Movember is almost upon us again, raising money for men’s health in general and prostate cancer in particular.
We shall once again be participating at work and I would encourage those of you with the ability to grow the requisite facial adornment to take part too.
So expect all manner of fabulous face fungus to start appearing on a top lip near you soon.
You can donate here.
Which brings me rather neatly to the topic of this Diary entry.
Once again I am writing in response to a post by the ever-reliable Adam Pain who has bestowed a great accolade on me. More about that later…
First I’d like to share an expanded version of the comment I left on Adam’s blog this morning, the subject of which is losing loved ones to cancer;
I clearly remember my brother in law turning up on the doorstep at our new home in Devon at 4.30am, having driven the 300 miles from the London hospital where Dad had been taken after collapsing at a business function due to the unseen and spreading tumours in his lungs, brain and spine.
We raced back there, thinking we might be too late, getting there just as he regained consciousness.
As it turned out, he lasted long enough to be given the news that my sister was pregnant with his grandson and for us all to have a last chance to say goodbye.
Seeing the rapid and merciless way the cancer had devoured his usually imposing frame, it was hard to believe this was the same upbeat and positive man who had told me “Oh, don’t you worry, we’re going to beat this” only a few weeks previously.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t my first taste of dealing with the most indiscriminate of killers.
I was just nine when Mum was struck down by a brain tumour, forever leaving me with the image of her dropping to the floor in convulsions, incoherently repeating a bizarre litany made up entirely of numbers.
A frightening experience for a little boy, as you can imagine.
But not as frightening as the look on Dad’s face a few short months later (which with hindsight I now know to have been helpless grief) as he came into my room and, kneeling next to my bed as I roused myself from sleep, told me that he was sorry, but mummy had “just got weaker and weaker, until she couldn’t hold on any more and she died.”
He was sorry.
As if he could have done anything to save this wonderful, gentle woman from the treacherous mutation of her own cells.
Even now the irrational, impotent anger I feel towards the nebulous and malign enemy who took my mother from my sister and I can return unbidden, when I see her in old photos or hear a song she liked on the radio.
She didn’t smoke, she had an active, healthy lifestyle, and yet she was just as helpless to defend herself against this attack from within as any twenty-a-day tobacco fiend.
We were all lucky enough to have a final, carefree French camping holiday with her in the months following her initial illness and operation, when it all seemed like some sort of terrifying bad dream, only to lose her to subsequent complications when the tumour returned.
So many people’s lives are touched by cancer, hardly anybody is unaffected in some way.
Elaine and I spent many days caring for Elaine’s father (with the help of the extremely dedicated Macmillan nurses) as he became increasingly ill, his eventual passing being all the more painful for Elaine as we were so far away at the time.
And we lost a very dear friend only a few years ago who was, shockingly, younger than me and had always instantly been the absolute life and soul of every party she walked into.
Cancer doesn’t give a toss who it takes, it doesn’t care about your feelings. We’re all potential victims and should therefore take whatever opportunities are offered to join the fight to defeat the silent killer.
Well I’ve done a fair bit in the past to raise money for charity (although like all those saintly celebrities, “I don’t like to talk about it”) and I’m about to get involved in something just as worthy, but a lot more fun than lumbering around the moors in the middle of the night or dressing up like a gay Native American at work.
I am incredibly honoured to reveal that I am to be attending the Golden Face Palms, Adam Pain’s award ceremony for the über-numpties that spoilt everyone’s year by stubbornly continuing to exist.
The deal is that I go to the event, (ticket details to follow – you too can attend this prestigious occasion) accept the award for the particular dullard I nominated for inclusion, and mumble a few short words of acceptance through the haze of alcohol, jostling paparazzi and groupies. (at least I’m reasonably sure that’s how these things go) and try not to fall over on the way back to my table.
Adam has written a very poignant and touching article to accompany the announcement of the ceremony and I would take it as a personal favour if, having taken the time read my post, you also go to A World Of Pain via THIS REALLY BIG, OBVIOUS LINK and see what he has to say.
That is where you can find details of the Golden Face Palms themselves.
(You can also donate to the Macmillan Cancer Care Trust via the Macmillan link above)