So long, farewell and goodbye

AS Pete and Dud used to sing at the end of every show: now is the time to say goodbye. And truly, I’ve yielded a sigh writing this, my final, Topic of Cancer column.

Good health is forcing me out of a job. I can no longer legitimately write about having cancer because, today, the disease is no longer a presence in my life.

I’m loath to admit it, but it was the fact of having a life-threatening illness, and my necessarily unconventional approach to it, that gave this column its interest and value. Nearly everyone has an emotional connection with cancer, and wants to hear that it can be survived.

My views on anything else have nothing of the extraordinary about them and I won’t subject you to them from the safety of the Opinions page.

A Kiwi mate of mine, another survivor, told me this was the hardest time, because of the fear of its return. But fear was the enemy throughout this adventure and, mostly, I kept it at bay. I’m not about to let it get the upper hand now.

What about the trauma of living under a death threat? Couldn’t that be explored? Perhaps, but my reflections on the past three years are rarely morbid, and the present is all-absorbing. My over-riding thought, often still a beautiful surprise, is “I’m alive and (reasonably) healthy”.

Now it’s time to move on, to symbolically step away from cancer. Life has taken off, with jobs, house-keeping and creative challenges needing attention. I hope there’s a book in it (with sensational revelations).

I’m glad to have had the experience and, although the maxim “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” is rubbish, in my case it’s true. Much of that new strength comes from the freedom I’ve had with writing this column.

The opportunity to explore my thoughts and feelings around having the disease, and to “come out” about my addictions and personal flaws has been enormously liberating – not least because you, dear readers, continued to support me. That acceptance was a big part of my recovery and I thank you, and the Northern Star, for it. I felt the love and sought to give some back. It was wonderfully healing.

I wish you all peace and the best of health. Take care of yourselves, and each other. In an increasingly mad, scary, atomised world, every act of loving kindness is a triumph over the darkness. 

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