Being diagnosed with terminal cancer is a funny old thing – and I mean that in the funny peculiar, rather than funny ha-ha sense.
When I was first diagnosed someone I knew said ‘Well – Life is terminal anyway!” Which at the time felt not particularly helpful. We all know our years of life are finite, but we tend to tuck this thought away in the back of our minds. Even though anyone who has ever attended a church funeral will know that – Man born of woman has but a short time to live…… etc. – And of course that applies equally to woman born of woman. According to the internet, the current statistic for the disease says that one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetimes.
Each and every human being wakes in the morning unaware if they will see the next day, but we happily live our lives totally unconscious of this thought. And of course that is the only way to live.
But, much as I fight against it, I have found my diagnosis has changed my life – not only in the obvious ways, but in subtle ways. For a start it colours all one’s decisions. Without it one carries on as normal, but with something serious hanging over the head, like a sword Damocles, each and every decision has to be re-thought.
Before last year I had intended to travel as far as I could, and was on my way to Morocco – driving down through France and Spain to join a guided tour which would have involved my driving Thebus over the Atlas Mountains, camping in the Sahara Desert, visiting local villages and souks, seeing Marakesh, Casablanca and lots of other places over a period of about eight weeks.
I had also joined a group called The Silk Route, and another The Overlanders, intending to see how far East I could get. To my mind the name Samarkand is so evocative! But now? The doctors seem so very doom-laden that I worry what would happen if I was ill whilst travelling, not only for me, but for Phoebe.
Many years ago I could not imagine I would ever have cancer – (and why would I think of such a thing when no-one in my family had ever suffered with this)
I would comment that the very diagnosis of ‘cancer’ is like a Ju-Ju man of some ancient tribe putting on a curse – and because the curse had been uttered that person just faded away. If I cut my finger, without a second thought I just expect it to heal – and the opposite when the diagnosis of cancer looms.
In my case it not just a diagnosis of cancer, but I have been made to understand that any and all treatments I might be given are purely palliative and I have (in medical opinion) no chance of surviving to five years (the official time-scale for having been ‘cured’)
I have so enjoyed travelling and really don’t want to stop, but what about Phoebe if I am taken ill on the road? Even in Europe? And outside Europe what hope would I have of getting medical insurance for myself to cover any trip?
I try to stay positive – but it is not always easy. As I say – just the diagnosis changes everything.
But perhaps the very changes I am being forced to make may ultimately be for the best. As I have said in the past – If you hold a glass of water tight up against your face between your eyes you cannot easily recognise what it is, even though it is in front of your eyes. But viewed from more of a distance it is easy to focus clearly, understand, and quite literally, get things in perspective. So for the moment I just go with the flow and make the best of what I can have and enjoy, and wait to see what life will bring.