I have now definitely moved into a new stage with the disease. It was confirmed last week following a scan that my recent weight-loss, sickness and tiredness means what I already knew from my “gut instinct”! So I’m now off chemo, and have been “signed off” by the oncology department. Though it’s a relief not to have to go for more poisons to be pumped into my body on a regular basis, there’s also a feeling of loss in no longer trying to limit the disease. Overall the oncology unit has done a really good job, and I’m grateful to them for keeping the disease at bay for so long, and enabling me to do some amazing things over the last year.
I’m now under a palliative care team based at a hospice handily placed literally round the corner from where I live. They will help me manage the symptoms as the disease develops and help me through the latter stages of this journey. It’s been interesting listening to the debates on assisted dying, in response to Lord Falconer’s bill on the subject. I can see all sides of the arguments, but can’t help thinking that as my current good days become similar to my current not-so-good days, and my not-so-good days become worse days, then subject to discussion with family it would be a dignified and attractive option to choose to go without lingering on. I may of course feel differently when the time comes!
I’ve written before about me not living with regrets regarding the work I’ve done. I feel very fortunate that I don’t have regrets about any choices I’ve made in life. That’s not to say I don’t wonder what might have happened had I chosen a different path at various junctions along the way: but I’ve always made the choice and gone with it. The same cannot be said regarding regrets for the future! In his final days, Iain Banks wrote a list of the things he regrets he will not witness, and I thought it would be therapeutic for me to do the same. I’ve not included obvious ones relating to family and friends. And I’m doing two lists: one of those things I know I won’t witness and one of those that it’s probable I’ll miss but I’ll retain a bit of optimism! So here goes.
Things I regret I’m not going to see / do:
- the current incompetent and obnoxious government voted out of office
- Halifax Town play at Wembley
- complete the Lake District Wainwrights (this was always going to be a long shot!)
- visit Khiraule village in the Nepalese Himalayas
- Richard Branson’s family go into space (though I understand they are planning to come back)
- Trident scrapped
- England win back the Ashes
- watch an opera at La Scala
Things I regret I’m probably going to miss:
- The Grand Depart and Le Tour going through the Yorkshire Dales
- Headingley’s first Festival of Ideas that I instigated
- promoting at the Festival my idea for developing an annual car-free, cycle friendly day in Headingley
- the Scottish referendum (it’s likely to be a No vote – but even so major constitutional issues will be / are being raised that I think have the potential for a massive overhaul of British politics. I think I now favour a North of England Parliament -and of course other regions – with devolved powers and a much less powerful Westminster Parliament).
That’s it for now. I’m now focussing on getting to London this afternoon for tomorrow’s investiture, feeling humbled by the amazing efforts of family, London friends, and the palliative care team to get me there in one piece!