The conversations on the radio this morning about cancer were very reminiscent of lots of previous conversations on this subject.
It is true that people were reluctant to use the word as though somehow the formation of it in ones mind or mouth could make it happen, make it real.
When my grandad got sick no one told me why...I tried asking the question of my grandmother but the best she could do was to say
"Well he has been in Christies." From which I could draw my own conclusions, Christies being the Manchester hospital that specialised in cancer treatment.
I was a young woman when he died.
I nursed him through his last day and found his skin yellow and his breathing rapid.
"It's malaria" my grandma pronounced and I remembered that he had indeed had that recurrent illness throughout his life after serving in India as a young soldier.
I never saw his death certificate but malaria may well have been given as the cause such was the dread the word "cancer" produced in people.
Now, having lost my husband and brother to brain tumours I think I can say the word with no dread!
My own brush with skin cancer during the summer has made me very aware that if my time is now limited then I must try to live life to the full for whatever is left of it!
I believe many people now recover from cancer depending where it is...but at least now we can speak the word and treat it as a medical problem rather a superstition where even the word is to be avoided.
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