Sunday, 10 May 2009

Lymph Notes

I woke early and plan to go back to bed... but I needed to wait for F to go to work first. I had finished reading blogs and looking at emails and was bored, so I clicked on the first blog of note, cancer banter. I only read one post because a link took me to an old blog called Lymph Notes and I got a little distracted.

This blog is complete. It has served it's purpose to it's writer and has been left as a gift to any who find it later...

The writer is a gay man who has been HIV Positive for a long time. He lost many friends to AIDS, and I think his partner to. He is a man who understands the value of happiness and how to inspire others. Nearly a year and a half ago he was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphona and the blog tells of his journey through cancer to a complete recovery. In it he seeks not only to write his own thoughts but to show cancer can be a gift, a time to live at a different speed with different priorities, and how even cancer can be approached with happiness and humour.

This blog touched me deeply and I shall tell you why here....

My Grandfather sounds like he was a lovely man. A creative, sensitive soul, who although he was a music critic by trade, was well loved by all those he critiqued. Apparently this was because he had a sensitivity to his reviews and was always constructive. Many years later my Uncle (his son) lived in the town where he lived last and while visiting a pub, a man approached him and asked him if my Uncle if he was related to him (my Grandfather). He touched people.

When my Mum and Uncle were young, he moved to another town for a new job and they were told that they would move there to be together again. Only they didn't ever move. Eventually a divorce followed and my Grandmother remarried. My Grandfather was eventually engaged to marry another woman. Before they were able to marry he was diagnosed with Hodgkins. What was even more tragic about this was that his fiance's first husband had died of Hodgkins also.

They never did marry as he wanted his ex-wife to carry on receiving all financial aid related to him in order to benefit his children. My Mother was still young and my Uncle was even younger. They hadn't made their way out into the world yet....

Many years later, my Mother and I were sat with my Grandmother looking at old family letters and things when my Grandmother decided to tell us more about her relationship with my Grandfather. I don't think this was done in a nice and caring way. Apparently my Grandfather had been caught in a mens toilets up to things that nice married men with children shouldn't be doing. He lost his job, hence the move to a new town. There never had been any intention that they would all move to this new town and my Grandparent's marriage had been effectively over from that day.

My Mum felt betrayed. All these years the things she had been told and had thought had been a lie. There isn't any obvious way of getting at the truth either. There is a part of me that would love to know if he was gay or bisexual or if it is untrue. Hearing this about him made me feel very, very sad. He never lived to see a time when gay relationships could be discussed more openly and were accepted. What sort of life must he have lived, trying to be other than he was?

My mother has chosen not to tell the others of my family for reasons I understand. It is just to dificult and personal and impacts on so much of the most difficult times in her life. I did once discuss it with a distant relative and she said that the lady he was due to marry was very charismatic and had a sort of open house frequented by arty sorts. I could obviously never ask her.

One of his good friends had the fortune of developing a very successful career and as such he is relatively easy to track down. He lives on an island off the coast of Scotland (isn't the internet a wonderful thing) and he is openly gay. I have been saying for a long time that I shall write to him, not to ask that question but to ask of any old stories, or memories or even photos taht he might like to share. I know this friend was very close to him as he commemorated him in a very special way. Not surprisingly he is advancing in years and it worries me that my fear will stop me from contacting him and one day it will just be too late....

Reading about Hodgkins also feels very relevent right now for other reasons. I have a lump under my arm. It has been there for several months and has been prodded and poked by several people who think it is benign and just a cyst or an infected lymph node. I am due now to start antibiotics in the hope they will discourage it. If they don't I am to return to the Doctors. Although I don't believe it to be anything serious, and neither does my Doctor, I still had to mention the Hodgkins to him....

I think one of the saddest things about reading this blog is that this form of cancer can now be completely cured. How many years after he died did that happen? How big was the gap in time that meant his diagnosis was a death sentence?

And yes I know I have to write that leter.... Life IS too short...


  1. Oh please write that letter....I think there will be so much treasure to be found there and already too much time has been lost to silence....

  2. Rose..don't be afraid to write that letter.An old friend,especially of that generation,would be pleased that you asked and would enjoy reliving the stories from the past. I have always shared with my friends that time is too short and memories and stories need to be documented,for the present and future. I was so sorry that my father didn't have the strenghth to write or verbally record stories of the past. try as i may, i can't remember them all. my Mom recorded stories of her life and generation in a book,sadley lost after my sister died in Texas. however,I did find a treasuretrove of letters in a trunk written between my Mom and Dad from their marriage on throughout WW2..a lesson in history and a view into their lives.

  3. more....WRITE THAT LETTER!!!!!!!!!!!! You will be glad you did.
    Keep me posted on that lump..I CARE !!!!!!!!!

  4. Thank you lovely ladies.... I shall keep you updated!