"Today I take my usual fortnightly trip to the local hospital to receive my blood transfusion following a twenty four hour scare and an emergency admission yesterday. I shall have to remain masked today. My body is in a 'catch 22' situation. Under normal circumstances I am probably too ill to have today's transfusion, but I need the increased body energy that the transfusion gives to fend off the pneumonia and to give the strong antibiotics chance to work. Each night my temperature almost reaches 39c and by the morning it has lowered to 38c. Self admittance to the hospital is supposedly 38c, but I'd be in more than out were I to strictly follow those guidelines. By mid afternoon it usually goes down to 37.5.
Over the past months, I have gradually had to readjust to the reality of the many changes that I am going to have to incorporate into my future life, from a cold upwards.
When one gets older, most change is usually resisted or resented. While this is a natural process to experience, having a terminal illness is a sure-fire way of teaching one that only through adaption to changing times can one continue to live at all.
A gradual depletion of the body's oxygen levels coupled with increased immobility of limbs and a reduction of heart functioning uses up the reduced amount of energy that is now available to me at a faster rate. The obvious effect of this is that I walk less and tire more easily. Hence, my need to choose wisely what I do has never been more important to me.
When one is unable to do everything one would like to do, choosing what one does takes on a new dimension and added meaning. When one's time to do the things one has to do is lessened, 'wasting time' becomes an experience that is ill-afforded and is just one more of those idle luxuaries to be avoided.
If only I had come to this lately-aquired knowledge at the start of my life instead of towards its end, just imagine what a life I might have had and what disappointment I would have avoided. I would never have wasted one second on ever harming or hurting another and I would never have used one breath of my lungs on cursing, defaming, deriding or bearing false witness; now knowing that I would have been expending breath and energy needlessly and without benefit to me or anyone else in the process. Instead, I would have shouted from the roof tops more often about the injustices of society I could clearly see and I would have been much louder in my protestations of the discrimination that surrounded me.
Also, I would have gone to all those places that my body could have taken me to, walked all those roads and highways that were there for the walking and done all those things that my mind dreamed of and my body-energy levels physically made possible to do.
I would have generally got out more and met even more people than I did meet, because only in this way might I have become acquainted with more people who 'are like myself' as opposed to being friend and companion to 'those people I like.'
Over the past year, at least once every two, three or four weeks, I have spent seven or eight hours of my day in the cancer ward of the local hospital with approximately two dozen cancer patients who are are being treated on day care. These numbers are but a fraction of the total number of people being treated for cancer related conditions every year and each visit I make, I invariably meet a room filled with new faces.
Some cancer comrades are young adults, some middle aged and some are old, but we all share one thing in common. Most of us are each being treated for a terminal condition and for the overwhelming majority of us, we are having to face the consequences of dying at some future date under circumstances that none of us would have ever chosen. However, there are a good number of cancer patients being treated who will experience full remission and the resumption of a more normal life span. When the news of any success reaches the monthly group, it brings joy to the hearts of all present.
In spite of the seriousness and gravity of our situations, it is quite apparent from the nature of the discussions I have with some patients while I have a few pints that we are all making much better use of our time we now daily use. This past year has brought me into contact with a group of people, whom under normal circumstances I would never have met and who I am so grateful for having crossed paths with; people like me who walk the road that I now walk. I won't pretend that we are all the same in character, thought or deed, but we have all been brought together to share the same journey and similar experience as comrades in cancer advancement as we each join the research programmes.
Apart from the people I have been privileged to meet over the past year, I now briefly mention those people I will never meet, however long left I have to live, because of a change in present government policy.
It has recently been announced that on April 2015, twenty five cancer drugs are to be denied on the NHS to new patients on the grounds of 'cost alone.' Charities have expressed outrage as the NHS announced plans to stop funding these drugs that are known to extend lives significantly in both length and quality for many kinds of cancer sufferers, including those for breast, prostate and bowel disease. As a consequence of this drug withdrawal, eight thousand cancer patients are likely to have their lives cut short annually.
While there is little that can be be done for my own future that is not already being done by the doctors and hospital staff who deserve my highest of praise for their unflinching dedication, there is something that can be done for a definite eight thousand people next year by anyone who is prepared to speak out about such cruel change and the crushed hopes it will bring in its wake. Demand from your MP and the Government that it opens its coffers to all those dying of cancer whose lives can be sometimes saved or greatly extended in both duration and quality, instead of abandoning them to the wolves of world economics.
It is time to ring fence adequate funds for the treatment of cancer when it has been proven that the drugs which are being withdrawn to new patients will undoubtedly shorten their lives. The chancellor, George Osborne recently announced with pride that Great Britain was the only country in the world to hit the target of 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) this year when we gave £11.3bn in overseas aid. While at face value, this grand gesture made by David Cameron's government seems magnificent, it is in effect vainglorious and is only being vigorously pursued I fear to enable him to strut bountifully on the world stage.
He is giving much of the money to third-world countries that often finds its way to corrupt politicians and hardly ever reaches poor folk, besides also annually increasing our aid to India, a country that is known to possess its own weapons of mass destuction and adds to their nuclear arsenal annually, thanks to our country's silly policies. India even announced its own space programme in 2014. Surely a small decrease in our world aid contribution could be given to worthier causes like funding effective cancer drugs for our own people. But he will not hear of this even though officials in the Indian Government has told him quite clearly, 'We don't want or need your charity' " William Forde: March 4th, 2015.