Last Friday felt like a graduation of sorts. I’m nearing the end of the radiotherapy (two more sessions, or “fractions” as they call them, next Monday and Tuesday). It’s been easy from a side effects point of view – there were none, but tough in the sense of having to make daily trips to the hospital at lunchtime each day for the past two weeks. On Friday I had my review with the very-believable Mr Wilson, my consultant. Told him I had little or no side effects from the radio. “There’s still time”, said he. “That’s good to know”, thought I. “Come back for another review in 4 weeks”, he said, “and we’ll do another scan in a few months”. What about my PICC line, I asked? “It can come out”, said he. “Do you want it out today?” He whisked me around to the Chemo Day Unit and injected me into their packed schedule. A short wait later, two minutes prep, and whoosh! 48cm of thin tubing leaves me for good. I felt not a thing, even though the end of that tube was deep in my chest, near my heart.

I also injected myself for the last time last night. No more Fragmin is required to thin the blood.

I feel free.

My rational brain tells me it’s a pause. That cat that is Cancer has me in his paws and the thrill I feel is only the temporary delusion of the mouse. He’s finished with me. I can go now! Dream on.

But today, nothing can get in the way of my Wunscherfüllung.

One of the nicer parts of spending time in hospital waiting areas is that you can read. In fairness, you are not kept waiting long so the book needs to be one that can be read a few pages at a time without it being a complete waste of time. The travel diary / inner monologue style of WG Sebald is perfect for that, and so I read “To the River” by Olivia Laing. She walks the length of the River Ouse in Sussex, mainly because it was the river where Virginia Woolf committed suicide. She waded in, stones in her pocket, and drowned. The house where she and husband Leopold Woolf lived in Bloomsbury had just been bombed in the Blitz, and she was feeling the onset of the fifth mental breakdown in her life. Her suicide note is lucid (“I am certain now that I am going mad again”) and sensitive to the pain she will leave in the ones left behind (“Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness”). After she died, her husband returned to the bombed-out shell of the house in London and lived there for a while. Laurie Lee once wrote: “The half-finished buildings stood wet and empty, with a look of sudden death”, and that must be how Leopold  felt.

Maybe some day I’ll do something similar for the River Cam. Could include that story where Virginia Woolf and Rupert Brookes go skinny-dipping in Byron’s Pool one midnight. And it was Rupert Brookes who wrote that “The stream mysterious glides beneath, Green as a dream and deep as death.”

I seem to be channeling a lot of Virginia Woolf and thoughts about ghosts. I’m besotted with an album by a Scottish band called Bastard Mountain and in particular with the opening song Meadow Ghosts. Believe it or not, there are mountains in Scotland called The Bastard. The song is haunting with multi-layered hazy textures and I adore the scratchy vocals that seem to be wrung from the singers. “I sang to the night, and the night listened”.

I’m so in touch with my inner Goth.