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Thorpe Groyney

Open your mind
Nov 20, 2008
Surely it's plain to see?
I'm just in from my daily walk. Despite the cold my face is burning up. Although the wander was a modest one, to Southchurch Park, the seafront and then back home, my body aches all over and I'm far too tired for a bloke of my age to be.

You see, people, I have cancer - and I'm fare more unhappy about life than I should be.

It started last summer when I inexplicably soiled myself at work. Humiliated, I simply cleaned myself up, made a joke of it, then thought no more about it. As the weeks wore on, though, I felt worse and worse. I had some blood tests done. The docs said I had an abnormally low white blood cell count, but that wasn't uncommon, and they gave me some medication.

Still the health deteriorated. I felt more lethargic, more achy across the body. I started to soil myself more frequently, on one horrible occasion in front of my son. It must have been far more dreadful for him to see his father in that state though.

I still thought no more about it. I was passing my bodily fluids without pain, although a nagging ache around the stomach seemed to have taken up permanent residency. Then over Christmas whatever I was passing was coloured reindeer-nose red. This time I had a cat scan and other needles inserting somewhere you don't want to know. It was then confirmed. A coule of cancerous growths in the bladder.

I, though, am one of the lucky ones. They've been found in time to have them removed completely and 3-monthly check-ups will ensure I can live a normal life sooner rather than later. My op is next Tuesday. They insert a needle into my groin, stick in a tube, remove the tumours, then cauterise it all. Nice. I'm so looking forward to it, though, as the alternative is pushing up the daisies a lot sooner than desired.

In the meantime I've been given more and more medicines, pills and potions. I counted the different forms I haf to take first thing in the morning today. It totalled 13. I'll soon be getting birthday cards from Glaxo.

What I have noticed, though, since the diagnosis, is a change in personality, attitudes and day-to-day living. Take today for instance. Within 10 minutes I felt like being sick. There was pain across the intestines, across my arm joints. When I stopped walking I was perspiring heavily. An old man, after I started wandering again, walked right across my path. Normally, I would have been annoyed at someone being that selfish but now I couldn't walk as fast as him. Last summer I was walking a minimum of 12 miles a day. Minimum. Now a 20 minute ramble takes me nearer 50.

I am also now , well I wouldn't say unpleasant to be around, but I'm a lot more difficult to be with. I know it, too, but the worst thing is I don't care. I snap at people a lot. I'm more intolerant of others behaviour and opinions. If I upset someone I don't give a damn. At night, my dreams have become dark and disturbing.

There's also the more worrying traits of everyday living. I have to take spare underwear everywhere I go now. I make a lot more spelling mistakes on here and when I'm writing for the Basildon programme (the spell-check is a Godsend) - it's taken me twice as long to write this than I would normally do. I think of one thing to write in my head then what comes out is a totally different word or sentence.

The other day I was queuing for drinks. When I got to the till I suddenly 'remembered' that I'd forgotten to draw out the money to pay for it. I couldn't even remember the word 'laptop' for a good minute or so, despite being in PC world. In fact I struggled to remember it now.

It does lead me to wonder why this has all happened - not the cancer, I can deal with that, no problem - but the falling away of my personality and the ability to do simple everyday tasks. Is a side effect of the Big C becoming a big c yourself? Is it the medicines doing this to me? Or am I just a nasty, miserable, selfish soul and it took something like this to bring out the bad in me.

All I know at the moment is that I can't wait for next Tuesday to come around. Not just to remove a couple of bits of my body I don't want or need, but I can't stand the person I'm turning into and want to see if and when my old self returns.

Until then, if you see me walking around Southchurch Park, you're probably best to give me a wide berth.