Day 23: The Checkup

Every six months I travel to a local hospital to have my brain scanned by a loud machine.

Every six months I travel to a local hospital to have my brain scanned by a loud machine.

Called an MRI scanner (which stands for Magnetic resonance imaging), it provides an image of my brain tumour for my cancer team to analyse.

Ever since my original diagnosis in the summer of 2012, every six months I have had these checkups to see if my brain cancer has got worse.

This is all a bit nerve-wracking, broadly similar to waiting for exam results (really important exam results), but thankfully I have managed to get used to it.

After venturing into a clinical room, I wait for two of my cancer team to break me the news.

The first set of results in 2012 showed some shrinkage of the tumour and ever since they have been ‘stable’, much to my relief.

Despite the positive news so far, I remain fully aware that one day the news might not be so good, which is why it remains essential that we have a well-functioning NHS (are you listening Jeremy Hunt?) and smarter cancer research.

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Links

Days 10-22: AWOL

Eleven days of absence from a cancer fundraising campaign doesn’t sound too good does it?

Shut Happens

Eleven days of absence from a cancer fundraising campaign doesn’t sound too good does it?

But when you have cancer in your brain, some kind of weird intestinal issue going on and severe headaches for a couple of days, it kind of knocks you out of your stride.

So, although my fundraising efforts for Marie Carie’s Daffodil campaign have taken a blow, there are still 8 days left to raise some money for a great cause.

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Reading list:

 

Day 9: Unsung Hero

Today I was deeply saddened to read of the death of George Martin, the music producer who came to be known as the ‘fifth Beatle’.

Today it was deeply sad to read of the death of George Martin, the music producer known as the ‘fifth Beatle’.

That unofficial title was not an exaggeration, as he was fundamental to The Beatles albums and subsequent global success.

Although not alive when the iconic group were active, they were – and still are – one of the key musical acts of my lifetime.

From their early pop singles to their later rock albums, they helped shape post-war popular music but also remain an enduring influence on successive generations.

George Martin, with his background in classical music and radio comedy, turned out to be the perfect foil for the four young men from Liverpool.

His passing at age 90 is a cause for mourning and yet he lived an extraordinary life, producing 30 number-one singles in the UK and 23 in the US, numerous Grammys and Lifetime achievement awards.

Paul McCartney left this tribute on Facebook earlier today:

Paul McCartney Facebook Tribute


Playlist/Reading

Day 8: Podcasts

Back in the early 2000s a new audio format emerged that at first baffled me, then intrigued me and then became part of my life.

Back in the early 2000s a new audio format emerged that at first baffled me, then intrigued me and then became part of my life.

Radio has been an important part of my life since the late 80s when I would listen to music, live sport and even film reviews on Radio 2 (many years later I would be doing just that job).

As technology improved over the decades and allowed users to have a powerful computer in their pocket (MP3 players and then smartphones), audio wasn’t just restricted to radios, CDs and tapes.

When the BBC conducted a trial to put radio shows online as podcasts (like Radio 4’s In Our Time and Five Live’s Mark Kermode’s film reviews) it felt like an audio revolution was brewing.

Today you can listen to all kinds of content: comedians in their garage interviewing the US President (Marc Maron), Private Eye in audio form (Page 94), and outstanding long form radio documentaries (Radio 4’s Germany: Memories of a Nation).

Whilst it is true that a lot of podcasts still rely on repurposed content from ‘old media’, a lot have launched independently and the costs of entry are lower than starting a radio station.

Having cancer is incredibly isolating and when I go out for my daily walks, it is good to have a podcast to keep me company.

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Playlist

  • Real Time with Bill Maher, Episode 379 (HBO Podcasts)
  • Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000), AMC/Freeview on BT

Day 7: The Night Owl

Ever since an early age I have been a night owl.

Ever since an early age I have been a night owl.

Whilst there are many pleasures to be had in the daytime, I simply function better at night.

Maybe it is genetic, maybe I dislike the 9-5 working pattern but for whatever reason the night-time suits me.

When I went out on my daily walk around 8pm it felt like my brain was just getting into gear.

The music coming through my headphones felt more alive, the stars above me were breathtaking and, although it was cold, the oxygen going into my lungs was intoxicating.

It reminded me of many night-time habits I’ve had:

  • Sitting at the top of the stairs late on a Sunday night as a 7-year-old, just to listen to the sound of the opening credits to The South Bank Show.
  • Doing homework in my teens so late into the night, that I heard milk floats whirring outside my bedroom window.
  • Listening to night time radio shows – and later working on them!
  • Staying up to watch late night movies on TV (a habit I retain).

I remember feeling odd or strange for a few years until I came across a book called ‘Acquainted With The Night‘ by Canadian author Christopher Dewdney.

A fascinating read, it explores the ‘dark half of the day’, and the lives of many famous night owls, including Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill and James Joyce.

When people are young, they are often afraid of the dark but if you do have night-time tendencies, it might be worth exploring them instead of being alarmed by them.

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Playlist

  • Music: “Gone” by M83 from Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts
    (Gooom, 2003)
  • Reading: Knowledge is Beautiful by David McCandless (William Collins, 2014)