Living with cancer #3

It is a little more than three years since I started writing this blog.

Besides a desire to document this life, I was inspired and encouraged by many people. One of these was a man I knew who had recently been diagnosed and who shared with me the experience of telling his boss about it.

He said that he felt as if he had been hit by a train, but that quite evidently he had not been hit by a train. This story inspired the first post at this blog specifically about living with cancer.

His cancer is very different from mine and his treatment was much more invasive. For three years we have been able to share our experiences, to talk to each other freely about the disease, about what it does to our lives, to our bodies and to relations with our nearest and dearest. Having a cancer buddy like this helps make light of the disease and slot it in beside the daily ordinariness of life.

Despite surgery and a couple of years living a reasonably normal life, my friend’s condition deteriorated. Just last week, he succumbed. This came as a surprise to nobody; he had been being cared for in a hospice for several months and had set his affairs in order.

It is at times like these that there is no doubt about what it means to be living with cancer. The last time I saw him, we both knew what was going on and were able to share the knowledge without dressing it up. He was not well though. Apart from the disease wasting away his body and tying him to hospital machines, the medication was slurring his speech and dulling his mind. In the final weeks though he returned to his familiar quirky, ironic wit.

He was one of a kind; generous, sincere, fiercely analytical, classically educated, with a broad understanding of many things, amongst which Latin. Apart from sharing experiences of the disease, we enjoyed many raucous and irreverent conversations about the absurdity of things. I will miss him.

I am glad though he is now relieved of the considerable suffering the disease brought upon him, pleased that our paths crossed in this life, happy with the memories, grateful for the insights he shared, his inspiration at the very start of this blog.

Rest in peace, IK.

Author: Duncan Spence

Mountaineer, retired bicycle messenger, philosopher, wordsmith, proofreader, Dutch translator.

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