Playing the card

I’m an evil sod. I really am. When most people have the dignity to deal with their illness in a calm and cultured manner, I used it to get things. The worse part? It worked.

OK, so I promised myself I wouldn’t talk about my cancer exclusively on this blog thing, but hell, it was and still is a huge part of my life and frankly it’s this or tell you about my personal productivity system, and believe me when I tell you I’ve still got that magnum opus brewing up to be regurgitated on these pages in several umpty-million parts. So stick with what you’ve got – is a phrase I’ve yet to hear mentioned by any wise old sage so I’ve decided to use it myself until someone corrects me.

Yes, I had cancer and at the early stages it was difficult to believe me, because apart from the bags under my eyes I looked fine. It wasn’t until a good few weeks into the chemo that all my hair started falling out and I really started on the crash plan lose weight because your appetite has gone diet, and then I looked really ill and suddenly the sheer power of what I had came to me. I could get sympathy! I could talk peoples’ ears off about myself and they felt obliged to listen!

Insert maniacal chuckle here. Yes kids, I took advantage of that in the most horrible way. I mean, there must have been a whole load of people who had heard me repeat my stories about a thousand times – and believe me, dear internet, I have some real doozies – but all in all they were just too polite to tell me I was boring them. I mean, can you imagine the horror of telling someone who has cancer that they are boring? It just isn’t the done thing, darling.

So I talked and talked and made people turn green with the hospital stories and tales of things going into me, and usually not staying there so they had to come out again and go back in, and things coming out of me that weren’t supposed to be there in the first place, and endless, endless tedious detail about treatment regimes and drugs and schedules and playing Xbox at home because I was bored out of my skull.

And the seemingly new ability to talk in really long sentences without taking a breath or letting you, dear reader, think about taking one either, which you can’t really if you are reading this aloud. Although why you’d want to is beyond me. Though you’re thinking about it now, aren’t you? I’m a mind manipulating genius.

Where was I? Oh yes, stories.

The thing was I couldn’t tell if people were just being polite or if they were genuinely interested. They certainly seemed to be interested. Perhaps they never had the chance to quiz someone with cancer before. I was being remarkably upbeat about it, that’s for sure, and perhaps that made it easier to ask questions and have curiosity satisfied. And that’s all before I started to use my illness to get things moving around me.

Yes, it’s true, having cancer – and therefore playing with the preconceptions that people still, unfortunately, harbour about those poor unfortunates that have it – means that you can pretty much play artistic licence with queues and experiences. Merely hinting that you have a disease that is potentially terminal does, I must admit, rather enhance the customer care experience when in retail establishments. Ahem. Did I ever do that? Well, I might have. Just once or twice. Admittedly, most of the time, I didn’t really need to ask – my bony frame, wheezing chest and hairless appearance did help things along a bit. I got discounts. And priority treatment. It was, all in, quite a fun experience really.

Mind you, the fact that I felt like shit pretty much all of the time did take the shine off the experience a bit and perhaps the memory of being treated like I was a special person shines a bit brighter than the actual events themselves. Feeling like shit does tend to do that to you, I suppose. If you can’t walk far and your nose keeps running because your God-damned nose hair fell out (yes, even nose hair goes eventually, and no nose hair means no stopping the constant flow of mucus), and you feel tired and sick and goddammit I have cancer get out of my way keeps playing in your head then while everyone does do their best to make you feel comfortable, you do develop a sense of entitlement. A sense of “I feel like crap and you don’t, so sod off out of my way” is more common than most.

Anyway, I started ranting when I didn’t intend to. My message? The one thing you can take away from all of this?

If you’re unlucky enough to have cancer, milk it for all you can get. Who knows, you might just end up feeling a little better for it from time to time. And you know what? That makes every day easier to get on with, and you bloody deserve that.