THE NEW NORMAL # 7 – A BLOG OF TWO HALVES

I have had a great response to my musings and ramblings on this blog and I would probably have stopped a long time ago were it not for the positive feedback and appreciation so thank you for giving me an audience to write for. One common comment is that I seem so philosophical and positive in my writings given the fact that I’ve got cancer and the diagnosis was missed over 2 years ago when the doctors had their first stab at it. My response has always been that there are people worse off than me and that gets a variety of responses but for anyone doubting my sincerity on the subject I would point them to the news over the last few weeks; children have been abducted and attacked/killed by animals (or abandoned by their parents depending on your outlook), a rare animal has been needlessly shot, a huge number of innocent and fun seeking folk have been needlessly shot dead and that rare thing, a positive politician in Jo Cox, has been brutally murdered in the street – seemingly for standing up for her fellow human beings. Throw in the general nastiness flying around because of the EU referendum, the Trumpageddon on the horizon and the continued insistence of US law makers to ignore the danger of firearms and it’s been a pretty horrible few weeks (and don’t even get me started on moron football ‘fans’ in France). Like I say, there are plenty worse off than me so I’m not going to wallow.

Now, with all that said, it’s not been entirely plain sailing, emotionally speaking. What I’ve found out through family, friends and a little internet research is that there is such a thing as a post operation crash which has to do with your body’s physiological reaction to the general anaesthetic which kicks in around 12-14 days after the operation. So I moped, I got frustrated and I snapped at my nearest and dearest (sorry, Gemma) as the novelty of being the patient wore off and the reality of not being able to dry my feet after a shower or pick up a spoon I dropped on the floor kicks in. I have a big scar which, apparently, chicks dig but I couldn’t feel less attractive right now. At various moments over the last few weeks that yellow lymph fluid has continued to leak out of my leg in a spot that looks like I’ve wet myself, I have had to hold one of my son’s nappies against my leg in the car park of Sainsbury’s (it just gets sexier doesn’t it?) and at one point I pulled some seriously odd shapes trying to put some socks on. It’s a good thing I wasn’t planning on having any more kids.

Frustration aside, however, there’s been the promising news that two new skin cancer targeting drugs have been approved by the health watchdog NICE to be made available via the NHS. This isn’t a cure and there’s no guarantee that they’ll work with me but it’s a really positive indication of the rapid progress being made in an area that directly impacts me and my family. This is work that will, in no small part, be supported by the fundraising efforts of people doing things like running 5km in pink Tutus around the seafront of Plymouth …. which brings me to today.

In a mass of pink, many of my female friends and a family member or two teamed up with a small army of children (and a few thousand strangers) to run the Cancer Research Race For Life in Plymouth, my home town. I wasn’t sure how I would feel being surrounded by all those people who had lost someone to Cancer or who were battling it personally or in support of a loved one. But when you think about it, that’s what we do every day. They might not be wearing pink T-shirts, fancy dress or a label explaining the reason they’re running but walk through any town centre, large office block or shopping mall and the chances are you’ll be queueing up behind or walking past someone who has known what it is to be touched by Cancer in one way or another.

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The Pink Ladies (and boys)

What was overwhelming, though, was that as I stood on the Hoe (look it up non-Plymouth folk) under a lead grey sky and omnipotent rain staring at this mass of smiling faces was the sheer determination of everyone. This was early on a Sunday morning in horrible weather and here were massed thousands of women and children with supportive families (and stoic dads on father’s day) dressed entirely impractically and ready to run five kilometres to raise money in order to support the continuing work of Cancer Research UK. There was no competitiveness, just a supportive environment and the only segregation was whether you considered yourself a walker, jogger or runner (or hobbler in my case but they didn’t have a banner for that). Here were rich and poor, young and old, Labour and Conservative, Northerner and Southerner, fit and…. not so fit, survivors and supporters, battlers and those who have seen the battle lost. And I think that kinda sums Cancer up for me. You can be the fittest person in the world but you can still get Cancer or you can be a couch potato and cruise through life without it even touching you. Sure, you improve your chances of avoiding it by being fitter but being rich, poor, good, bad, honest, deceitful, hard working or lazy makes absolutely no difference. The lottery of Cancer can point its oversized novelty finger at you at any stage so it’s in all of our interests to support the work of organisations like Cancer Research UK in the long run, isn’t it?

As a side note, a few hundred miles away to the north a very old friend of mine was doing his best to upstage everyone by doing an ultra-marathon – that’s 69 miles in 22 hours. Mad? Yes. Ill-advised? Probably. Wishing he had new legs right now? Absolutely. Nevertheless, this is just another example of the lengths people will go to in order to raise money to keep the research going and take us a few steps closer to the holy grail of a cure. Right now, walking to the local shop and back makes me feel like I’ve run a marathon or two so the work of all these big hearted feels overwhelmingly generous and selfless. In light of that, I’m not going to sign off with anything pithy this time, just a big thank you to all of you that ran for me and everyone else today. To Anthony in the north and to Gemma, Jake, Joe, Alfie, Roxie, Eleanor, Mel, Owen, Anna, Julie, Liz, Shelley, Jed, Marnie, Salli, Evan, Roz, Megan, Sian, Sarah, Ebony, Jen, Lara, Biddy, Bea, Lisa, and Clare in the south – you are all heroes and I thank you all.

Oh…. And you can still donate if you feel inspired, guilt tripped or generous;

For the southerners in pink, go to:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gemmajoyturner

For the, frankly, mental northerner who can’t walk anymore, go to:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Anthony-Gladdish

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