I’m sitting in the cafe of the Macmillan Cancer Centre while Chris picks up a prescription for me back at UCLH, processing what I’ve just been told: halfway through chemo, a lot of my cancer has been killed off.
Processing isn’t usually my style. I didn’t process my original Diagnosis of Doom, I just heard it and went from there. But today calls for processing.
I have that song by the Black Crowes in my head, particularly the chorus which talks about leading horse to water but faith being another matter: “Sometimes salvation, in the eye of the storm.” I wrote a vampire story for Barbara Hambly once, called “Sometimes Salvation.” That’s different. Of course, you could think of cancer as a sort of vampire. But I digress.
Right after I was diagnosed, I told some friends: “There’s really only one privilege and it is: your life.” Perhaps there are some people who would disagree with me or think that’s easy for me to say because I’m white. But where there’s life, there’s hope––I know, it’s an old chestnut but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s trite.
When you get a Diagnosis of Doom, you can’t buy your way out of it, you can’t bribe your way out of it, you can’t get your friends to get together to throw it out on the street. Cancer is no respecter of colour, origin, sexual persuasion, or religious faith. If you could see the waiting area at the Macmillan clinic, you would see people who have all become the same colour, the same age, the same family. We all have the same expression on our faces: hope mixed with pain. And when one of us comes out of a doctor’s office smiling, we all smile back. We are together; we wish each other well.
Sometimes salvation, in the eye of the storm.