Mum & Dad
Well, it’s really a case of who in my family hasn’t experienced cancer?
Here’s the roll-call so far.
Starting with my Dad’s side of the family:
- Dad – prostate, skin, parotid gland, and now throat – Dad passed away 27/9/11
- Dad’s younger sister – breast, skin – Aunt Peg passed away 5/12/11
- Dad’s youngest sister – non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, skin – Aunt Joan passed away late 2012
On my Mum’s side:
- Mum – eye, liver, & brain – she passed away 1978
- Her elder brother – stomach – he’s passed away
- Her eldest brother – lung – he’s passed away
- Me: I’ve had an SCC removed, and see a dermo regularly for ongoing prophylactic treatment of various solar keratoses
- My elder sister: breast cancer – she’s still alive
- My eldest brother: a malignant melanoma on his back – he’s still alive
- I have another brother who hasn’t been touched by the Big C yet
Somewhere in my life’s journey, a meandering and selfish wander so far, trying to not look cancer in the eye, it was the quote ‘cancer is a word, not a sentence’, that made me start confronting the spectre of cancer. I didn’t know who the quote was attributed to when I first read it, but with the help of the Internet, I discovered it was John Diamond, an English journalist. To be frank, I’m still not sure what the quote means; I guess it can be interpreted in various ways, and like confronting a diagnosis of cancer first-hand, you make of it what you want, but it does mean something to me all the same.
When I had an SCC removed from my neck, I couldn’t avoid cancer anymore. I have to confront it; but I don’t want it to define my life if I can possibly help it.
Dad commenced treatment for cancer at the base of his tongue earlier in 2011. That was the last bout of C he fought, and finally lost.
Chemo was always out – it would have killed him.
He did have surgery, but that didn’t get the primary site.
He had a full course of radiotherapy.
He couldn’t eat anymore, so he had a PEG inserted into his stomach.
If I was in such a state, I’d hope my partner and children would do the same – not in a self-centred ‘woe is me’ sort of way, but if I was terminally crook with cancer (which I expect will happen some day), I’d be letting those closest to me know that with what life I had left, I’d be embracing it with both arms.
To be frank, confronting the Big C has got me on a path of ‘life-embracement’. I’m not always chipper, I can still be cranky, lazy, and selfish, but I’ve decided life is for living, I really have to make more of an effort, and the living I want to do is with my partner and children.
I guess that’s what the Big C can do to you.
William Parker Monfries: 21/5/17 – 27/9/11.
He lived a life that went from biplanes to jumbos.
Updated June 2013