full-time here at 22 Old Queen Street, working on other people’s copy and also her own ideas. On every subject imaginable. She wrote a cover story on the Asian arms race (here), our addiction to smartphones (here), a hard-hitting assessment of racism, here all alongside her regular television reviews (here). To read her pieces is to marvel at her range and style.

When diagnosed with bowel cancer (she wrote about it here, again here and about the ‘death cafés’ here), she opted to remain in Britain. London had come to feel like home for her, and she was hugely grateful for our NHS system that gave her such wonderful care from the outset. She was baffled by Brits who knock their country – she really did seem to think she’d moved to the best place in the world. She saw beauty in things we take for granted. And when she wrote about this (such as the changing of the seasons, here) it helped remind readers about the everyday beauty around them.

Clarissa also loved the Spectator as much as any of us here – and she knew that this love was reciprocated. She told me recently that she saw her colleagues as ‘a family – a large, dysfunctional family’.

I was with her on Friday, and she was her normal, joyful, optimistic self. All of her most endearing traits – her clever, funny turns of phrase, her extraordinary capacity to see the good in any situation, as well as her wry humour – were there in full. It was as if nothing was wrong with her. As I went down the stairs on the way out, she said that she’d found out that as she came from a former colony, she was entitled to vote in the European elections. Why, she wanted to know, aren’t Americans? She saw the makings of a funny Spectator article. ‘I can say that I’d like to stay alive until polling day,’ she said, looking down from the top of the stairs. ‘Voting is important. Russell Brand is wrong.’

On her desk, there is a list, headed ‘advantages of my current situation’. She had found 23 upsides. This is — was — Clarissa all over. She was defined by indefatigable optimism, humanity and love of life. As Jeremy Clarke wrote to me earlier,’her radiant, joyful smile so surprised me when she turned it on me, it made me laugh’. That was her effect on those lucky enough to have known her. The place she loved so much feels greyer, sadder and duller without her.

UPDATE: As of Tuesday morning, the six most-read stories on the Spectator website were by Clarissa. She would have been thrilled. Here they are:

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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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Health Blog. Ongoing: http:GregLW.com

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> GUEST POST: Lara Prendergast: ‘Cervical Cancer & The Young’!

> GUEST POST: Lara Prendergast: ‘Cervical Cancer & The Young’!
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Cervical cancer doesn’t discriminate, so why does the smear test?

Cancer couldn't care less about geographical boundaries

Cancer couldn’t care less about geographical boundaries

Here’s a piece of confusing medical doctrine: in England, smear tests are offered to women from the age of 25. In Scotland, it’s 20. A couple of months ago, I checked myself in for a smear test, aged 23. The receptionist was easy to convince: ‘In Scotland,’ I said, ‘the age limit is lower. I’d like to have a test done.’ She understood, and booked me in.

But when it came to the appointment, there was no convincing the nurse. I asked why there were different age limits for different parts of the UK. She had no answer. Do the women of Scotland have an increased susceptibility to cervical cancer? No, she didn’t think so. So why then? No answer. At this point, she got a little exasperated with my questions, and tried to palm me off with a chlamydia test. I left in a huff.

Age limits on tests are understandable. But given that some parts of the UK seem to think I’m at risk, and others think I’m not, I’d have thought there would be some leeway. It seems not. Friends who have reached 25 tell me they are now bombarded with letters reminding them it’s time for their test.

I wasn’t surprised to read the sad story about 19-year-old Sophie Jones, who died last week of cervical cancer. She too had been refused a smear test, because she was ‘too young to get the disease’. Her family has launched a petition to prompt parliamentary debate into lowering the age limit for cervical screening. Lowering the age limit may not be medically sound – perhaps 25 is the correct age, but it’s concerning that no one seems able to explain what’s going on with the testing ranges. Either women are at risk at 20, or they are at risk at 25. Geography shouldn’t play a part in it. It’s time for a bit more clarity on the matter; and if a parliamentary debate will catalyse that, then that’s what we should indeed push for.

To view the original of this article CLICK HERE
.
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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> GUEST POST: Clarissa Tan: ‘I am NOT my Cancer’!

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

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& Link to my My Blogs
To Spread The Facts World Wide

To Give Hope & Information

 .
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.

Inline sub2

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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