As I said in my post “A Year In Review: 2015” the last few weeks of December were spent wishing 2015 away, and desperately hoping that 2016 wasn’t going to be shit. That cancer wouldn’t be one of my most heard words of the year, and that I could maybe get through a year of college without a family trauma getting in the way. How is that going, you ask?
Let’s just say my life was trauma free until 9pm on the 1 January.
18 hours. That’s it. That’s all it lasted for.
At 9pm we got a phone call telling us that my great aunt Mary had passed away from cancer. — Now I knew she had cancer. She was going through chemo at the same time as me. On occasion we’d even be in for treatment on the same day, and my mum would spend her time flicking between rooms (I couldn’t. Damn chemo pump needs to be plugged into the mains so I couldn’t physically leave my room). And I knew that unlike me, the chemo wasn’t working for her. I knew before Christmas that she was unlikely to last a few more months. I had this sinking feeling she might die on New Years Day. And low and behold I was right. But it didn’t take the shock away. And suddenly I felt the survivors guilt. Guilt that I managed to beat the disease while she didn’t. It’s the stupidest feeling in the world, feeling guilty for living. But I just couldn’t help it, and I still can’t.
The other two deaths are a little bit less personal, given the fact I didn’t personally know them, nor did they even know I existed. But it’s still a massive kick in the gut. Especially as someone who’s gone through the disease. Throughout the use of social media, every cancer fighter is part of a little family, and it’s a huge blow when someone doesn’t make it to the other end.
On Monday it was David Bowie, dying from cancer at aged 69. I haven’t been a fan of Bowie long. Only since the summer of 2014 when I watched Guardians of the Galaxy in cinemas and became obsessed with the soundtrack, Bowie’s song Moonage Daydream in particular. Since then his songs have been on my Spotify playlist. When clearing out my nan’s house, I took all the vinyls of his that they had. And when he released a new album a mere 3 days before he died, I was over the moon. I think every Bowie fan was. Like someone on Twitter said; we were far too excited to have him back, that we never realised that he was trying to say goodbye. Listening and watching to Lazarus is so haunting now; knowing that he’s actually singing about himself. That he’s doing to die. And that he was trying to tell us this, and nobody noticed it until he finally was gone. Yet another beautiful soul robbed from the world by a horrible disease.
And then yesterday, another piece of news that made my heart sink. Alan Rickman. Killed by cancer at the age of 69. Same age as Bowie, and the same disease. It seemed to similar to be true. And yet it was. Harry Potter was a large part of my childhood, and it’s still a huge part of my life now. Despite being painted to be the villian at the beginning, Snape always had his moments which would make me laugh. And when I went to watch Deathly Hallows Part 2 in the cinema, Alan Rickman’s name was added to the list of the few actors that have manage to make me cry, especially in a cinema where I put a lot more fight in not to. To hear that another legend lost the battle with cancer was horrible. And the survivors guilt has never felt so bad. Like I said it’s stupid, and I hate thinking it, but when the news broke both times I thought, why did I get to survive cancer when these extraordinary people die from it? They’ve done so much more for the world that it hardly seemed fair to them. At such young ages as well. I’ve seen people live into their hundreds, and they died at 69 years old? How many more people is cancer gonna take at such young ages this year?
Cancer sucks. Period.
But the tributes not just in the UK, but around the whole world, for both Bowie and Rickman, have been heart-warming. From the David Bowie murals in Brixton, to the single lily that was left outside Snape’s potions room at Harry Potter world in Universal studios. Even David Bowie’s new album is completely sold out now, with vinyl copies going for more than $300. It’s mental, but it’s also beautiful. And I couldn’t think of two better people for the world to come together and celebrate.
As for my great-aunt, her funeral is being held on Monday. And I’m sure as a family we’ll also be giving her the most wonderful send off she deserves.
So Cancer, if you’re listening. Take a break yeah? No doubt you’ve taken more people than I’ve listed this month. But I think that’s enough. — I’m holding out on a cure for you. And it can’t come quick enough.