What’s It Like?

Occasionally I’m asked about what it’s like aboard the emotionally fraught rollercoaster ride which manifests from my spouses incurable cancer diagnosis.

My inquisitors, individuals who’ve not previous shared this venture along a metaphorical cobbled path while in possession of nitroglycerin. People seeking to understand what’s it’s like existing with a clan member who in their own words are a “Ticking time bomb.”

A device patiently awaiting the opportunity to move their victim on from this vale of tears. This unwelcome visitor not only causing physical distress to the patient, but also introducing them and their brood to occasions of overwhelming mental despair.

This rancid disease, serving no purpose other than spiteful destruction. An obscene pathological parody of a kamikaze pilot, feeling nothing about losing its own existence on completion of its deadly remit.

Some cancer suffers do manage to get an eviction order; temporarily or permanently ejecting the disease courtesy of a medical procedure and/or medication. However, my wife Karen’s secondary tumours presented themselves prior to her primary malignancy, consequently depriving her of any hope of cure.

With the eviction order not an option, this unwanted guest has resided in casa Strachan for over eight year. It’s metaphorical feet languishing on the coffee table as it goads and messes with my clans minds.

On a daily basis this underhand canker wages numerous battles with Karen’s meds, which’ve thus far proved a valiant ally to my spouse. These tablets are incapable of prevailing in the overall war. However they currently hold enemy advances with their stoic resistance on many skeletal fronts.

I’ve written previously in Where The Rainbow Ends – “I Regret To Tell You…”, about the occasion we learning Karen had breast cancer. Along with the even more devastating news a week later on learning it’d metastasised into her liver and bones.

Cancer has held the upper hand on innumerable days in the last eight years. However, on occasion, my brood’ve achieved a share of the spoils. Occasions our odious nemesis can’t ever take away, irrespective of whatever our future holds. Things like holidays, cruises, gigs, theatre shows, operas, our children 21st’s (which we didn’t think Karen would see), weekend breaks and days out in some truly beautiful parts of the UK.

Anyway, enough of this pity party, it’s time to move onto something more cheerful.


As I write, I’m greeted with foreboding views of grey skies outside my east Leeds home. Additionally, I catch sight of water slowly cascading from above the dining room window. I’m unable to ascertain if what I’m witnessing is drizzling rain, or whether the culprit is my toilet’s faulty flush mechanism is dispensing water via it’s overflow pipe. Also in view is one of next doors cats. Perched on my patio, it appears to be scanning the kaleidoscopic colours bequeathed by my garden.

As the moggy panoramically scans nature’s bounty, I ponder what thoughts cross her mind. Could it possibly be “Thank you Gary for planting these thriving horticultural shrubs, significantly enhancing my ability to successfully hunt the common garden avian. The plant’s presence providing perfect camouflage, along with a reminder of the cathartic nature of viewing mother nature’s beauty. I shall always be in your debt for the exquisite colours and food you’ve provided.”

Either that or he’s thinking “I wish Strachan would get his overflow leak sorted! The lazy get would rather sit on his arse transcribing inane thoughts than stop mother earth’s valuable resources being wasted.”

If pressed I’d probably bet my feline buddy is most probably dwelling on the latter ……………….. If it’s the former, he’s a good vocabulary for a cat, although he needs to work on his grammar!

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