SO... WHAT'S ALL THIS 'CANCER' MALARKEY, THEN?
I was born on June 26th, 1972. With my diagnosis in January 2020 I suddenly became a Double Cancerian. I'm not sure whether that term existed before now.
On the day I learned my diagnosis was quite a bit more shite than I had hoped, many thoughts entered my head and began to roll around and crunch and pop and bang and whir and ping.
One of them was, 'Bugger', but another was a line from the movie, Shawshank Redemption:
Get busy living, or get busy dying
It was good advice.
First on my Bucket List was a trip somewhere to see an active volcano. It didn't matter where.
I have long been fascinated by their ferocity and their beauty; the brilliant reds and oranges and yellows and blacks. And I have often been glued to documentaries on YouTube as they showed footage of fountains of lava rocketing into the sky. To see one in real life has been a long-time dream. But then Covid hit.
The pandemic began a few short weeks after I had an operation and half a lung lopped out. Suddenly any and all plans for anything whatsoever went immediately onto the shelf as I was advised to shield.
To be honest, although I perceive myself as someone who is generally rather rational, with all the headlines and the buzz, some fear most definitely settled in.
Since I could not go to the volcano, the volcano would have to come to me, and that was the inspiration behind my imaginings of lava lakes and our volcanic Earth.
I have continued to produce such imaginings, and enjoy exploring new elements of the natural world.
In late 2020 I began a series describing the human impact on the natural world. Take a look HERE.
So, it turned out my cancer was a little more than quite a bit shit. It was very shit; a rare DNA mutation known as ROS1. It's terminal. There is no cure. Still, 'could've been worse.
I had long thought my ultimate demise would be something silly: a grand piano dropping out of the sky as I exit the local Greggs; a (hopefully) miss-hit golf ball thwacking into the side of my head as I walk past Bath's Pitch and Put... you know: that sort of thing.
It may still be either of those, but it made me think of another item on my bucket list: skydiving. Maybe that'll be the way I go: landing on a pitchfork in a haystack in the middle of a field?
I booked it despite the pandemic. And because they have been so supportive to me since my diagnosis, I decided to raise some money for MacMillan to say Thank you.
Lockdown in 2020 had an upside: the weather.
March and April 2020 were amazing, so I took off on my motorcycle as soon as I was recovered from the operation and as often as I could.
The roads were all but empty and so I would spend as much time as possible exploring new places and finding idyllic rivers to sit next to and enjoy a cup of tea while watching nature do its thing.
I thought a lot about the time I had left and how I wanted to spend it.
I knew I wanted to create art. And so I did.