When they told me I would live

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Nine days after I was told that my chemotherapy treatment was not working in April 2006 the doctors discovered the mistake of the radiologist who originally reported on my scan.

The extract below is from Love for Now, my journal-memoir of treatment for lymphoma. It is now available as a Kindle edition on Amazon.

April 28, 2006

What is it like, being told you are going to live? You hug your mother, who cries. You phone your wife who goes ‘Yipee!’. You drink coffee and eat pastries to celebrate. You tell your cleaning ladies, who are so pleased (they thought you looked better than last week). You tell your daughter, who is off school with a sore throat. She says ‘Why are hospitals so stupid?’ You receive many phone calls. But what is it like?

It is like watching the light fade from a room, sunlight making patches on the house opposite, the pink tips of apple blossom daring to poke through into the same, as you have done a thousand times before. But this time you know you’ll be doing it again, next year, and probably, the year after that.

It is dreaming up something profound to say about Kylie Minogue’s post-treatment haircut, and about the newspaper coverage of it, but resisting the urge. Ditto the obituaries you read this week of the man who invented the CT scan and the man who discovered a cure for leukaemia in children. Life is too short, you tell yourself. From now on I will write what I want.

It is darting in and out of the office to check who has sent you the latest congratulatory email.

And remembering that Chelsea only need a point against United at the Bridge tomorrow to win the league.

It is feeling that you might start reading poetry again.

It is breathing in deeply on the doorstep in the sunshine, and, though it induces a coughing fit, being grateful for breath at all.

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