The World CLL Day Is Today
It is the 1st September and world CLL day. You might never have heard of it nor understand what it means. I, meanwhile, am a member of this unique club, albeit not a membership I ever desired. CLL means Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia, a blood cancer. It sneaks up on us oldies, more men than women. You simply take a routine blood test and there it is, out of hiding. It is incurable but treatments exist to control it, should I ever need them. However, I now have a permanent bloody companion. I take it with me everywhere. I talk to it and a dilemma arises. Am I feeling tired because I am 75 and knackered? Or is it because the CLL has decided to flare up, to impose itself?
When you are diagnosed, as I was in 2018, the NHS does a very sophisticated test on your personal version of the disease. Many people become very upset when given their diagnosis. A few, like me, are told, ‘If I had to have cancer, then yours is the best one to have’. With this dubious good news, I jumped on my bike at Bournemouth Hospital and rode home. There, I told Ann that there were now three of us in our marriage and sadly, I’m rather closer to my bloody companion than to her. With my less aggressive form, I was put on ‘watch and wait’, or, to many, watch and worry. However, I don’t think it bothered me too much. I did, though, have what you might call negative dreams from that day forward. I still have these three years later.
The World CLL Day
Cancer is always with us humans. We are complex creatures, a mass of cells. One copy goes wrong and you have cancer. I don’t want to vilify it. Neither do I want to fight it, which would be absurd. If you assume that by 75 years of age something will fail then I am doing okay. I am not in a wheelchair and no stroke or heart issue has immobilized me. Neither am I in need of a care home. However, my consultant told me to exercise as much as I can. That, I can tell you, was music to my ears. Now, I realise that my fitness has been a boon. The thin, fit ones seem to hold off illness and respond better to treatment. Indeed, I may never need treatment and some other problem will take pride of place on my death certificate.
Moment in time
Meanwhile, I hope to see the bee orchid next year. With luck, I will be together with Ann and my bloody companion. All four of us inhabiting our desired place in this amazing world. Wordsworth would call that a moment in time.