Posted. Removed. Now re-posted. Just because it feels it should be. Contains more swearing than normal but I like to think that in this case it’s justified.
What’s the point? I mean really? What is the point? What is the fucking point of millions of years of evolution if all we end up with is something like cancer? We spend thousands of years mastering war and love and literature and technology, desperately trying to catch up with our imaginations, and then just when things start to look quite promising some great big fucking slap in the face comes along and gives us a great big fucking slap in the face. And the hand that slaps us is called cancer. And cancer is stupid.
I’m only kidding, of course. Things are never, and have never been, particularly rosy. Life is festooned with all kinds of shitty things but very few of them come anywhere close to ‘the big c’. Someone very important to me has just told me they have been diagnosed with cancer. I won’t go into specifics until I’ve found out a bit more. They left a voicemail and told me so and my bones went all cold and I felt queasy and then I called them back and we had the first chat we’ve had for ages. And I can’t even be miserable about it because they seem to be taking it in their stride and so therefore must I. At least I think that’s how it works.
So now I’ve become one of that third of all people who will get cancer or knows someone with it. Or is it half? I suppose I know a couple of people already but they’re not that close so it doesn’t really count. I would like to think that when, or better if, I get diagnosed with it I’ll be able to just get on and down to the nitty-gritty and hope that with the right treatment it’ll get flushed down the fucking toilet. I don’t envy anyone who has to ‘struggle’ with cancer or ‘live’ with cancer or even ‘battle’ the fucking thing. It would be so much easier just to get up very close and then, real sudden like, fist it in half. But that definitely isn’t how it works.
For the person I know and love (though between us we are dreadful at keeping in touch) they’ll have to spend endless hours in white plastic and plasterboard corridors waiting for all kinds of things to be done to their body that they really won’t like. It’ll probably not be too kind to their brain either. I expect they’ve already had some sleepless nights and I’m fairly sure they’ll have quite a few more on top of that and I wish I could do something about it. I’m not sure I’d want to take the cancer for them (I’m too much of a coward) but if there was a list of people I might do that for then they’d be very, very close to the top of it. They’re putting on their brave face for this and I have nothing but admiration because despite all the big talk I’d almost certainly cry like a big pussy. Maybe they have too, there is no shame.
Cancer is indiscriminate and cold and heartless. They say genes play a big part but so does luck, or lack of it. In fact cancer is just a right old fucking nasty cunt. It doesn’t care if you’re naughty or nice or black or white. It doesn’t bother to ask if you work as a dementia nurse or a drug dealer. If the world was fair then Hitler would have got in-operable, rapid onset, unbelievably aggressive cancer of the entire body on his 18th birthday and so would every other bastard you can think of. If we didn’t have cancer we might still have Christopher Hitchins and John Cazale and countless other useful people. And if we didn’t have cancer I wouldn’t feel sick with worry or be writing this just to try to get it all sorted in my head. It’s really not working. And yes I know it’s not about me, but I’d find it difficult to write about someone else’s feelings. If I could make cancer go away by writing then I’d keep writing and never stop.
So thanks a fucking bunch, cancer. Thanks very much for creeping into our lives and fucking everything up. It’s sad to say but I sincerely doubt you get much of a kick from it anymore. Surely by the end Harold Shipman wasn’t getting much of a thrill, just going through the motions. Well, cancer is worse than Harold Shipman. At least today it is. Cancer is shit and it never seems to slow down. By the time someone in a lab coat finds half a cure for a third of one type of cancer another seven cancers will have emerged to make the world a shittier place. Cancer of the ear. Cancer of the fridge. Cancer of the abbreviation. I suppose we should just thank the stars in the night sky that we have advanced medicine enough to be able to stick a knife into cancer’s putrid little belly and give it a good twist; that when we can’t kill it we can still say “fuck you”. If you started the world all over again what kind of terrible, warped fuckbag would come up with cancer?
For fuck’s sake, I hope they’ll be alright.
G B Hewitt. 18.03.2018