What about the last guy?

Today I’ve been talking to a journalist from the Sunday Telegraph. She’s doing a series of stories about the extra challenges faced by cancer patients who live in the bush. She found this blog and gave me a call. I think it’s great the Tele is doing these stories. In New South Wales, the further away from Sydney you live, the more likely you are to die from your particular cancer. If you don’t have a car, live in a small town with little or no public transport, if you have poor literacy skills or no Internet access … even if you simply have problems keeping track of appointments, your outlook can start to dip. For those needing to travel to Sydney for treatment, the whole business of organising and paying for transport and accommodation can be overwhelming. Some simply give up. This is an issue that needs airing. In a rich country like this, cancer survival rates shouldn’t be so affected by one’s address.

For me, though, distance has not been such a tyranny. I have a partner able to take time off work to drive me back and forth and a friend in Newtown offering not just the front room but delicious dinners (and the company of two gorgeous kelpies). I have, though, often wondered how well I’d be coping if even one or two pieces of my support jigsaw were missing.

Anyway, it’s all making me think of Arlo Guthrie (son of Woody) talking about how there’s always someone worse off than you. You might have cancer but at least it’s treatable. You might have a colostomy bag, but what about the blind man with the colostomy bag (another of my stoma nurse’s patients)? There’s always someone worse off, says Arlo Guthrie, until you get to the last guy. Just think about him for a minute.

I’m typing this with one finger on an iPad, in amongst the kelpies at Larissa’s house. I’ve got to have one last chemo session tomorrow.  By 3pm tomorrow, I’ll officially be in remission!

10 thoughts on “What about the last guy?

  1. John Merkel

    Hi Tracy, it’s 4.21 on a cold Melbourne morning where an attack of insomnia has ejected me from my bed. The moment that Bathurst really felt like home for me was when neighbours and strangers rallied around to make sure our regular trips to Sydney for Owens cancer treatment were made easier. Someone from work opened a bank account, the advocate ran stories about our plight – at least one on the front page with an irresistible photo of his sweet little face – and people we’ve still never met put lots of money in. I’m glad you’ve got all the help you need, but it’s not just luck, you’ve put lots of work into your friendships and people everywhere love you. I tried to call you but will again when you’re officially in remission! Ps. We won the Melbourne cup sweep in the oncology ward on the day Owen was given the thumbs up. That was a lucky day. Love, John

  2. Tracy Post author

    It’s so true, John – I have such a sense of community around me. It’s really making all the difference. And it’s wonderful knowing Owen’s back story & seeing him around & about & getting on with life.

    I suppose should clarify my “officially in remission” statement – it’s not official until a doctor says so. But in my own mind, it starts when they take the @&# catheter out this afternoon!

  3. julia manning

    Sometimes when I’m rehashing my I’m-not-a-real-nurse (I’m an imposter)- narrative I use the fact that I still get catheter and cannula mixed up as proof!
    One hour and 20 mins to the (unofficial) big RRRRRR.
    WEEEEEEEEEEEE!!
    Can I direct the lovely Natasha from Life Matters to your blog?
    Hope you found a suitably excruciating Chinese massage.

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