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My Bone Marrow Transplant

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

It’s a bittersweet week. Today is my 64th Birthday and I have been showered with greetings and love from all around the world. It’s my sixth bonus birthday, so lots of reasons to be cheerful. I’ve seen Francesca graduate, seen Sam grow up into a fine young man. I’ve been blessed with a truly wonderful wife, who has been the rock of the family. But last Friday a friend died; she fought cancer for several years; it came back 4 times. In the end, the punishment that her body had taken proved too much. She leaves a husband and 3 children. We went to the service for her last Sunday evening.

So the guilt comes back; the feeling that people who have lost family to cancer will look at me and think “why did he survive and our precious die”? There is no answer. Talking to someone last week who had lost his wife to Lymphoma 2 years ago, we talked this through. He said there was a woman in the village where they live in the UK, who could not bear to see them because she had a daughter who had survived the same cancer. And the inanity of people who said “well, it’s a good cancer to get because the survival rate is so high”. There was real anger in his voice as he said this. His wife didn’t respond to any treatment.There are no “good” cancers, people. All cancers are horrible, for the patient, their family and friends. Cancer destroys homes, lives, relationships.

I should have died in July 2009. But the doctors and nurses and Linds and our friends – especially James – got me through it. I know they called Linds one night at about 3am because they weren’t sure that I would make it to the morning. I should have died in March 2011. Linds brought my children and grandchildren from the UK because my condition was so serious. I went into a coma in Manila and woke up in Hong Kong. My daughter Louise slept in my hospital room in Hong Kong, away from her young children for a couple of weeks. I had dinner with her 2 weeks ago on her birthday and said “there were times in the early days in HK that I went to sleep not knowing if I would wake up”. She said “Yes, we felt the same.”

So, God wants me to do something, and I think that I might be starting to understand what that is. It will be tough.

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