Sunday, 24 September 2017


Apologies for my absence from Blogland. It was simply caused by a lack of broadband connection at my friend's house. We travelled back to Lewis yesterday and arrived home about 10pm. Normal service should now be resumed!
I think most of us are more comfortable with certainty than uncertainty in our lives.

Returning to the cancer theme. The scans were all clear. This leaves the medics with a conundrum as to what to do next given that the indicators are increasing quickly.

Some of you may know that there are trials going on into almost every form of cancer and, doubtless, many other illnesses as well. Trials are something ’other people’ go on. One of my close friends has just participated in a trial for a treatment for people with advanced prostate cancer.

There is one for people with prostate cancer where there are no visible cancers. There is a chance that I might get onto that trial. The closing date is very shortly. Wheels are turning.

In the meantime I shall await developments.

Monday, 18 September 2017


I called in at Another Tilly Tearoom  in Dunblane on my way south a couple of weeks ago. I like Dunblane. It is a great shame that, for many, the only thing that it means to them is the terrible Dunblane Massacre 21 years ago when 16 schoolchildren and one adult lost their lives. 

It has an attractive Cathedral, The Leighton Library, A Museum, (the last two of which I have never visited). However, although it is doubtless a pleasant place to live (and about 50 minutes by train from the centre of Glasgow) it's not a great tourist attraction and the main street has little to offer except several first class butchers (selling famous pies and the like in addition to raw meat), some small shops and charity shops and some caf├ęs.

I have stayed and visited many times (a number of times with CJ) and passed through many times in the last half century. I hope it continues to prosper.

The gold post box painted in honour of Andy Murray's Gold Medal 2012 Olympics win over Roger Federer. The tearoom is on the left up the road just past the red car (in case you are ever looking for it).

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Blip: An Update

Just a quick update in answer, partly, to the myriad of lovely messages I have received. Sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge with phone calls, texts, Facetime ,WhatsApp, Telegram, Messenger, emails, blogs and Facebook (does anyone use Skype these days?) all going at the same time and I hope none have gone unanswered. 

I drove home to Lewis on Thursday in order to sort myself out mentally and physically. I had done something I cannot ever recall doing before (as close friends know only too well) and travelled light with one small case and only enough of everything for the four days I intended to be away (plus an extra day of course just in case). 

Next Wednesday I have the results of my cancer scans and should learn what is going to happen in the next phase of getting more post-cancer-operation use out of this body that I inhabit. After all next month it will be 19 years since the diagnosis and operation. Nineteen years which have included some of the best of my life. Indeed, with the ten New Zealand years, one could say that I actually had a whole new life during that time.

Anyway on Monday after a nurse has changed the bag on the tube sticking out of my kidney I shall be getting the afternoon ferry to Ullapool and then driving to friends near Inverness. On Tuesday I shall leave for Glasgow and at crack of dawn on Wednesday I shall head off to Irvine and an appointment with the person in the NHS who has been my liaison and point of contact and mental brick in my cancer treatment, to see what awaits me. We agreed that this time she wouldn't tell me anything until we were face to face. Whatever the scan results we know that the cancer is developing and has to be treated.

Then I'm hoping that, whilst I'm down, they will finish playing around with my innards and get my system up and running again.

Why am I telling you all this? I suppose it may be partly therapy. However I see people all the time who have cancer or get cancer diagnoses and see every emotion from pure negativity, to fear, to 'Why me?', to just ignoring it and hoping it will go away all on its own (it won't so deal with it!), to determination and positivity that would blow your mind (like Jaz in New Zealand who has been my inspiration for so long). I want to impart some of that positivity to others who may face that which I have faced and am about to face.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Patients' Attitudes

Those who have been reading this blog for any length of time know that if I wake up in the morning and go to sleep the same night then, for me, it’s been a Good Day. This week I have had much time to reflect on that and haven’t altered my view one little bit.

I shall do (another) post in praise of the NHS shortly but this post is specifically about the attitude of the people I have encountered this week since the phone call that led to the blip in my plans last Saturday.

I was on a hospital ward from last Saturday night for 4 nights. That made me (apart from a gentleman of 102) the longest stayer on the ward whilst I was there. The second a bed became empty it was filled again. Unlike the last time I was in hospital (in Stornoway) having a knee replacement when I was acquainted with almost everyone who came into the ward this week I knew no-one. I felt like an observer.

There were no Highland or Islands accents, no Gaelic and, indeed, no English accents (I have a sort of English accent) all of which one finds in the Highlands and Islands and everyone was ‘Hen’ or ‘Pal’. Nor were there were any thin people (Mr 102 and I excepted). I felt positively emaciated.

However, by far the most noticeable thing was patient attitude. There seemed to be a strong air of negativity. I wondered how people expected to get better with such attitudes. I wondered how on earth the staff coped and put up with such attitudes. Most of all I wondered ‘Why?’.

There were the Waiting Complainers who seemed to take the view that the hospital had no one else to look after. There were the Food Complainers (I eat well and appreciate good food and I can say without hesitation that the large choice and quality of the food - which was, where appropriate, always piping hot - was pretty darn good for an institution delivering thousands of meals a day out of public funds. But then there was no junk food.). There were the They Don’t Know What They’re Doing Complainers. (Who made life even more difficult for the medics by saying that they no longer drank but surreptitiously topped up their beverages with something out of a concealed bottle). And there were the just plain Miserable Complainers.

I could go on but I’m sure that you get the picture.

My conclusion? Well I suppose it’s like every other trait and attitude we have and as I have no idea whether these things are inherent or learned or both I shall leave it at that.

However what I can say is that if you have a positive attitude then you are more likely to be happy and whilst a positive attitude won’t necessarily make you better a negative attitude is very likely to make you worse. As Mr 102 observed (rather too loudly) ‘How can that chap in the corner expect to get well with a miserable face like that?’