Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
- Splendid isolation in Bangkok - December 5, 2022
- Why the Wai beats the handshake every time in the COVID era - December 1, 2022
- Discovering the lure of luxury at Hong Kong Airport and with Le Clos at DXB - November 25, 2022
63 days and counting. My final (I hope) chemotherapy regime has begun. Chalk those days off. On 18 January I plan to walk clear from this tough, toxic yet miraculous treatment and to discover that all the cancer is out of my body. It’s called the road to remission and it’s one of the bumpiest I’ll ever take,
On Tuesday I returned to my old haunt, the Royal Marsden Hospital, epicentre of cancer care in the UK. A place of suffering, a place of wonder. But – and I hope my great doctors and nurses don’t read this – it’s a place I hope I don’t have to frequent too often (apart from for regular check-ups) after January next year.
That will depend, as it does for every Marsden patient, on the dice roll of destiny.
Every cancer patient has his or her own story. All around me, fellow sufferers sit in their padded armchairs, like customers in a giant hairdresser’s salon, except here the treatment is via drip feed from bags of various chemotherapy cocktails.
Today I sat alongside a young man of just 37, attended constantly by his equally young wife, who was conspicuously pregnant. I learned that this would be his fourth child – and that this was his third recurrence of the cancer that had first struck seven years ago. That rather put my own situation in context.
Context, perspective, call it what you will, is a vital commodity during times like this. It’s easy – entirely human in fact – to lose perspective on one’s trials and feel they are worse than they are.
I thought about that fact when I was grizzling to myself the other day about my eating difficulties post my stomach removal in October. But while eating may be filled with anxiety (how much, how often, how fast), that’s not half as much anxiety as is felt every day by millions of the world’s starving who would love nothing more than to have an eating regime as privileged as mine – even on a full stomach.
So… two months left of a now familiar regime. Familiarity makes it less daunting this time around, though I’m told it will be more punishing due to the cumulative effect of the programme and the October surgery. I am as familiar with the landmarks of South Kensington and the eating places of Fulham Road as I used to be with Heathrow T5 and its retail and F&B facilities.
At South Kensington underground station the other day, post a CT scan in the hospital, I stopped to listen to a busker singing folk songs on an acoustic guitar.
In the chilly hours and minutes,
Of uncertainty, I want to be,
In the warm hold of your loving mind.
To feel you all around me,
And to take your hand, along the sand,
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind
It was Donovan’s lovely 60s ballad ‘Catch the Wind’, a song that has always appealed to me for its whimsical beauty, especially the lovely elusive thought contained in its title.
As other commuters rushed by, I stopped to hear the full song. And then he played another Donovan classic – the great ‘Universal Soldier’, as powerful and apt a condemnation of war as it was when penned all those years ago.
I fumbled in my wallet for some change but to my chagrin found I only had pennies. But I did have notes and judging by the busker’s expression I truly made his day when I dropped a £10 note in the guitar case at his feet. But then, he had truly made mine.
So there’s good moments in all experiences, even the most challenging ones. Sometimes you simply need to know where to look and to keep everything in context. I’m discovering that there are bumps aplenty, but joys too, in the chilly hours and minutes of uncertainty along the road to remission.