Saturday 27 February 2016
Thursday 18 February 2016
It’s the 18th February 2016. Not a particularly notable date for most people. For me, however, it is one of some considerable significance. It is a day I celebrate, and with good reason. Today marks three years CANCER FREE (and also a bollock short, but that's neither here nor there!)
The NHS gets criticised heavily, from people within the UK, to our glorious politicians, who continually tell us everything that’s wrong with it, and then promptly do nothing to fix said issues. Similarly, it comes under considerable attack from right-wing Americans, who use it to point out all the flaws of Universal healthcare, and how much better off they are paying ten years earnings to fix their ingrowing toenail.
Well, for me, the NHS has been nothing short of bloody brilliant. I was diagnosed, referred to the hospital, and under the knife, within the space of THREE WEEKS. Alongside the self examination which detected the tumour, there is absolutely no doubt that the NHS saved me a whole barrage of treatment. No chemotherapy. No radiation. One operation (and a hell of a lot of follow ups, but who gives a shit about that!). My oncologist is one phone call away, if I have any concerns, and when, last year, I did find some swelling in the lonely testicle, swinging down below, all on it’s Todd, I had an ultrasound within around ten days.
In short, I owe my life to the NHS. For fifteen years, it was a privilege to work for them as a nurse. I have needed their care on numerous occasions; none more so than in the wake of a cancer diagnosis. And they have never let me down. Not once.
It is entirely due to the care and kindness of the surgeons, oncologists, nursing staff and doctors that I am still here, being a belligerent old fart..
I have another two years before I can declare myself “cured”. I am technically “in remission”, To me, those are just words. I pay much more attention to blood tests, and have become intimately acquainted with terms like AFP, HCG and LFP (tumour makers). And as long as they stay within the desired parameters, the cancer remains GONE.
With every passing anniversary, the likelihood of it returning lessens considerably. That said, I will still remain vigilant, keeping an eye on ol’ lonely-ball.
Alongside the incredible support from the NHS (and of course, family and friends), the support I have received from people on Twitter has been beyond measure. Extraordinary kindness from people whom I have never met. You know who you are. And I am more grateful for your support and continued friendship than you could possibly imagine.
I was bloody lucky. I had no great battle to contend with. I am equally, acutely aware of the difficulties and hardships others have faced, and continue to face on a daily basis. My cancer pales into insignificance, by comparison. And I hope, where I can, that I can offer the same support that has so kindly been afforded me.
But today. Just this one day. This one’s mine. It belongs to me. And I’m grabbing it with both hands!
Tuesday 16 February 2016
There are times when I seriously wonder why I stay on Twitter. The past week or so has demonstrated some of the crassest, vile behaviour I have seen in some considerable time.
My beloved (!) stalker has seen fit to hijack the Sepsis hashtag, and is now offering his support on the subject to anyone who’ll listen. He claims he is raising awareness. A road we’ve been down before, on more than one occasion. His shameless attempts at using charities to further his own public image is pretty low, by any standard.
Which brings me neatly to another of his “causes”. A supposed “charity”, who aren’t actually a charity at all, simply a CIC, which he has long supported were discovered to have copious amounts of hard-core pornography in their “likes”. When this was brought to his attention by another user, he, once again, distorted the facts, to appear as though the discovery had been made by him, and that I, and another user, could only have found the information by stalking his timeline. He offered an apology, which lasted all of five minutes, as shortly after he was bleating about “lies and misinformation”. Business as usual. As a side note, Google his name, if you know it. The third suggestion by Google is “stalker”. Says it all really!
Then there are the homeopaths and their advocates. Whilst Stalky is a pain in the arse, these people are vicious, cruel, sadistic, twisted lunatics. The details of the family I recently interviewed are well known, and yet they continue to target them.
The latest parasite to come crawling out of the woodwork is a pleasant character, who goes by the username @HomeoReikiDogs. I got into a heated exchange with her recently. Her tweets can speak for themselves…
Charming, isn’t it? The suggestion that a grieving family should be “over it by now”, as 18 months have passed (which they haven’t. it has been a year, so her ability to research is decidedly lacking, along with her compassion and dignity). Describing the loss of an infant is, quite frankly, utterly callous. It will come as no great surprise that she associates closely with Ms Hermann-Courtney, aka @BrownBagPantry, who has already featured in two blog posts for her targeted harassment of the aforementioned family.
Moving away from homeopathy, another user, and a person with whom I have an extremely close friendship recently discovered that someone she had been friends with online, had, for the entire duration of their friendship, been lying about their identity, right down to their gender and sexuality. I don’t propose to elaborate further, out of respect for the persons affected by this deceit, but it’s yet another example of the cruel, vicious way people are capable of conducting themselves online.
Twitter are supposed to be cracking down on harassment, and making it easier to report offending accounts. Time and again, they are in the news, telling us so. And yet, what have they done, in actuality? The answer to that is simple, and blunt. They have done precisely fuck all.
After @BrownBagPantry spent an entire day targeting one user, I, and four other friends, reported all of her offending tweets. To say they are an obvious case of targeted harassment is an understatement. Between us, we sent SIXTY reports to Twitter. Other users have told me that they have reported the tweets. And what have Twitter done with such an influx of complaints? Again, fuck all. Nothing. Jack shit. (Ironicallym, whilst in the middle of writing this post, she has, for reasons best known to absolutely no one, decided to follow me.. Enjoy your block Sandra!)
It makes me question why the hell I stay on twitter. But then I look back at the extraordinary people I have met in my six or so years. People with whom I have formed close friendships, many of which go beyond the confines of social media. I have been inspired by strength and dignity with which others have conducted themselves, whilst on the receiving end of some of the most vicious harassment I have seen. And I am constantly reminded that the good FAR outweighs the bad.
When I went through cancer, people on Twitter were there for me. When I had a nervous breakdown, again, there they were; there YOU were, lending support, offering friendship and asking nothing in return.
I am fortunate in that I have exceptionally broad shoulders. Very little of the behaviour exhibited by the cesspool of deviants and cranks affects me. It does, however, affect others; people about whom I care deeply. Only today, one has self-deleted his account temporarily, whilst he assesses how to manage the continual attacks from the homeopathic community.
I am glad I am on Twitter. I’ve met some remarkable people. I’ve also met some utter arseholes. I guess that’s the price of social media. The anonymity it affords allows people to behave in a manner that, one would hope, they would NEVER behave in, away from the confines of a computer keyboard. Some people will never change. Unfortunately, for them, at least, neither will I, or the many decent, kind people who put up with, and stand up against, their crap on a daily basis.
Perhaps, one day, Twitter will finally get their act together, and start treating harassment and stalking with the severity it deserves. Until then, we are all wading through a crystal clear river, with the occasional turd floating by. Keep swimming. Eventually, all turds sink without a trace. But the river… That keeps flowing…