Once upon a time, I was the sort of person who was immune to the charity drive. Sorry, Charity Drive. You might have got my money if you cornered me before I was a functioning human being with my fair trade cup of tea. Okay, you may have also been fortunate if you had cornered me at my desk. Maybe. It would have very much dependent on the level of my hangover and my own induced vulnerability.
These days however, I am a sucker for charity. My circumstances make it so. Macmillan, Myeloma UK, Cancer Research UK. They are all getting my cash, I do not have a lot, but I figure they offer the minute possibility of making my life better, so, where is the price tag on that? I have the credit card for shoes.
I have always given money to charity, homeless and addiction ones specifically (and still), because I felt guilty walking through St James’ Park everyday enjoying the scenery whilst people were ruining my view by sleeping on the park benches with their bottles of White Lightening. My reason for donations to charity have always been selfish, always based on making myself feel like I was doing something without really having to do something. I am sure most of those donating last week to our BBC telethon would emphasise. Begrudgingly. Your donation came not because primarily you wanted the world to be a better place, but because you felt guilty because your life was better than what you were looking at on your TV screen.
Until My Myeloma happened, I would not have given my money readily to a cancer charity, even though I had lost people to cancer including my beloved Grandpa. Many Christmases ago, I saw the Macmillan nurses come into my house and I did not care. They were not changing anything. At the time, all I thought was that my Grandpa was dying and the ladies who were coming in to change his dressings were mere window dressing. They did not change the end result, so why did they matter? People die from cancer. I associated cancer with old people, old people like the beautifully stubborn Scottish man I was lucky enough to call my Grandpa.
These days, unfortunately, I have to pay attention. I bet if you know me, you probably pay more attention now too.
The adverts on the television, the adverts on the tube, the adverts in the paper. They are designed so that people cannot forget about cancer. Cancer, cancer, cancer, cancer. Cancer. People get it. Apparently one in three do, but I guess not many of them are 28 years old. Do you want to feel sorry for us? Well, tough luck if you don’t, because the advert on ITV3 tells you that there are many people who drew the shit stick and apparently a cure is coming. It’s only coming if you give us your money. Do it quickly though, for the next ad break is in 15 minutes.
If print could be white noise, the cancer charity advert, in all it’s guises cannot now be blanked out. At least I cannot blank it out. It is everywhere. I have cancer, so I am bound to see it, Until I got cancer, I never heard it. I definitely didn’t see it. I never heard ‘cancer’. I saw the words and my association with it was, well, distant. We all know cancer is bad, but if it is not in your life, then one does not need to worry about. It won’t effect you. We know it happens, we hear the stories, but if you can carry on going to work everyday, see your family, then the connection, the empathy, is distant.
That’s right, until it happens… Until you are lying in a hospital bed and a doctor changes your life.
I hate the adverts.
I want all the cancer charities to have all the money they need. If they need a never ending pit of dosh, then they should have it, whether it is a charity supporting those with cancer or one trying to find the cures. I just wish that you did not need the reminder. Your reminders, remind me that I am not normal. That I have cancer, and that there is no cure. Your reminders tell me that not only do I need this special support and that there is no cure, but the people I love because they love me, need support. Your reminders tell me that I cause pain.
Today, I got the tube for the first time by myself since my diagnosis and my enjoyment of that was taken away by the fact that people needed to be reminded. I saw the advert. I just wanted to rejoice in my independence, but all I got instead was a reminder that people get cancer. Including me.
Maybe one day, such a crude interruption into one’s life will be superfluous.
Please let it be in my lifetime.