Earlier this week twitter was mourning the fact that Steve Hewlett had passed away after a very public encounter with cancer. I’ll be honest, I’ve only caught snippits of the interviews he gave on radio 4. Maybe I should listen more. But what I saw from the tweets and mentions of him was a tribute that his fellow BBC journalist, Nick Robinson had written
Since becoming public about my current brush with cancer I’ve received a lot of well wishes, a few comments from people who think I should keep this shit private, and about a billion people calling me brave and strong. Which I know is there way of expressing how they see it, but this isn’t how I see it, and is why, when I read this note it really resonated with the way I feel.
Because I’m not brave. Or strong. I’m not fighting a battle. I’m not. I promise you. I’m not doing one tiny thing different to what I hope every single one of you out there would do if you were faced with this too.
Having chemo doesn’t make me brave. It’s unfeasibly pragmatic for me. It means I’ve thought about my future and I’m cutting the % of the cancer returning down by a massive chunk. Not bursting into tears* every 5 minutes over this and talking about it openly, doesn’t make me strong. It means I need to be talking about this for my sanity and I want to share all this to help and inform people if they should end up in this situation. Or just so they have a better understanding. So they’re a bit more informed. And it gives me an outlet which gives Jim a break from my moaning. Of which there has been a lot. Ask him. I’m sure he’ll fess up to what a pain in the bum I am.
If, and God forbid it does, cancer pops up in the lives of any of my friends, I’d be mighty disappointed in them if they chose any other course of action to the one I’m taking. Having treatment is sensible. Nothing more. If they start trying to cure whatever ails them with kale then they can be sure I’ll be trying to have them committed for their own good!
So this is why I’ve been very careful with the words on my social bios. I’ve tried to steer clear of using the phrase ‘fighting’ or ‘battling’ because I’m not.
I fight with my skinny jeans in the morning. I fight with Flash and Melle over toys and dirty socks and what time they should get their breakfast. I fight with Jim over stupid little things like what belongs in the dishwasher. But sitting on a bed, turning away whilst my nurses stick needles in me, that’s not a fight. I can’t even face the sight of my own blood! Trust me, I’d be rubbish in a real battle!
So whilst I’m not trying to offend anyone who has called me brave or strong, I know you probably think what I’m doing is that. I’m just setting the record straight as to why I might wrinkle my nose when you say it my face or brush your social media comment under the rug a little. It’s mostly because I thats not how I feel.
I’m just doing exactly what I should be doing to, selfishly, stay alive, only I’m complaining about it a bit too much on social media.
*oddly I’ve only cried a few times, which quite frankly is a miracle, given I cry at tv ads these days but you try telling your mum you have cancer and not crying. I hope you never have to try!