Ragged Clown

It's just a shadow you're seeing that he's chasing…


How do you celebrate a cancerversary?

It’s been a year since that fateful day when my doc called to tell me I had a brain tumour. How should we commemorate the occasion?

On the one hand, it was a terrible day. Why would I want to remember it at all? On the other hand, I got to spend a whole-nuther year in this wonderful life. That’s gotta be worth a celebration, right? Opinions vary.

“Most gliomas are ‘circumscribed’. Yours is diffuse, like a drop of ink in a glass of water.”

I never had an official expiry date (I never asked) but everyone I know who had a brain tumour died quite quickly. I expected the same and yet here I am still. When I thought the number of my days were few, I felt compelled to tell my story to anyone who would listen but some bad experiences made me doubt this strategy.

Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched
With a woeful agony,
Which forced me to begin my tale;
And then it left me free.

Since then, at an uncertain hour,
That agony returns:
And till my ghastly tale is told,
This heart within me burns.

I pass, like night, from land to land;
I have strange power of speech;
That moment that his face I see,
I know the man that must hear me:
To him my tale I teach.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

There was one time when I had just come back from a consultation with the surgeon and my friends took me to the Broken Dock for a debrief and a friend-of-a-friend tagged along. I was in mid-story when friend-of-a-friend interrupted to ask what we were talking about. When I explained, she ran screaming from the restaurant.

[epilogue: I later learned that her husband had just died of a brain tumour and her emotions were still raw. We had a coffee together a few days later and we swapped stories. We both cried and we both felt better.]

Another time, I told my story to my favourite barmaid at my favourite pub and she just broke down crying. I felt so selfish for putting the weight on her. After that, I stopped telling people unless they asked. Mrs Clown thinks I don’t need to tell anyone unless they are close. I like telling my story though. Like the Ancient Mariner, telling my story helps me to process it and lifts some of the weight of the albatross from my neck.

‘Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!’

As my cancerversary approached I felt the pressure of the story bursting up out of my chest but I had no one to tell so I kept it inside. It couldn’t stay there forever so here I am. If you are close, you probably know the story already. If you are new to my adventure, you can read more about it here. I’m always happy to tell my story again if you want to know more.

Anyway. It’s an important question: How does one celebrate a cancerversary? I chose to spend it drinking sangria at the beach with my lovely wife.

¡Otra jarra de sangría por favor!