I know I’m not the only one who feels this sentiment today, with the news that the wonderful Alan Rickman has died at age 69 after fighting cancer. Not only have we lost this legend, we also lost the otherworldly phenomenon that is David Bowie this week, and just after Christmas the god Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead (or Hawkwind, if you’re my father-in-law…). They were also 69 years old (well, Lemmy had turned 70 four days before he passed), and they were also taken by cancer – Lemmy’s fight was shorter than Bowie’s, who seemingly used his upcoming death as the force behind his haunting last album.
Two weeks in 2016, and three brilliant men have lost their lives to cancer. It’s. Not. Fair.
As I write this, an advert for a cancer charity is on TV. I support Cancer Research UK and Macmillan, and I am very hateful towards the disease. My mom was diagnosed with mouth cancer back in 1998, and not only did she fight the beast, she won. Back then, cancer seemed to be something that you only ever really heard ‘other people’ getting. I’m not saying it was rare, but it felt like something far away. My dad lost his mother to cancer, my mom’s dad died of lung cancer and even my nan fought cancer when she was younger than I am now, but that was before my time so still far enough away for me to not fear the disease.
Mom lost her life to cancer back in 2013. We didn’t even know she had it again, thinking her weight loss was attributed to complications with her PEG tube – but a week after going into hospital, she died. Lemmy’s death hearkened back to that utter shock of someone seemingly being well one minute and then the awful news that they were going to die the next.
I have friends who have lost loved ones to cancer. It’s something that far too many of us share, and it’s not right. Even before my wedding, a close friend of mine was told that his mother had 18 months to live as her cancer had become terminal – only to be told afterwards that she had far less time than that. She lived for one more day before passing peacefully.
Can I be honest with you all? I’m terrified of cancer. I’m scared of losing more people I love to the disease, and I’m also scared of getting it myself. The idea that my fate would be decided by whether this hidden disease has spread or not, or whether I can fight it… It’s fucking terrifying.
The thought that people might read this post and will have their own stories of loss due to cancer… it’s not right. It’s not fair! I’m far more vocal about wanting to end the stigma of mental illness, but I’m passionate about developments in cancer treatments, as well as supporting those who are already fighting the disease. And that will never change.
I’ve donated £5 to Cancer Research UK today. It’s not much, but if everyone who reads my blog today does the same, that’s a small step in the direction of a bigger movement for fighting cancer.
I’m gonna put Dogma on while I do some more writing. If God doesn’t already have a voice, I’m sure Alan Rickman is up for a promotion.