Last year the cancer came back. I had reduced the number of scans undertaken because we were coming up to the five year 'All Clear' mark, and I was feeling fairly good about the situation. One day in February, I spotted a strange anomaly to the right hand side of my body. At first I felt that it was probably the result of typical Fradgley-esque tomfoolery - larking about with my eldest daughter, or perhaps a knock I'd received coaching rugby at school. But there was a nagging feeling that all was not well, and after requesting a series of scans to help establish what the problem might be, my oncologist informed my wife and I that the AS was back.
I could spend a considerable amount of time describing what happens when you receive this type of news. I will at some point, because the story is multifaceted in its aspects of horror, despair, humour, and other complex emotions, and if I'm honest it's worth sharing. But I also know the value of a good yarn, and so will spread out the contents of the last year like a twelve course tasting menu at one of those bloody annoying gastro-pubs, in a desperate attempt to keep you (the avid reader) hooked.
Fast forward a year, and the deal is this; I've been through the hardest chemotherapy I've ever experienced. I've had my entire lattissimus dorsi resected, leaving my back weakened and my mobility compromised. I lost my nasal hair. It is nigh-on impossible to describe life without nasal hair.
That's not true actually. Life is crap without nasal hair. There, done it.
but what was apparent was that, after coming through the events of the last twelve months, I cannot shake the feeling that the cancer came back because I had got 'soft'. My keen sense of vigilance had dissipated or eroded over time, and the very thing that had tried to kill me so many moons ago had seized the opportunity to come back and take its revenge - take the pound of flesh I had robbed from under its very nose, so to speak.
As it stands, it took a great deal more that half a pound. It took nearly two and a half kilos...