Being on a cancer ward for the first time can feel a lot like a torture camp. There are screams in the night from neighbouring rooms, sounds of retching; there are unfamiliar figures arriving with sharp instruments and toxic substances.
Like no doubt others before and after her will make very personal and difficult choices, I get the impression Lynda Bellingham managed to make peace with cancer and herself. Perhaps we need peace to make truly positive life changing and life enhancing choices, especially when they are about our death.
How come we don't know when to give up and when to keep going? What price are we willing to pay for life? Would we do whatever it takes to prolong it? Should we be allowed to determine when to stop treatment, when we or a relative become seriously ill?
It's been well documented that one of my best friends, Ross Hutchins, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma a few years ago. Ross and I had grown up together on the tennis circuit, and his diagnosis was devastating. He was treated with chemotherapy at the Royal Marsden Hospital and a year after his diagnosis, his cancer went into remission. He's now fit and well to this day - a testimony to the crucial advances we've made in cancer treatment thanks to ground-breaking research into the illness. But not everyone is so lucky. At the beginning Elena Baltacha, the former British number one, was diagnosed with cancer of the liver. She died in May, at the age of 30.
We're benefitting the medical world, whilst getting to know our own bodies better, in turn (hopefully) making them healthier - it's WIN WIN all round. Who knew sharing a womb could be so salubrious?!
I love fundraisng, I've said it once again. Love it when people do challenges to fundraise on my behalf, love arranging fundraisers, love seeing the generosity of others and love hearing about others who fundraise.
We all may resort to labelling something or somebody, when we do not know much about it, when it is a taboo, when it feels complex and difficult. Labelling can make a situation more manageable and in that way, it can help - a bit.
This cancer kills most people it strikes, often with devastating speed. While around 85% of breast and prostate cancer patients are still alive five years after diagnosis, just 20% survive as long with this cancer. Barely half survive just three years.
The research indicates that high breast density is a particularly significant risk factor, with women with the highest density up to five times more likely to develop breast cancer than those with low density.
Why do I love the NHS so much? Well the answer is obvious, it saved my life and it will have almost undoubtedly helped you at some point or another (we were all born once remember!) The NHS is a lifesaver, and I owe everything to it.
I am a scared person. But it doesn't define me. Because I am also a trustful person. A loving person. With a new capacity to enjoy wiping bottoms and screaming tantrums. Because when you think the glass might break... you are thirsty, so terribly thirsty to savour every last drop.
For many, these fears don't evaporate when they finish treatment. We spoke to post-cancer patients and found that nearly a third (30%*) felt under pressure to 'bounce back' more quickly that they would have liked after treatment. For more than a quarter (28%) the expected 'euphoria' of being given the 'all clear' was actually replaced by the fact they simply felt 'emotionally drained'.
Several incorrect media articles over the last few days have been published stating middle-aged men with a certain balding pattern are at an increased risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer than men with no baldness. Well, this is highly inaccurate in my opinion and unfortunately caused a great deal of men unnecessary anxiety and stress.
The bottom line is that cancer is not selective. The familities of both of the authors of this blog have suffered at the hands of cancer. Wrestlers, wrestling fans and those from outside the wrestling community can all be affected. Whilst the charities need support, awareness raising is crucial. So we pay tribute to WWE and their efforts during Breast Cancer Awareness Week...
She has been described as a national institution. Many of us have grown up with her, have been entertained, made to think and continue to be impressed by Lynda Bellingham's bravery. What can she teach us now at the end of her life?
Recently an 11-year-old son of a friend was killed by his mentally ill father. An ex-colleague of mine was diagnosed with cancer last November and he died in January; there were Facebook statuses and then they stopped. And now I have a tumour... My darling children, how I hope that you will not have to go through life without me!