Thursday, 24 July 2008

4. People are kind

I’ve been socialising this week. Very jolly. It may be a bit late to twig this – but people are kind. They say “anything I can do” and mean it. Come and stay with us; borrow our homes in France or Italy or Austria; even have my air miles (anywhere you want to go as long it’s via Qatar). If by chance this illness turns out to be some mad mistake, we could travel the world and live rent free for years.

People are generous. They come at their own expense from far away places – like San Francisco and Twickenham. And I’ve become generous too. No collection box is passed without donation. Waiters get bigger tips to boost the economies of Eastern Europe. Big Issue sellers must think it's Christmas.

The big news about pancreatic cancer this week is actor Patrick Swayze. Allegedly given a few weeks to live, he sought radical treatment in California and is now apparently back at work. The details are elusive but I've decided it’s worth pursuing, especially if it turns out that the Royal Marsden cannot help me. Also I'd quite like a shot at the remake of Dirty Dancing.

I’m going to the Marsden later today for a CT scan and back again tomorrow for a consultation. No doubt they’ll ask again for my medical history and once again I will say: how long have you got? Which is strange because in my mind, I’m rarely ill. I always considered myself strong, both mentally and physically. I really don’t remember having many days off work. Yet my medical notes read like War and Peace - they'd need to be drastically edited for the paperback edition.

There was illness, obviously, but somehow I wasn’t there. In many ways, I still haven’t arrived – and that’s why I’m still hoping.