Friday, 4 January 2019


Two wonderful new poems by Ann, reflecting the emotional upheaval that hits us all when cancer strikes, and the support given by the few who count.


Like an exclusive club
they sit crutching one another,
wishing each other health
drinking water from plastic cups,
no Waterford crystal here,
just disposable kidney bowls
hairless heads
wrapped in flowered bandannas,
or home knitted bobble hats
wrought by loving fingers,
there is gentle charity
in each soft, weak smile
of camaraderie,
and huge humanity.
Lip Service

They come and go
with fancy words
and Judas' kisses,
touching sorrow
digits never dirtied,
souls never bleeding,
but yet, they touch you
more than the love
or the constant ardency
of the faithful band
who always have your hand.

I considered the crudity of radiotherapy (DXT) in previous articles where I likened it to "burning the witch". In some ways, it is just as crude. Lines of people waiting treatment of all ages and backgrounds, rows of old men drinking to fill the bladder for their prostate therapy; women for breast or ovary cancer; younger people with brain cancers; or children with leukaemias. Many in caps to hide their chemotherapy-induced hair loss. All get the crude blasting of the rays. Somehow, it is reminiscent of bygone days of treatment with insulin, or cold douches, or ECT: violent, indiscriminate, yet it is all we have.

I have to strip to my underwear, and pull them down to expose the tattoo marks to line up the lasers. I never pull them enough, so the young girls (radiotherapists always seem to be young girls) end up pulling them down further, exposing yet more of me to their indifferent gaze. They then push their hands under my buttocks to pull me about and line me up accurately. It is fortunate I'm in no state for arousal, or I might get more burnt than the bladder.  One day we will have potent treatments against cancer, perhaps a simple inoculation to stimulate the appropriate white cells to march against the invaders. Then shall we be unshackled form these mighty machines, and they will be no more than a curiosity in some documentary of the past.

Sir Billy Connolly sums it up in an article in The Mail today: "As bits slip off and leave me, talents leave and attributes leave. I don't have the balance I used to have, I don't have the energy I used to have. I can't hear the way I used to hear, I can't see as good as I used to. I can't remember the way I used to remember. And they all came one at a time and they just slipped away, thank you. It is like somebody is in charge of you and they are saying, 'Right, I added all these bits when you were a youth, now it is time to subtract'."

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