Yes, we are all individuals!

Josh Friedman’s recent article for Time, “It’s Okay to Be a Coward About Cancer“, is an interesting piece about the language that surrounds the disease. It’s written from the perspective of someone who has experienced cancer for himself. In it, he takes issue with the dominant interpretative repertoires (*) of “fighting” and “surviving” the disease.

When I was first diagnosed with MCL, I initially adopted positions from the “fighting” repertoire. After all, it seems the logical thing to do. No-one wants to die from cancer – and not many people want to die,  ever! “Fighting” is how I perceived that the majority of people were talking about the disease, and I started to talk about it in that way too.

However, over time, I started to think of myself as being more of a survivor than fighter. This was because I found it difficult to declare war on my own body, regardless of its faults. But even that phase didn’t last long. These days, given my current non-treatment status, I feel more comfortable with the idea that I’m “living” with the condition rather than fighting or surviving it. My twitter and facebook biographies have reflected this progression over the last three years since my diagnosis.

While understanding and respecting Josh’s position, I think that rejecting the dominant fighting and surviving repertoires as cowardice undersells his own strength. Coming to terms with cancer by rejecting the culturally dominant discourses is definitely not cowardice. Taking a position against what the majority believe to be commonsense is always hard.

I wish him and all other cancer patients well, regardless of their approach to coming to terms with the disease and their own mortality. After all, in the words of Brian, “You are all individuals, you don’t need to follow anybody!”

 

(*) For those of you who aren’t discursive psychologists, interpretative repertoires provide commonsense and relatively coherent ways of talking about a topic, providing a basis for shared understandings to be reached. They are culturally and historically situated – for example, it is unlikely that a Victorian would have talked about cancer in the same way as a citizen of the 21st century.

760 years of the Seven

OK, so I know the event last weekend at Donington Park celebrated 60, rather than 760 years of the Seven, but it’s how I keep reading the logo. Sorry.

760 years of the Seven

760 (?!) years of the Seven – souvenir programme

In the end I only managed to attend the Friday evening event and joined a run out to Bakewell on the Saturday morning, but very enjoyable it all was. Even the queueing on Friday evening was a great (if a probably unintended) way to break the ice with fellow enthusiasts. I’d like to thank and congratulate the organisers from the Lotus 7 Club – you did an excellent job looking after so many people and their cars.

Friday evening’s event was held in the Donington Collections Museum. It had been some time since I’d last looked around it. The overwhelming impression you get is that they desperately need more space to do full justice to the exhibits. Even so, it’s a fascinating place and the normal entrance fee of £12 for an adult is a bargain.

F1 collection

Just a few cars from the museum’s enormous F1 collection

A Hesketh and a Lola

A Hesketh and Lola displaying some, well, very 1970s sponsorship

Saturday morning saw me return to Donington and join a run out to Bakewell. Unfortunately, as I was too busy looking at the route book and strapping myself in, I headed off last and spent the first few miles of the run playing catch-up. Through a fortuitous piece of satnav lunacy (I took a wrong turning), I eventually caught up with the pack just outside Hulland Ward.

I see you!

I see you!

The weather was perfect and after a brief stop outside Bakewell Showground I had to leave the group and head back home to join the rest of the family for a theatre trip. That was brilliant too (The play that goes wrong, as you’re asking) – even though there wasn’t a Seven in sight.

The gnu and friends at Bakewell

The gnu and friends at Bakewell

I missed all of Sunday as I needed to head ‘up North’ for work. I’m now looking forward to the 70th anniversary. I promise not to double book myself then …

Good news – and looking forward to playtime!

Hurrah! The good news on Wednesday morning was that my white blood cell (neutrophil) count was just above the minimum for “normal” adults for the first time in three tests. This would suggest that my bone marrow is hanging on in there after all. I’m therefore back on the watch and wait routine until September, assuming that nothing out of the ordinary happens.

My medical team remains of the opinion that I’m in the luckier 15% of people with MCL as it’s still behaving indolently rather than aggressively three years after diagnosis. There’s still no evidence to suggest that my survival prospects would be improved by taking the chemotherapy option sooner rather than later. I’m happy with that – but there’s a little voice nagging in my head telling me that if we really knew how to treat MCL, it wouldn’t be so. Some lifestyle changes – not taking on too much physically and mentally – also seem to be helping with the tiredness I sometimes feel.

This weekend marks the 60th anniversary of the Lotus 7 and the owner’s club have a celebration weekend at Donington Park. I’m going as it’s nearby and I’m looking forward to it. Something tells me the gnu is also looking forward to the event – you can see the gleam in his eyes headlamps.

Is it playtime yet?

Is it playtime yet?

Little darlings: Dealing with watch and wait anxiety

I’m three days away from my regular watch and wait appointment at the hospital, and I’m panicking again. Last time my white blood cell count was low, so I was “promised” another bone marrow biopsy if it hadn’t moved back closer to normal this time. They’re not fun. I can feel myself coming over all unnecessary as I contemplate the prospect. To try to distract myself, I’ve therefore spent the day doing two things I’ve really enjoyed.

This morning I took the gnu (or he took me, not quite sure which!) out along the roads to Carsington Reservoir and back. I even had time to pull into the visitor centre for coffee. That was just after he’d found an impressive turn of speed to overtake a couple of vehicles alongside the dam. There’s clearly nothing wrong with his fuel and exhaust system, unlike that of his driver. He’s a little darling.

Carsington Reservoir

Carsington Reservoir, as seen from the coffee shop

The gnu at Carsington

The gnu, as seen in the car park

The second was being taken on a date to see “Despicable Me 3” this afternoon. Like Mark Kermode I think that the minions can do no wrong. They’re little darlings. Watching them perform the Major-General’s song from The Pirates of Penzance was definitely the highlight of the movie for me. But I admit that I also found the fart gag before the film even started funny. Is that wrong? I even managed to put up with a little shit darling constantly kicking the back of my seat with something approaching good grace. If you were sat in Derby’s Intu Showcase, screen 2, row F, seat 5 for the 1700 screening, it’s you that I’m talking about. Don’t do it again. Ever. The next person you do it to might not be as reasonable as I was. Or enjoying the film as much. Or both.

That was my Sunday. Only three more sleeps until the watch and wait anxiety dissipates again.