Love for Now

On Valentine’s Day, 2006, I was was formally diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. I was 42.

Love for Now is the journal I kept of my experience of diagnosis, treatment and misdiagnosis of relapse from this disease. It begins in the days shortly before my diagnosis, and ends some six months later, as I enter the uncertain territory of remission.

It is a book that details the physical and emotional demands of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments, both on me and my family. If you are squeamish about bodily functions, it may not be for you.

It is a book about hospital corridors and sitting in waiting rooms, the doctors and nurses who treated me, their calm and humane professionalism in circumstances most of us would not readily equate with the idea of going to work.

It is also a book about language, both of the doctors I met and in the culture at large, its adequacy, its evasions and its power. If there is one difference I hope to make with this book it is to challenge the overwhelming use of war metaphor (‘Today saw the passing of X, after a short/long battle with cancer…’) to describe cancer. This is inadequate for three reasons.

Firstly, let me assure you, after a day on a chemotherapy drip you feel the battle is being done to you, not that you are choosing to fight in one yourself. Secondly, the notion of a ‘battle’ places the responsibility of getting better upon the patient. This opens up the possibility that it is the ‘strong’ or ‘deserving’ patients who survive having cancer, and that those who die from it are somehow lacking in moral fibre. Thirdly, the idea of cancer as a battle unnecessarily romanticises cancer as a disease when there is nothing romantic about it. Consider the short sentence above, used almost always in the past tense and when someone has just died. Even though the battle has been lost we persist in reassuring ourselves that the deceased has ‘given it everything’.

Love for Now is also a hymn to everyday living and love, especially of my family and friends, without whose support I would not have endured (it is hard to resist war metaphor, even when you are persuaded it is balls) my treatment.

The heroes of the book are the people who were there, who left brownies on the doorstep, came round with meals, organised lifts and childcare; who wept with us when my scan results were misinterpreted, and again when the mistake was discovered.

The book takes its title from the email signature I made on updates to friends of my progress during my treatment. It seemed to me then, and still does now, an imperative to make the most of each day, while realising that each one is so short.

You can red a review of Love for Now here.

You can buy Love for Now from Amazon here.

20 comments

  1. freshlyworded

    Hi Anthony, wondering what you thought of John Diamond and his views on alternative medicine. I noticed you read my post about homeopathy. A really great website by the way – Larry (freshlyworded.wordpress.com).

    • Anthony Wilson

      Dear Larry,
      thanks so much for commenting on this post. I greatly admire what John Diamond did in both C and Snake Oil. I am not much of a fan of homeopathy, and even my homeopathy friends say they would have opted to have the same treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, had they had it. I mention John Diamond specifically in my post 8 Great Books about Dying, on the site.
      As ever with good wishes and thanks again
      Anthony

  2. evelyneholingue

    Read your book and found it deeply positive. I love how you write about your friends’ visits and also about the people’s various reactions – not always good. Of course the support of your wife and loved ones was amazing. Your descriptions of your eating cravings made me smile despite the fact that they were linked to your cancer. As the mother of a boy, I especially liked how you spoke of your son. Lots of humor and love for life.
    Best to you,

    • Anthony Wilson

      Dear Evelyne Thank you so much for giving me this kind review and for taking the time to read Love for Now. I am pleased you enjoyed it! Do spread the work among your networks, or even consider writing a review on Amazon. I’m grateful you took the time to let me know what you thought about it. As ever with thanks Anthony Anthony Wilson

      Love for Now, my memoir of cancer, is availablehere

      Riddance, my new book of poems, is availablehere

      >________________________________

  3. Judith Gunn

    Hi, just got the Kindle version, will have a read now things are easing up at work! I saw your “Like” on my post, thanks, did you ever come across Stuart Browne and his book “Dangerous Parking”? on a similar topic. He recounts a mistake over the dosage of chemo – done with a wry sense of humour – the novel covers some of his angst over writing as well – worth a look from whatever angle – just a thought.

    • Anthony Wilson

      Hi Judith I do like your post and thanks for buying the Kindle edition! I did not know about Dangerous Parking, nor its film. I’m looking forward to catching up with both.

      In a weird way this is brilliant timing as I have embarked on a screenplay of Love for Now and am beginning to gen up on the crowdsourcing/kickstarter thing.

      I think it is the only way forward. With thanks and best wishes as ever Anthony Anthony Wilson

      Love for Now, my memoir of cancer, is availablehere

      Riddance, my new book of poems, is availablehere

      >________________________________

    • Anthony Wilson

      Dear Molly
      thank you so much for this, I am touched and delighted!
      It is great to know my story is counting for something out there.
      As ever with thanks
      Anthony

  4. Susan Wilde

    I will buy your poems soon .. but for now, I want to say it makes me smile that you use the words “for now” in your title. In my own 6+ years of life with cancer I have had a steady sequence of bad-good-bad-good news and try to level out my emotional responses to either type of medical developments … . I try to think “it’s good, for now” or “it’s bad, for now” … being very aware of how transient both states can be …

    • Anthony Wilson

      Hi there and thanks again for your comment. The ‘For Now’ part of my title comes from the heart. I found myself typing emails to friends and family during my treatment and signing them Love for Now…It became a kind of article of faith to live by, an imperative to make the most of each day, whilst realising each one is so short… a kind of deliberate effort to live more in the moment. That is where I am coming from, in both Riddance and the memoir. With thanks for your support Anthony Anthony Wilson

      Love for Now, my memoir of cancer, is availablehere

      Riddance, my new book of poems, is availablehere

      >________________________________

      • Tim Brosnan

        Anthony – What an inspiring post! Well done. I publish a music blog called The Eclectic Ear and your post reminded me of the Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic”. I recently posted a piece about the use of poetry in modern music that you may enjoy. Hope to see you there. Cheers.

      • Anthony Wilson

        Thank you Tim for your kind words. I am a Van fan too. The Healing Has Begun is never far away.
        Thanks for pointing me to your blog: it’s fascinating.
        Good wishes and hats off
        Anthony

  5. Gabby

    Hello Anthony

    I was handed a copy of your book by my mum the day before I came into hospital for salvage chemo for hodgkins. Wrapped beautifully in wrapping paper with pink words of love on it, I started reading straight away. Really enjoying the down to earth feel of the book esp loved the part , Later , about cancer being fair. I find it terribly embarassing when people say I am

    brave or strong , its not a choice. I want to live therefore I sit in a purple comfy chair or lie in my bed and and pumped with poison.

  6. Gabby

    Sorry pressed button too early , lets blame chemo.
    So will.continue to enjoy the book and will look up the authors and poets I do not know as have lots of google time on my hands Very familar with the Smiths but not managed to convert family yet !

    Good luck with book and film and remission

    • Anthony Wilson

      Dear Gabby
      Thanks so much for your very kind comment on Love for Now.
      I am sorry to hear you are not well, but pleased my book seems to have found you at the right moment. I think you are right, that we’re not really brave when receiving treatment, we just get on with it.
      It is not fair either, but then neither is being called brave. I’m glad you liked the Smiths reference, that always seems to divide people! Wishing you all the very best, and with many thanks again, Anthony

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