Cancer stories

My friend Dee died just before Christmas. Seeing her in the hospice was a shock. She just didn’t look like the person I remembered.


The first time I went to see her, she didn’t see me. She was asleep all the time. She was surrounded by relatives & friends, some had come down from Manchester to see her.


I went the next day & she was awake. At first she didn’t recognise me. But when her husband told her who I was, she did.


She asked after mutual friends. She drank water. She was dying.  I stayed, not that long.  After about an hour she went back to sleep. I had the intention of going to see her again the following Sunday. But she died on the Saturday.


Even when you know someone is about to die it isn’t easy. It doesn’t get any better.


I am not very good when people I know die. The next day I was so depressed that I stayed in bed all day.




Aggi, was the first person of my friends & acquaintances to die who was younger than me. She died of breast cancer & other complications. She was my manager at Loot. But when she became ill she had to take time off & was replaced in the department. She was more like a friend. After she became ill & had to leave she used to socialise with myself & some of my friends. She came with us to the Wigmore Hall for a concert. Everybody liked her & she seemed really quite well. But when the end came, it came quite quickly. She was a white South African. At her funeral, her brother didn’t come but there a number of black South Africans who made the long journey specially. There was more to her than meets the eye…


At BMRB, my friend & supervisor Gillian Scott, who was younger than myself, had cancer of the breast. She was a particular friend. In fact she didn’t die when I was still working there. I had in the meantime left the company to work for Loot. I used to phone up from time to time to see how she was. And from time to time in fact I used to go along to see her at work to see how she & the others I knew there were. But I can’t have done this all that often because after I decided to leave Loot & looking around for a job I thought I know I will go back to BMRB. I phoned up the company (BMRB) & asked to speak to Gillian but was told that she had died some years before.


She was a particular friend. When I worked there I did 2 jobs, half the week I worked as a dispatch rider, the other half as a market research interviewer with BMRB.


Gillian was an especially beautiful blond woman.  I particularly remember one Saturday morning sitting won working away & she came in through the window (I didn’t know it was a French window) & walking past me. I remember well a particular wave of happiness came over me.


I don’t in particular remember what her lifestyle was like but as far as I remember she didn’t do anything particularly wrong. I don’t she smoked. I seem to remember that she had three children.






I had a friend who died (time goes by so quickly that in the end I can’t exactly remember how many years ago it was but it was before my mother died & she died 3 years ago.


When I was a t Loot – as well – a woman named Eileen contracted cancer. It was breast cancer. Of course – almost. Breast cancer for women & prostate cancer for men as so prevalent that they are almost a given.


We were all shocked & sad when she contracted the disease, one always is, but we shouldn’t be because it is so prevalent.



Clive, someone I knew but not that well died about 2 years ago. I didn’t know that much about him, but, I did meet him a few times. I am not sure if he smoked or what he ate. But I do know that he drank voluminous amount of red wine. Once he was diagnosed (I can’t actually remember what kind of cancer it was he died from) it all happened quite quickly. Before he died he married his girlfriend so that she could ‘inherit’ the flat. He was much missed.


One of my uncles died of cancer some months before my father. It turned that when he finally went to the doctor he was riddled with cancer. In fact it was just after the seriousness of my father’s stroke that the seriousness of his condition was discovered.


One of my uncles, died, in 1999, 8 months before my father. Not a blood uncle, the husband of one of my aunts. It seems that he hadn’t gone to the doctor to see what was the matter until far too late. It turned out that when he finally went he was riddled with cancer & only had a few days to live. Presumably he was feeling unwell. He was old but he lived an exceptionally interesting life as a soldier during World War II, a lawyer, deputy head of the coal board under Lord Robens & a clergyman when he retired. He was decorated in the war but refused to talk about it.


Another of my friends Patricia died of cancer several years ago. Someone I knew really quite well. A person who gave up smoking & drinking several times every day. She was good company, permanently starting businesses which duly failed including an art gallery for young artists; there was some really good art there. (I am not an expert on art.) But whatever the rights & wrongs of all that the fact is that the world is a worse place without her.


 You hear about people dying of cancer all the time. You wonder.  Mo Mowlam for example. She was young – in her early fifties. I appreciate that there is no getting away from DNA etc but my motto, what I think is, why die if you don’t need to? What I am saying is this, what was her lifestyle like. Did she at some point smoke a lot of dope?

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