You thought you’d set the bar, I never tried to work it out. We just lit the fire and now you want to put it out. You gave it all you got, and what you got is not a lot
Default – Django Django

Day 11 : … Haemoglobin 8.3 … Neutrophils 0.03 … Platelets 8 …

Despite the title of this post, I’m feeling pretty good. I can hardly sit up without feeling dizzy, but I continue to feel the chemo recede – I even successfully order and eat a curry this evening. They ply me with meds, and a platelet transfusion this evening. Sometimes there’s so much stuff – at the rate they’re giving it to me they must think I’m applying anti-fungal cream to my groin with a dessert spoon.

When they tell me my scores I comment that my neutrophils have gone up. They laugh. 0.01 and 0.03 are two shades of zero. Still, I’m optimistic they will be up more tangibly tomorrow. There’s talk of me being home next week.

Marisa reminded me today to go on my email – I’d forgotten for several days – and I am stunned (and delighted) by all the messages. There were a lot of responses to when, the other day, I said that “things could always be worse”. Let me explain what I meant, because I meant it literally.

At the time I had two people’s stories going through my mind. One, a friend of a friend, is dying of bone cancer. The other, a myeloma sufferer who is younger than me, has had her stem cell transplant delayed because her cancer has relapsed. (They both write wonderful honest blogs, though they don’t pull any punches.) I also had in mind the drama I am occasionally aware of around me in the ward as the medics attend to someone who has “crashed”. People die in haematology wards.

Do other people’s trials make mine any lesser? No. But I’m not vain enough to pretend that my trials are anything special. I’ve been a little morbidly fixated, these past months, by hideous turns of fate: being killed by a falling helicopter while on the way to work or being beheaded by a lunatic while out shopping, to pick two recent examples from the media. I’m not talking probabilities here, because these are all very rare events, but I am talking possibilities, because they are all real. Helicopter crashes, and bone cancer, and deranged beheadings, and myeloma, are all real.

And I’m not using the word “worse” as a euphemism for dying, because there are worse things than death or bereavement. Or at least, their are worse forms of death and bereavement. Go read “First they killed my father” by Luong Ung, a child in 1970s Cambodia, or “Wave” by Sonali Deraniyagala, who lost her parents, her husband and both her children in the tsunami in Sri Lanka.

So when I said “things could always be worse” I wasn’t being stoic. I was stating a fact. And to be honest, I wasn’t thinking so much of me, as of you. There are a lot more of you than there are of me. All our lives are full of challenges, and we all have times when we feel sick, or down, or stressed, or angry, or frustrated, or unappreciated, or lonely, or tired, or persecuted, or bored, or just simply pissed off. And the only thing we can do, is pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and just get on with it. Because it could be worse. A lot worse.