When the day that lies ahead of me seems impossible to face. When someone else instead of me always seems to know the way. Then I look at you and the world’s alright with me
Lovely Day – Bill Withers*
One year on. Still me
A year ago today, my doctor called. She introduced the word “myeloma” into my vocabulary, and told me she suspected I had it. I looked it up online and learned that it is incurable, and median survival is about 5 years (these two facts stood out from the rest). I can’t really explain what it was like, to discover all that, what it was like to have the sky suddenly fall in on me. Not that I think my experience is special, or even ultimately unusual. The sky falls on us all, someday.
At first I rejected the concept of “fighting” myeloma, because the physical battle took place in my blood stream. My role was merely to take the drugs as instructed – on days 1, 2, 3, 4 and so on (I don’t think they deserve to be called medicines, if we’re honest). But over time, I’ve come to realise that the real fight is the one in my head. I’m no longer terrified by the statistics. I know that, if past outcomes are anything to go by, I may win many physical battles with myeloma but I am unlikely to win the ultimate physical war. I also know that if Andy Murray believed in the hegemony of the past, he wouldn’t be Wimbledon Champion.
But the mental fight is something I can win with certainty. Because no matter what happens to me, I’m still Alex. I’m still Daddy. I’ve still got interests and ambitions. I’ve still got my friends. I’ve still got my sense of humour.
So happy anniversary, myeloma. I took all the drugs. They weren’t so bad. I’m still here. I know you’ll call again. I’ll take all the drugs again, or maybe some different ones. And I’ll still be here, while I can. I’ll be me, regardless. You lost.
I’d love to claim to have come up with the following statement myself, but I didn’t. Sums up how I feel, though:
* Thank you to my fantastic family for bringing this lovely Bill Withers lyric back to mind. We had our annual camping weekend together this month. This year’s evening ents opened with renditions of Portishead’s “Glory Box”, Candi Staton’s (or maybe Florence and The Machine’s cover of) “You Got the Love” and Bob Marley’s “Wings of a Dove”. Campfire singing, raised to a very high level.