‘People say I’m brave about cancer, but I’m realistic. I’m a storyteller’ (Steve Hewlett)

And so dear listener, I felt really strange on Monday but nothing to do with any virus. I had to turn down the opportunity to take part in an interview with John Ross Beattie on BBC Radio Scotland about some recent cancer statistics that showed that men with prostate cancer living in the most deprived communities in Scotland are nearly twice as likely to die from the illness as those in the most affluent postcodes. This time eight years ago I was finishing the first half of my treatment for this cancer before starting thirty-seven days of radiotherapy.

Those who know me know how passionate my thoughts are on so much of what is involved in that simple, but long, sentence. Why, I could even have brought in libraries and their importance to the community. Macmillan Cancer folk have an arrangement with Glasgow Libraries where on certain days they have information points and people to talk to about cancer. 🙂

Later that day, I heard that Steve Hewlett had died. Steve is (sorry) was a journalist and academic who was one of the best in both fields. He’d been Editor of Panorama for the Princess Di interview and presented Broadcasting House on Radio 4. He also recently had been taking part regularly on PM on Radio 4 talking about his cancer and its progress. He knew it was terminal.

I’d have loved to do that during my treatment. The only difference is that Steve knew he was dying and talked about that. I am still alive and still pestering people about going to gigs and going for coffee. 🙂

He was also a better broadcaster than me. I was once asked, live, to explain what radiotherapy was like. My reply?

‘It’s like being zapped by a nuclear zapping thing.’

Altho’ having heard Donald Trump trying to describe uranium and cybers (both of which can be ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ apparently), I don’t feel quite so bad.

Steve spoke with great dignity on whatever he was talking about – media mergers or his forthcoming death. I rush at things. My mother also spoke with great dignity when she decided not to have chemotherapy which would only have been a delaying process. I walked very slowly homewards from the hospital that night and then remembered I’d driven there.

I remember talking to J last year about a man called Jonathan Wilson (1970-2002) who used to write a column for the Scotsman called Dead Man Talking. He knew he was dying but he lived a lot longer than the initial prognosis.

Still, I have this blog. It started eight years ago and was designed, I thought, as a means of telling people how the treatment was going and would stop when the treatment stopped (if in fact it did – you can never be too sure altho’ I’m reasonably certain now…….Fate has just been tempted!!!!). Like me it has kept going and, like me, it can be a real pest. 🙂

I have done TV and radio and newspapers (my favourite quote for one of the Record pieces was ‘alarm bells started ringing when a nurse stuck her finger up my bum’ BUT this very simple test is one of the reasons why men won’t go and get things checked. To all women who have ever given birth, there are some men who consider this basic test to be invasive!)

I’ve done information talks and ‘manned’ information stands at various events* and done informal chats with many people in many situations and I’ve done it all being very positive but the question of death will always hang over people with cancer but it tends to come from friends and family.

*I haven’t done many recently and they’ve tended to be a wee bit freelance but if you, or any group with which you’re associated, want a speaker about prostate cancer or information stand for a health event, then contact Prostate Cancer UK’s Scottish office (for Scotland) on 0141 218 4760.

And when I talk about ‘still wearing that badge’, there are two. One is the ‘big sky’ badge which J gave me and the other is the Prostate Cancer Awareness badge for which a donation is good. Both are very positive and optimistic.

Mind you on one occasion, when teaching at college, in an all-male staff-room (not testosterone filled as I was full of oestrogen at the time) I had put up a notice saying,

‘which one of you bastards has stolen a dying man’s coffee?’

Unfortunately some students had come in to video me for something else and saw this. I later heard them talking about ‘poor John’ in the corridor. The next time I had them in class I had a lot of explaining to do – but it was worth it. The lesson plan was thrown out of the window. e was my curriculum leader. I don’t think she minded.

More people survive than die but what is survival? Ernie Walker was General Secretary of the Scottish Football Association when Scotland actually got to World Cup Finals. When he died, the press reported that he had been ‘battling prostate cancer for eighteen years.’ I’m sorry. That is no battle; that is a clear victory. 🙂

But I still cry at cancer ads on TV.

Sorry if this is a bit disjointed but it’s been written in one go and it did get started at three this morning and it’s only just gone four but sometimes scrawling a note to yourself just isn’t enough. It’s also been written earlier in the week than usual.

I might as well just stay awake and do some editing or send some mails pestering people about gigs and going for coffee. Well at least I’m alive to do that.

R.I.P Steve Hewlett.

Cya, still wearing both those badges and still keeping it simple.

Iaint850  and still available for gigs and for coffee…..whatever. 😉

And in other news….…I’m back at work but have been using the last few days to get fit; it’s days and it’s different but in ways I’d not expected; there was snow;  football and Gaelic are on the to-do list; and once I get rid of all the rubbish food in the house, I’ll start the diet. Oh, and I may be going to see the dragons in Edinburgh. What’s that, Skippy? Sorry. I may be going to see the dungeons in Edinburgh. 😀

Have I played Mariachi El Bronx here before? To hell with it. I’ll let David Letterman introduce them.

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