December 16th 2014. Cake day No 9

It will not have escaped the notice of regular readers that the urge to write is diminishing. Well, not so much the urge as the need or even ability. Looking back over the past nine years I can see that I tend to write when things are bad. Writing is therapeutic and I’ve been very fortunate to share my therapy sessions with others, be they regulars or passers by.

So the lack of posts is an indication that things are not bad. Or not as bad as they once were. And that would be a fair summary.

Today, though, is a day of celebration, more important than a birthday. Each December 16th, I mark the anniversary of my first cancer diagnosis in the belief that we are survivors from the moment we are diagnosed, rather than when we get the ‘all clear’. Because some people never get that signal. Yet we are still here.

Nine years ago, on December 16th 2005, I was dragged kicking and screaming into Cancerworld. At that time the 5 year survival rate for advanced bowel cancer was 5%. I have no idea what it is these days – and I have no wish to know – but things have clearly improved.

After the initial fuss of surgery, chemotherapy and yet more surgery, we lived in hope and a blind faith in the future until April 2010, when the cancer returned. We spent four years and four months in ignorance of the cleverness and deviousness of cancer cells. Sometimes they hide or play dead when the scanner is switched on and then sneak back when the operator’s not looking. So when the oncologist says; “there’s no sign of disease” what he really means is that – by his own admission – there is no sign on the day they did the scan.

It’s now four years and eight months since the last sighting of cancer cells; a combination of surgery, radiotherapy, luck and shear bloody-mindedness means we have now travelled further along the survival path than we did last time. Have they really gone this time? We can but hope.

“We won’t get fooled again.” The Who

I say ‘we’ deliberately. Annie shares this journey with me. She has never wavered in her love and support and nagging encouragement not to give in.

In the early days I celebrated this special day in the traditional manner, with a glass or two of fizz. Since the lung re-section and the consequent heart arrhythmia, I have substituted cake for alcohol. Chocolate cake; with layers of gooey chocolate filling. Probably as bad for the heart as fizz, but ….


We’re looking forward to 2015 and the prospect of a cake day No 10. It’s going to be a busy year; we have plans. Lots and lots of plans; music, photography and travel.

Like many people, I am living with the consequences of cancer, rather than dying from it. And it’s not just me or the other inhabitants of Cancerworld; Society at large has to deal with the consequences of survival. We need drugs, we need scans and other resources and perhaps most of all, we need reassurance. And cake……

So cheers – and best wishes to all the other inhabitants of Cancerworld – be they family, friends, supporters, survivors or the poor sod who has this disease.

And today is a timely reminder that you can photograph your cake and eat it.

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10 Responses to December 16th 2014. Cake day No 9

  1. Sue M says:

    Ian – I will raise a glass to you the next time I raise a small glass. I was anxious when I saw you had posted. I am filled with joy and relief to see there is no cause for concern but only that of celebration. I wish you both a very happy Christmas. 🙂

  2. Glyn & Mary says:

    G/day mate, We’ll look forward to celebrating with you both, in being part of your travelling plans.
    In the mean time, enjoy your cake, and all the best to you both for Xmas.

  3. Tim Smith says:

    Humbled and delighted in equal measure that you changed plans to allow me to share the special evening with you, you fully deserve the right to both have your special cake and eat it!

  4. JJ says:

    Hi Ian and Annie
    I was a little surprised to see a post , a bit apprehensive as it had been so long since you had written and a bit of fear surfaced from the depths. But i saw the title and realised why you had decided to write.
    So happy Anniversary (in the nicest way) to you both.
    Maybe we have been lucky ( to be living with consequences as opposed to the actual dx), but I do hope more people are surviving cancer.
    My anniversary is 30th October and 2014 saw my 13th yr since dx.
    Perhaps you can force a small piece of cake down this weekend for me too

    All the best for a very happy 2015 full of all the things you are planning. I look forward to hearing of them and Cake day Number 10

  5. Earbee says:

    Just wanted to say that I’ve checked in a couple of times since October last year, and am glad that all is going well..ish. There are still people reading your book and finding it helpful and moving! You made me laugh and wince at the same time…especially about the stoma…(mine is with me forever, however long my forever is). It’s good to be reminded that someone has to be in the 3, or 5 or 10% of the statistics, and I’m always happy to hear about those that are. I have a way to go…only 19 months since original dx, and 4 months since the dreaded return…but life is still good, and there is always hope whichever way it goes. Wishing you all the best, oh and yes- ‘stoma ladies’ are fantastic. The oncology dept at NGH is still full of lovely people, and delays too!

  6. Pippa says:

    A little belatedly, but happy cake day to you both, and all the best for those plans for 2015! Delighted to hear that singing is featuring again. x

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