It’s been a shamefully long time since my last blog. It’s been a busy few weeks. I’ve spent much of the time talking about my cancer. When people ask me how I am, it’s usually followed up with “sorry, you’re probably bored of people asking you about it”. In some ways that’s true – only in that I’m boring myself because I feel like I’m repeating things I say a lot. But in other ways not. Every time I tell my story to someone new or give a rundown of the latest on my treatment, it takes a little bit of the sting out of it. Makes it seem more normal. Basically I find talking about it takes the power away from the cancer.
And so I seem to have embarked on something of a media blitz over the last few weeks. Immediately after my diagnosis I felt I want to do something on air at 5 Live. Seeing as I talk on the radio for a living it seemed a natural conclusion that I would talk about this. I hoped that by sharing and talking about my experience, my story might resonate with others in the same situation and perhaps provide them with a small shred of comfort (misery loves company!) or enlighten those who had no idea what having cancer was like. So last week I had my first chat with the lovely Emma Barnett on 5 Live Daily about my diagnosis. I’ll be popping up every few weeks to talk about my treatment and some of the issues surrounding cancer.
As ever these things seem to snowball and when I was approached by BBC North West news, who I’ve presented for from time to time over the last 4 years, to do a blog for them via the relatively new medium of Facebook Live I couldn’t say no. It sounded like quite an innovative and intriguing idea…documenting my story via live blogs on their Facebook page while answering questions and comments from people at the same time. It’s been an education. Here is entry 1:
For the second live blog I decided I wanted to live stream my next chemo session. This was met with suspicion by some and derision by others who thought it ‘too much’ and ‘too intrusive’. But as I explain in the video the aim was to demystify the whole experience. I had no idea what to expect when I arrived for my first session and your imagination is always worse than the actual reality. I sat there waiting in tears dreading what was to come. Then it came and went and I was like “Was that it?” If I could help one person not feel like that then it would be worth it:
It was pretty exhausting doing an hour of live broadcasting and answering questions live during chemo but the response was overwhelmingly positive so I felt it was worth it. The story made the national press, though my favourite coverage came from the lovely people at Glamour Magazine who totally ‘GOT’ what it was all about.
So here-in lies the distraction paradox. Cancer is crap – the treatment is tedious but it doesn’t have to be all consuming. So I’ve said from the beginning I wanted to distract myself from it as much as possible. But weirdly talking about it in this way and appearing on 5 Live and BBC North West to discuss it IS actually distracting. Approaching a chemo session as a work event makes it feel less like a treatment and more like a work shift. It takes my mind away off the depressing nature of what is going on and into a more creative mind-set.
And every little word I utter is another little finger jab at the cancer. You may try to overwhelm me, but I’m coming straight back at you with an army of well-wishers behind me.
I’ve been giving too much time to the dark voices recently. Now I’m coming back fighting.