It feels strange having cancer

I’m not sure how I should be feeling having cancer, because I feel great. Sure, I might be getting older and bits of me creak a bit more than they used to, but it feels most strange having cancer when in fact I feel so well. I am feeling pretty positive, and if I am lucky they will get rid of this bastard disease via an operation, but at the end of the day I have to be realistic and accept that I have a disease which could kill me if lady luck ain’t with me. I bloody hope not, I really do, but try as I might I can’t stick my head in the sand and hope I wake up the next morning with all the bad stuff magically gone. My youngest girl so sweetly asks me every morning how my cancer is, to the point where we tend to giggle now about how it sadly doesn’t disappear like that!!

One thing I am categorically not doing is beating myself up with thinking about why on earth this is happening to me. It’s skin cancer, I’ve got it, and I can’t go back over my life and wonder if I did something wrong. I don’t live like that. Ironically perhaps I am probably the most careful out of anybody I fish with about sun protection, but life is what it is and I have been dealt this particular card. It was most likely due to the sun but it could just be the fact that I’ve got cancer and it happens to be of the skin variety - which is a pretty common and treatable form of cancer.

I will admit to a few rather early mornings where I imagine what it would be like to walk into a hospital room a few weeks after the operation to be told sorry Mr Gilbey but you’ve got so and so long to live because the cancer’s gone everywhere. This is not going to happen, or at least I am in with every chance of this not happening, but when you are faced with even a sniff that your life could in fact end before your allotted time (whatever that may be), well it doesn’t half get you thinking about stuff. At the same time though, I feel pretty positive and things are moving as regards for meeting surgeons, going for operations etc. I can’t pretend that the not knowing/waiting is any easier, but I’m getting on with things although there is this dark shadow that sits in the corner of my mind and won’t sod off. And yes, I have looked at the bit on my leg and considered getting my old Swiss Army penknife out and having a crack at getting the cancer out myself, here at my desk. A couple of plasters should sort it all out and then I could nip out fishing for a few hours.

A big reason for trying to stay so strong about all this is to do my absolute best to help my wife and girls through it all. We talk about it and we don’t shy away from what is happening, and every morning over breakfast I reassure my girls that dad is going to be just fine and life will carry on as normal, but try as I might I can’t give them a cast-iron guarantee and they pick up on this. They are bright girls and they know about what has happened to their grandfather this year with his own cancer battles and quite frankly being bloody lucky to still be here, but now their own dad’s got cancer it has given them the odd wobble. Life is busy and there’s stacks going on, but I just wish I could take this stuff away from them and deal with it on my own so that it didn’t cause them any pain at all. I can’t though, and I consider myself an incredibly lucky man with the family I have. And as for Storm our sheepdog, well as long as she gets her three walks a day she’s just fine.

I believe in being open about what is going on and I have been incredibly touched by so many kind messages of support. Thank you, thank you. Honestly, I can’t believe how so many people have kindly reached out, but I also recognise that by being open about my cancer I could perhaps make a few people feel a bit uncomfortable or awkward talking to me about things. Some people find it very hard to talk about this sort of stuff and that’s never a problem, but my way is to talk and also to find something somewhere to laugh about. I don’t want to make anybody feel uncomfortable, indeed I understand completely if many of you don’t want to read these cancer based blog posts and would rather come back when I am yapping about fishing, but if you have been in this sort of situation yourself then I wonder if communicating about it helped you as much as it helps me. None of this is my fault and I refuse to brush it under the carpet like it’s not really happening. I want to stick around for as long as I can and I will fight with all my strength against this bastard cancer. I am meeting the surgeon in a week and half and then he will give me a slot for an operation. In that meeting I shall of course be asking what the realistic timeframe is for getting back out fishing, and if it was blowing SW3 to 4 and the water was lovely and green the day after the operation, whether he could stitch/bind/whatever the wounds that little bit tighter so I could get out there fishing. You all have a good weekend. Tell your family how much you love them and draw strength from those around you. My profound thanks again for so many kind messages of support.