THE BLOG

Cancer. You Can't Escape It

08/09/2017 16:15
Clemmie Telford

Cancer affects everyone. One in two of us will get diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lives.

Whenever I need to process something tricky or seemingly insurmountable I write a list. It helps me order my thoughts. So here goes...

● If you are lucky enough to be one of the people to avoid getting cancer, someone you know will almost certainly be diagnosed with some form of the disease.

● It'd be easier to bury your head in the sand about it.

● But one way or the other, that choice of blissful ignorance is taken out of your hands.

● We lost my father-in-law to cancer six years ago. And it's impossible to articulate the ramifications.

● That fateful phone call.

● Watching your husband receiving the news that his father has cancer.

● The immediate mix of emotions: fearing the worst, but hoping for the best.

● From there the cancer happened slowly. Even in a relatively aggressive form.

● You go to bed that night as you always did. But wake up with that unconscious innate knowledge that something isn't as it was.

● And then you remember.

● But still life carries on.

● The first time you see the person that's been diagnosed they seem, well, the same. They don't look like they have cancer. They look like the same person.

● There's always a reason to stay positive.

● A milestone to look forward to.

● A person with a positive story you can to cling on to.

● And of course the potential of a breakthrough thanks to the wonderful research and work that campaigns like Cancer Research UK's Stand Up To Cancer funds.

● And so cancer seems OK.

● The effects are more a sum of lots of small parts than anything sudden, big or frightening.

● A loss of appetite here.

● A persistent cough there.

● A secret wince.

● A frailer hug.

● But then before you know it, it's taken hold.

● The brave faces are harder to maintain. Each moment more pertinent.

● Those last days of someone's life aren't something you can't easily describe.

● Sacred. Precious. Scary. Beautiful. Unforgettable.

● And then the unthinkable, 'the worst case scenario' is upon you.

● Bizarrely there is a peace in the reality of death rather than the dread of it.

● And the clichés of being glad the battle is over are very true.

● But you know the awful thing about cancer?

● Its impact is felt for long after death. Birthdays. Christmas and most of all the arrival of grandchildren that person never got to meet.

● You feel sad for you, because you miss them. You feel heartbroken for your husband for not having a father.

● But, most of all, you feel devastated for the person who was robbed of life.

● All the 'should have, would have, could haves'.

● The same old jokes they never got to tell.

● The moments they would have relished and enhanced.

● So why have I got involved with this campaign? Because I'd like to translate that sadness into a positive. Take the anger I feel on behalf of my kids, my father-in-law and my husband and turn it into a rebellion against cancer.

● Having spoken to professors, clever folks in research labs and the people working tirelessly at Cancer Research UK, I feel optimistic for the future rather than scared about the odds of diagnosis.

● They are making progress all the time, every day. All they need to continue to do it is funds from people like me and you.

● Together we have got this.

● Cancer. You can't escape it.

● Doesn't mean we will let it defeat us.



Clemmie Telford is founder of 'Mother Of All Lists', a collection of lists about parenting and more. Clemmie is supporting Stand Up To Cancer, a joint national fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 to accelerate ground-breaking cancer research and save more lives, more quickly.

To find out how you can join the rebellion against cancer visit Standuptocancer.org.uk. You can find Clemmie on Instagram here.

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