CANCER: AN HONOURABLE DRAW

NOBODY beats cancer because it can always come back, so to be told I’ve lost a prostate but gained a life is a wonderful stalemate.

As an initial reaction I’d like to thank my agent for agreeing not to operate on me and Mr Karim and Mr Afzal who actually did operate me. That was in another town and another county in what still seems to be a surreal take on another existence I’m still not sure happened to me.

I was actually cleaning wild garlic, mud and grass blades off my hands after a brief healing spell in the garden when the phone rang.

On the other end was Dorset County Hospital, Dorchester, and Mystic Meg lookalike Alison Lownes who, in a nutshell, told me that I no longer needed to contemplate drinking my entire stock of blackberry wine in the next few months but could plan a life which focused less on cancer and more on my longevity gene. My father is 94 and counting.

It got better. Six weeks after my make-or-break major operation, my blood PSA count (a chemical released by cancer which the medical professional can plot to determine how advanced it is) was the absolute most brilliant best it could be – just 0.01 or nearly a thousandth of what it had been.

On top of that tests showed my tumour had only attacked just three percent of my prostate and, crucially, had not reached the edge of my prostate and so had not spread to other bodily parts.

But don’t get your hopes up. You may still be rid of me yet.

I was told by DCH that there was still the possibility – however remote – that microscopic cells might bring cancer back into my life at some stage in the future, so they will be monitoring my PSA progress every six months or so with blood tests for the rest of my life.

That said, I still feel that I’m in a poker game where I’ve been dealt four aces….with the fifth tucked cautiously into my sleeve.

This has to rank as about the best news I have heard since I qualified for beer support tax!

I could have stayed in and spent hours on the phone ringing everyone up with my good news, I could have ignored that and just gone out with a few family and friends for a celebratory drink. In the end I did both.

My beer suddenly seemed packed with taste, my companions’ conversation both incredibly intelligent and witty and my surroundings at The Boot pub superbly atmospheric and up to the occasion, so maybe beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I beholded about four pints, way more than I should have, but who cares. Life is life and all the sweeter for it.

Don’t get me wrong. I am on cloud nine at the moment, but I will still be turning up for all those six-monthly tests.

I am a bit euphoric at the moment, so I will close now with a huge thank-you to the many hundreds of people who have stuck by me and wished me well over the last six months.

My close friends have been brilliant, but it is a lot more than that because the community has genuinely supported me through a horrible time – don’t eat vegetable soup in hospital – for which I will always be grateful.

Only today I had five more best wishes from people who hoped I would pull through without – like myself – knowing that a few hours later I would be given a lifeline on life.

It just goes to show that, in the great annual scale of things, your cancer may force you to focus on February but good news means it’s Christmas all the way.

Have a great weekend to you all. I certainly will….and that celebration night I have talked about is definitely in the offing. Enjoy the rest of your life.

 

STORMS

                               STORM

 

TAKE a stroll along Portland’s sea defences, Weymouth Esplanade or Preston Beach Road and you see something which mirrors many of the storm problems being faced nationally.

Televisions have been full of excavators and bulldozers frantically trying to push back pebbles to the higher half of Chesil Beach while there have been more grim-faced television presenters talking about waves sweeping up and over Weymouth’s golden sands.

Still more presenters lecture us about Preston Beach Road being closed, painting a seething scenario of half the Channel cascading over the sea wall to obliterate Lodmoor nature reserve….well nearly.

The fact is that the British are obsessed by the weather and like nothing better than a good moan about death, doom and destruction caused by rain, storms, snow, landslides, anything will do.

All this is extremely bad news for the politicians who are on a hiding to nothing when this happens.

Not only are they pilloried for lack of action, lack of investment which could have prevented the damage and lack of foresight in making proper arrangements to deal with the bad weather when it arrived but they suffer something far worse which they really hate. They look even worse than usual in the public spotlight.

Being upstaged by several trillion gallons of floodwater must be galling enough but, to stand any chance of regaining the television centre stage, they must actually be pictured wading out into said floodwater and be smiling when they do it.

On top of that it is very difficult for a politician to claim they are responsible for saving everyone from Armageddon and even harder for them to deny they are not to blame in some way for people’s misery.

This leaves them only one choice. Their mouthpiece must be some MP who has a riverside mansion with a fair sized puddle in its garden to evoke maximum sympathy and the “we’re all in this together” spirit.

Fortunately for everyone’s sanity we also see the reality of Environment Ministers and Environment Agency bosses getting the sharp edge of a few tongues when they literally wade into the debate surrounding worst hit areas.

Naturally no-one is to blame unless you heard the Government saying it was the Environment Agency’s fault for bad advice or the Environment Agency saying it was the Government’s fault for restrictions which limited what it could do.

Now, of course, everyone is suddenly all friends together with the Prime Minister praising the Environment Agency and the Environment Agency saying it is doing its best.

But this instant friendship may owe everything to withering public opinion directed at both sides for their “schoolboy” slanging match over responsibility which actually saw MPs swear.

Mr Cameron has apparently urged his more fiery Ministers to “rein it back a bit”, particularly after the Environment Agency fought its corner and refused to be a whipping boy for the Government.

The bottom line now is that half Somerset is underwater while anyone with a house near the River Thames is rapidly moving furniture upstairs.

Not to be upstaged, poor residents in Worcester now have a county cricket ground which looks like an outdoor swimming pool and a city centre which looks like, well, an outdoor swimming pool.

Weathermen are now starting to say that we are having the wettest winter for more than 200 years and they won’t get too many arguments about that.

Holland, which knows a thing or two about floods, has allowed some of its super pumps to be brought over to England where they are now spouting floodwater into rivers so it can be carried downstream to flood other areas so the misery can be shared about a bit.

All in all, the best place to be is an armchair by a nice fire in a house on ground which is high enough to avoid flooding and low enough to avoid being smashed to smithereens by hurricane-force winds.

Anyone ready for Spring and a few April showers yet?