Nobody Told Me This...

Cancer strips you of your dignity. Repeatedly.

Some things they tell you about. Hair loss. We all know that. But there are other indignities nobody talks about.

Like the flatulence. Not once is that mentioned as a side effect of chemotherapy in any of the literature I was given. Not. A. Word.

And I'm not talking delicate toots here. No. I'm talking about raucous ruddy thundering blasts. I swear, one departed me with such ferocity the other day, I was convinced it must have pushed the Earth out of its orbit. (Someone should check that, by the way. Could be quite serious.)

What's worse, you don't get any warning. There you are happily chatting away, next thing: level-11 roaring butt detonation.

When I'm done with Hercule, I'm going to write a no-holds-barred exposé of life as a cancer patient called So, You've Got Cancer? That's the Least of Your Worries, Mate.

Here's something else they didn't tell me. Chemo can shrink your willy. They're all upfront and in your face about the infertility, but nothing about shrinkage! It's not like I've got a lot to work with here as it is!

Imagine every time you go for a tinkle, you're not entirely sure the required equipment is still there.

Welcome to my life.

The Way It Has to Be

There should be a cartoon here. I don't have the energy.

To be honest. This week has been very hard, both mentally and physically. The hardest yet. I'm not good to be around.

The chemotherapy has ruined me. Everything about me is working at 50% or less: mind and body. Writing is hard. Words used to come easily. Now I have to go looking for them. Cartooning is more effort than I can give. So no cartoon this week. Here's the script instead:

Panel 1: 
Hercule bobbing along merrily.

Panel 2
A voice out of frame says, "Excuse me, sir?"
Hercule turns to see who it is.
Hercule: "Yes?"

Panel 3:
Gilbert punches Hercule hard in the face with a boxing glove.

Panel 4:
Roger jubilantly standing over Hercule.
Roger: "Take that you bastard! How does that feel?!"

Panel 5:
Roger standing over Hercule.
A voice out of frame says, "Excuse me, sir?"
Roger turns to see who it is.
Roger: "Yes?"

Panel 6:
Gilbert punches Roger hard in the face with a boxing glove.

Panel 7:
Roger on the ground in a heap next to Hercule.
Roger: "Gilbert, WTF?!"
Gilbert: Sorry, sir. It's just the way it has to be.

Losing Things: Fitness 

In case you don't know: I run. Used to, anyway. I haven't put my runners on in weeks now.

I wasn't fast, but I could go long. Marathon long. This year, I wanted to go beyond a marathon and signed up for my first ultra-marathon. A relatively short one, 58km. I know, that sounds disingenuous. But in ultra-marathon world, 58km is beginner's stuff. My dream is to complete a 100-mile event. (By the way, 100-mile races have become so mainstream, people are looking at 200-mile events as 'a proper challenge'.)

Weeks of being confined to a bed have eroded my fitness levels. By the time I am good and ready to run again, only traces of my former fitness will be left.

This makes me curious, though. When I get back to running, how much better will I be at it? After all, I won't have a passenger anymore. My oncologist doesn't know how long Hercule was growing inside me. Possibly a year. If true, it means I ran three marathons with him on board.

I don't know whether that makes a difference. Maybe he had no effect on my running whatsoever. Nevertheless, I choose to believe he is responsible for my disappointing times, rather than me.

Look, if you can't get cancer and use it as an excuse, where's the fun?


If you'd like to receive a more detailed account of my tussle with Hercule, maybe you'd like to sign up for the Roger v Hercule newsletter here: Roger v Hercule.

Roger Overall