It hurts tonight.  Right across the side of my throat and neck where the lump is, and up the side of my face past my right ear.

I’ve taken my painkillers – but they don’t seem to be kicking in.  At least, not yet.  I was surviving on soluble paracetamol and codeine, but then the doctor gave me something called Tramadol.  It’s supposed to be stronger, but I can’t say I’ve really noticed.

I tried to go to bed an hour ago in the hope that I could sleep it off.  No such luck.  I just couldn’t get comfortable, no matter how I tossed and turned.  So, I’m up again.

When it feels like this, I’m reminded just how bad my situation is.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it could be a lot worse.  The doctors say they have caught the cancer reasonably early, and before it has spread too far.

But that doesn’t change the fact that, as I sit here, I have one of the deadliest diseases known to man inside my head!

Just think about that for a second.

I carry this thing around with me, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – inside my skull.  I provide it with a warm, moist environment in which to survive, grow and feed.

I’m feeding this bastard!  This monster inside my own head.

Does it have a plan?  I assume that, if it were to be left unchecked, that it would continue to spread – but does it decide where to go next, or does it just take the path of least resistance?

I’m terrified it will reach my brain.

And that’s not such a leap, considering it already shares the same container as my grey matter.

I wish I could reach inside and just rip it out.

I suppose that’s what surgery is, in the end.  A controlled way of ripping the beast out from inside me.  But my growth is already too big to be operated on.  I wonder if it knows that.

I wonder if it feels safe.

But, of course, it’s not safe.  At some point within the next ten days, it will be under attack from both radiotherapy and chemotherapy.  Or, to be more exact, we both will.  Attacking just the cancer alone would be like trying to fry an egg while leaving the shell intact.

I’m a shell.

I protect this f*cking thing from harm.

The radio waves will have to pass through me to get to this thing.  The chemicals will have to scour the inside of my body, searching for it.

It’s going to hurt, and I’m scared.

Really scared.

I’ve tried to stay calm and not admit that to anyone, but it’s true.  I’m just as terrified of the treatment as I am of the disease it will try to eradicate.

Will the cancer be scared, too?

Once it is under attack, will any kind of self-preservation kick in?  Even on the most basic level, all living organisms want to stay that way – alive.  Is it any different for living organisms we don’t like?

This sounds mad, and maybe it’s the effect of the painkillers talking here, but they say babies in the womb can pick up on the feelings and emotions of their mothers.  Will this be the same?

Is this thing my baby?

Time and time again, people have told me to stay positive, and not to give in.  Positive thinking is the key.  I will beat the cancer.  I must beat the cancer.

If it had independent thought, would the cancer be thinking the same thing about the treatment I’m about to undergo?

I wonder what colour it is.

I really don’t want to know, but ridiculous questions like that keep popping into my head.

You know – the head I now share with another living entity.

I know I could Google it and see plenty of pictures of various forms of cancer, but I can’t imagine anything worse, to he honest.  That would terrify me to a degree I don’t even want to think about.

I tried to joke about it today.  I told my wife that it wasn’t cancer, but a second brain developing.  An internal back-up drive where I could dump random knowledge, leaving space in my main brain for new story ideas.

We laughed at that.  Together.

We laughed at the cancer inside my head.

The Man With Two Brains

Damn, this thing hurts!

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  1. Talk! Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Online support groups, hospital based support groups–get these thoughts out of your head (unless you think the thoughts will scare the cancer!).

    Be scared. Be worried. Be freaked but you are bigger than the cancer. You are pushing in on it more than it is pressing into you. It is spreading randomly. You are leading a focused attack.

    Pain stinks. Do they teach LaMaze over there? It’s for childbirth but I have used it when I’ve had other pain. It works. It confuses your brain. Try *everything*.

    Sending soothing thoughts your way.


  2. I can’t begin to imagine what you must be going through, but thanks to this blog, I’m starting to realise what sort of terrifying journey you are on. Keep strong Tommy. I met you once, years ago and you were so funny, telling tales about your camping trips with your family. You were hilarious! You still are, but just in a very scary place at the moment! You can do this Tommy! You’ve got the love and respect of thousands of people. I hope the Tramadol kick in soon. Sending virtual hugs X


  3. Dear Tommy,

    Reading this blog post brings back some memories. Exactly fifteen years I ago I was in hospital, laying at the IC-ward (not that I knew that at that moment) and I could not move. I had just woken up. I couldn’t move, could not talk, couldn’t not tell anyone I wanted to leave. They told me I almost died because of the medical test I’ve had, and that I had been in a coma for a week and that I had a tube in my throat so that I could breath.
    I tried to figure out the date, for some reason that was very important to me. But I couldn’t figure it out, it was like wandering around in a twilight zone. That terrified me só much and I thought ‘O my God, I am now mentally retarded’. I felt utterly alone, and terrified, so absolutely terrified. They told me, too, to stay positive (‘yeah right, just let me out of here, I am in the wrong B-film!’) and to focus ….
    So, dear Tommy, I think I know how you must feel right now. Not that does help you, but I know it. And of course it is okay to be scared. And the thing is, you must do this alone. I mean, I know you have all the support from your family and friends and (ex-)colleagues, but in the end you must deal with it alone, if you know what I mean.
    Cry as much as you want (I should have), and scream as often if you like (it’s okay to scare your neighbours here).



    (sorry for the poor English)


  4. Tramadol made me go a bit trippy and loopy, no idea if it got rid of the pain or not I was too bogged down with the trippiness!
    You’re doing right to laugh at the cancer, laugh right in its face, show it who’s boss Tommy!
    Everything you wrote makes perfect sense and not ridiculous at all.
    We’re all in your corner hon xxx


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