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!