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  • Writer's pictureAustin Birks

Two Fat Ladies Click Click Click, Dose 88 of Chemotherapy

I used to enjoy playing Bingo once upon a time in this strange and wonderful world that I have lived in for 63 years. It was a different dimension. Back then I was a young father in my mid- thirties, we had a great life, a beautiful daughter, a nice home in a very pretty village deep in rural Worcestershire. Yes, life was good, we also had a very nice static caravan in Borth in a caravan park called Brynrodyn, with wonderful views that overlooked the sea.

The sands on the beach were long and golden and I used to often reflect that these were the very same beaches that dad used to play on when he was a young child. Indeed, my grand mother Gladys Williams was one of the first women ever to get a scholarship at Aberystwyth University in 1917, so for me, I always felt very welcome and comfortable in this little paradise, on the west coast of Wales, with next stop the USA.

The culture of the camp was rotated around the social club where every Saturday before the official entertainment would begin, there would be the obligatory Bingo. The serious contenders would, of course, bring their very own blogger pens to mark the card. The bingo caller would shout out every week the very same numbers followed by their legendary quote, two fat ladies: 88.

And as I was sat last Wednesday in the Rigby unit of Stratford hospital, with the other cancer patients, I realised that my next chemo treatment was indeed number 88. Did I ever think back in the day when I was playing Bingo, and occasionally having a go at the Karaoke with my emotionally charged rendition of Tom Jones Delila, that one day I would be sat where I was being pumped up to the eyeballs with strong chemicals designed to save my life.

Absolutely not, because when you are in the peak of your life you never stop to think, after all why should you, the concept of illness and indeed death is a life time away, although on reflection it is also literally a heart beat away, to be fair since my diagnosis in September 2018, I honestly do not think that I have ever thought to myself why did I get cancer? Is it fair? Did I do something wrong? All questions that I have heard others ask themselves. Personally I just never saw the point, after all what good does it serve, cancer is a lottery it can happen to anyone. After all its your own body turning traitor and altering your DNA is not something that you plan, it just does in its own Zen like crazy way.

There was a new chap on the ward on Wednesday. It was his first treatment and he looked very nervous, and why would not he, the nurse who cared from him was magnificent, over the years she has like many of the others become a good friend of mine. She talked him through everything and for me it was fascinating to listen too as I had forgotten what the start of the journey was like.

Slowly as the hours wore on he soon seemed to calm down and settle into the new norm, the reality is that what you think it will be like is not really anywhere near as bad as you might think. Yes a needle in the hand the classic “slight scratch” and that is it, yes other treatments have other things that can hurt a tad but its over in seconds and off you jolly well go.

Yes of course there are some nasty side effects as these blogs have consistently highlighted but as ever you can and you will manage if you believe enough, because belief my dear friends is key to living a life that is rich and full and varied and full of love and beauty, you just need to keep looking for it.

So, I look forward to the next adventure and there will be many I assure you and if things carry on as they are I should meet my 100th dose of Chemo by October. Time indeed to celebrate with a wee party to say thank you to all of those wonderful people who have kept me alive I will drink to that.

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