By this time in January, 2006 I was fairly certain that something was very wrong with my health. Like a lot of people I knew I had felt exhausted the previous Christmas. I can still see the look of concern on my colleagues’ faces when I turned up to an end of term meeting looking grey. Christmas came and went, as it does, and I seemed to turn a corner.

Then on New Year’s Day I woke up with a tearing pain in my right side. I thought, after a night celebrating with friends, that I may have kicked the covers off during the night, and slept in a draft. Sympathy that morning was in fairly short supply.

The pain did not lessen. I spent most of that eveing in the A & E department of the local hospital, where tests on my kidneys (our original suspicion) revealed absolutely nothing. I was sent home with some high-dose painkillers.

But the pain only grew worse. My GP ordered me to pack a bag a bag of ‘a few odds and sods’ and sent me back to the hospital for more tests. I spent a very interesting night and a day in the Emergency Medical Unit largely not being seen by anyone due to my non-urgent symptoms.

Sent home again with even stronger pain killers I began to feel like I was wading through concrete even in the most basic of tasks. My GP looked at me with increasing puzzlement. We bagan to discuss the possibility of getting an ultrasound scan done on my side. He put me down on the urgent list and told me it would take six weeks.

This week in January in 2006 I made the decision to book a private scan, the results of which changed my life.


In September of this year you will be able to read the full account of these days in two books, Riddance (Worple Press), a book of poems, and Love for Now (Impress Books), a prose memoir.

Here, from Riddance, is where my experience of cancer began, with my GP’s instruction to get packing.

A Few Odds and Sods


was all he said I’d need:

‘It’s only overnight.’


I hated the midnight obs,

the moaning and tossing of men


who didn’t know where they were,

offering to buy everyone drinks.


Just dozing off at six

a trolley appeared with tea.


I told them my birth-date

and got seen last.


The scan on my balls was fun:

‘Just like a pair of lychees.’


They booked in a day for more tests.

Then came the visitors and the grapes.

from Riddance (Worple Press, 2012)