At the Back of Autumn's Chair

I had professed my love for Autumn many times in the blog. She was always my gushing favourite. Alas, the love wasn't mutual. I had a car accident last Autumn. This time round, I have cancer. What do I need to do to make Lady Autumn smile at me next year? 

I'll stop killing flies this coming Summer, promise.

The second month of Autumn, April, was a bad month to break uneasy news to anyone. I noticed it didn't matter who and how close the person was. I was diagnosed with bladder cancer around 25th March. The first people told me early April Fool jokes weren't funny. So were post April Fool jokes.  Even in mid April, I was warned not to play silly April Fool jokes way past the permitted date. Oddly, I seemed to be the person who took my own bad news calmly.

I could emphatise. If I was in those shoes, I would have done the same. I would have snared at my friend for a bad overdue April Fool's joke, fumbled for the some niceties to reply when I realised it wasn't a joke, sent them, shut off my phone, ran 500 metres and threw it in the river. Nobody relishes bad news. Before long, I realised it was a huge mistake to tell anyone at all. I could have kept it quiet, gotten cured and moved on, without alarming anyone. Soon, the mistake came back to haunt me. The initial sympathies and concerns towards me were soon replaced by disbelief and then eventually anger at my disability to give an accurate update of what was going to happen to me.

One week, two weeks, three weeks went by. I was under pressure as disgruntled friends kept asking for updates. Even my boss bugged me every single time he saw me (he doesn't turn up for work everyday). 

"How can you be so calm?" the boss exclaimed, in disbelief.  

"If this happened to me, I would be literally breathing down their necks twice or thrice a day or as many times as I needed to. You Asians are truly patient and too nice about such things." 

He held his hands up quickly, "Hey, I meant that as a compliment." The boss was the only Caucasian in the entire company and he hired every single Asian, including myself. He married an Indonesian woman and raised his four step-kids as his own. My boss wasn't a racist - and I knew where he was coming from. I knew where everyone was coming from. The problem was there weren't updates because there weren't updates. Each call to Royal Perth Hospital yielded the same result. Jen or I would be told there was no dates, the specialists would required time to prioritise their referrals and schedule them accordingly, I was on the "waiting list" and that was the system the hospital operates. Each time, the advice given was the same. If I couldn't wait, go private or the emergency. That was that. People expected more drastic action from me than accept and respect the system. Yeah, I could burn Royal Perth Hospital down by making a trip to Bunnings to get my supplies, or play act at the emergency department to force them to see me but I reckoned I would be better off concentrating on knowing more about my illness each day and focused on suppressing the cancer cells within me, if I couldn't kill them.

My initial reasoning of breaking the bad news to close friends was that I thought it might be unhealthy to keep things inside and that if I wanted to start fighting cancer, I needed to accept my opponent instead of pretending it didn't exist. I didn't want to live a lie everyday, rejecting food and turning down BBQ invitations with the need to think of a new excuse each time. I thought it would be sensible to have people around me to remind me not to eat certain food harmful for my situation if I picked any up, rather than offering them to me without knowing I shouldn't be touching them at all.

That loop went on for three weeks. A couple of friends went livid and there seemed to be insinuations  that I was not taking my life seriously, that I wasn't a responsible man, not sparing a thought for my wife and child and parents and the lemon tree next door. Every journal about cancer that I read recommends a healthy state of mind for cancer patients, for the best chance of recovery. I couldn't help but notice the effect of the amount of unnecessary stress my contacts were piling on me. Thus, I decided to heed my inner voice and shut off communication regarding this issue.

So why the contradicting move to return to blogging and practically revealed it online, where those who have no business to know about my condition and some whom may even pop the champagne at the good news, lurk? I see it pointless to hide from folks who are immune dettol. 

I write, as the religious prays. Each post renders my mind the clarity that I need now, the way it did for me through my darkness nights when I came to Perth with little money, no jobs, no friends and no knowledge how Australia works. Along the way, I lost my bearings. I began to write to an audience and eventually I hated that, stopped blogging and never return to it for a single look for months. This time round, I hope to stay on track and focus on writing to myself, writing for myself.

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