Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
- Seeing just one red line on day nine - December 8, 2022
- Splendid isolation in Bangkok - December 5, 2022
- Why the Wai beats the handshake every time in the COVID era - December 1, 2022
‘For this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other. Lift our eyes to the snarl and smile of the world once more. Drag our shadowed crosses into the hope of another night. With longing: the pure, ineffable yearning to be saved.’ – Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts.
Undergoing chemotherapy is all about putting one foot forward and then the other. It’s about getting through each day – enduring the bad, celebrating the good. It’s about chalking the days off one’s treatment regime, one by one.
Chemotherapy, to lift the words of Yeats, is a ‘terrible beauty’. It offers hope where just a few years ago there would be none; it even offers, to the lucky ones, a cure. But the beauty is laced with darkness. It’s powerful, ravaging, toxic, occasionally indiscriminate stuff that hits a few innocent bystanders within your body as it seeks out the real enemy within.
The side effects vary person by person, regime by regime. For me currently it’s about constant, nagging nausea and an almost total lack of concentration – maddening when you do a job like mine. And I always, always feel cold, often right to the bone.
I’m two weeks into my final nine week programme. As promised by my always candid medical team, it’s much tougher second time round. Getting through each day is an achievement (I am genuinely marking the days off on a chart on my fridge), each mark signifying another day closer to a period of normality.
For now the magic elixir that is Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is off the menu; hot toddies with an appropriately excessive ratio of whisky are what the doctor ordered – or should have. I recommend spoiling yourself by using a great flavoursome single malt such as Glenfiddich Havana Reserve or Glengoyne Port Finish – hey you only live once…
Concentration difficulties aside, I am pouring through some excellent reading. With the epic Shantaram (see above) behind me, I have started, courtesy of Sharon Weiner from DFS, on The Shadow of the Wind (La sombra del viento), the magnificent 2001 novel by Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
It is keeping me suitably distracted from the less pleasant realities of life and transporting me – as it has with millions of readers – to a marvellously atmospheric post–Spanish Civil War Barcelona. The Shadow of the Wind has been described by one critic as a “love letter to literature”. Quite so. It’s also an unexpected antidote to chemotherapy.