As you’ve probably spotted, my social life of late has been a bit more exciting than it was for the previous nine months or so… This has been wonderful, as I’ve tried to make the most of having decent blood counts for a change. It is very hard to be stuck in hospital, or sitting at home while neutropaenic, knowing that all my friends are meeting up, having fun, making more friends and living life to the full, but I suppose it makes it even more special when I can do so.

It has brought up an interesting issue, though… At a couple of parties I’ve been to, there have been more people I didn’t know than I did know. Both times, I didn’t really want to make an issue of being ill, and told myself I’d not mention it unless it directly came up. This was firstly because I don’t want to be defined by my leukaemia, and secondly because I fear that some people may not be sure how to respond.

However, there was a big flaw in that plan. Naturally, when you meet someone, one of the first questions is going to be along the lines of ‘what do you do?’ or ‘what have you been up to?’ Of course, I could lie and claim to have been hunting crocodiles, or reviewing books, or something similar, but nor do I want to hide the fact that I’m ill… So I usually go, ‘erm, well, I’ve been quite ill so I’ve mostly been in hospital.’ I guess that’s the right answer, and leaves people with the opportunity to ask more if they want, or move swiftly on if they prefer. I often try to slip a joke in, to keep the mood light, by saying things like, ‘I’ve been having cranial radiotherapy… hence the stylish baldness’.

Different people do react in different ways, and in some ways having leukaemia is a good conversation piece. It’s not ideal, though. And in some ways I suppose I love the sympathy hehe… I’m not really quite sure what this post is driving at, as overall I haven’t really come to any conclusion: I don’t want to be defined by my leukaemia, but I don’t want to hide it either. And most people are good, really: I don’t think I am defined by it when I tell people… At least I hope not.

23 thoughts on “So what do you do?

  1. Dearest George
    Hi, sorry for the long blog gap but twas great to talk/hear your voice a couple of weeks ago.
    Good to see you look much better in the photo, a wee bit fuller in face…well done.And social life obviously benefits to boot!
    Full on here,Bdays for Ben and Clare and final exams looming for C too,Athletics and Hockey finals…
    All our love ALWAYS, God Bless,
    Caroline ++++++ xxxxxx

  2. I can see that might cause problems… freelance medical journalism might perhaps be an alternative answer next time you’re bored. After all, you have been very good at keeping this blog, and all of us, updated on your progress – in issues medical, spiritual* and comedic-al!

    *by which I also mean your own spirits and not just religion!

  3. Ciao, ciao…good to hear you’ve been making the most of your freedom and sorry I haven’t been around to share it with you. Perhaps you should try telling people you’ve just come out of prison for an even more interesting range of reactions…
    xxx R

  4. Darling George,

    I don’t know if this is any consolation, but I have ALWAYS refered to you as ‘a lovely guy with a tender heart & an amazing voice’, so you see, I you see I haven’t needed to change my description in the slightest!

    Please don’t let any new reactions (good or bad) change you!

    Now I MUST stop procrastinating, (even though chatting to you is MUCH more fun!) & get some work chores done!

    Love you loads,

  5. George,
    I don’t think you are defined by it – I define you as bubbly, smiley, fun etc… I won’t carry on as you might be sick!
    Lots of hugs, Ellie x

  6. I guess runaway rap star would not be too convincing, eh Wu-Tang?

    Suspect you probably have the balance right, here. I think of you as a consultant on all things Neapolitan ;).

  7. I read your post and was just going to comment that my idiot brother had no problems ‘defining’ you as Wu-Tang. Maybe that’s what your visor should say. Can you bring it tomorrow? I want to wear it and confuse people. Can’t wait to see you.

  8. Hmmm,no comment for a while as i have been ‘doing time'(very interesting time at that especially as i am on the considerably more comfortable side of the fence) at the national cancer centre here in singapore…i believe there is a world of difference between ‘a leukaemic patient’ and ‘our cousin,nephew george who happens to be having treatment for leukaemia’because we all happen to have many selves past,present and future…so don’t forget to hit them with the other selves too-if in doubt make it up(P says this is always the best approach!)oh dear hilarious is rambling & thoughts from us all as always…feel like helping with next assignment-you are extremely well qualified!hilx

  9. George,
    It is so good to hear that you have been able to get out and about over the last few weeks. It is so good news. Off to the Emerald Isle (Dublin) to stay with my brother and my sister-inlaw and off course my nephew/godson. speak to you soon.
    Phil Wilkinson

  10. Mmmmm a interesting thought you have there!? And one that could probably spark many long debates, about what defines us as individuals! But one I shall leave others to ponder over, as you are just the legend that is George!

  11. Hello, George. It’s Jenni B – from Jesus – lived with Jono in the third year at Barts? Will this appear online? Just a personal message, really. I got engaged recently – to Francis – don’t know if you guys ever met. Just to say – thinking of you. Peace. Jenni

  12. hello porge

    just to say hello really – i’m finding it rather pesky that you’re in and out of hospital so much these days (although of course, it’s generally preferable for you to be out than in!!) – but it does mean it’s more difficult to arrange visits!
    maybe next week?

    ali xx

  13. Good evernink Georgyporgyandbess,
    sorry for the longtimenocomment, but been imping in scotchland and drinking in ireland and now sadly back to working in engerland. Glad to here you’ve been enjoying that marvellous place called the outside world and that you got some more energy about you in this luverly hot summer weese’re havin…

    um, i’d witter on about what i’ve been doing specifically and how much i wanna stroke your head and how your illness defines you about as much as my kneecaps define me but the accumulated pints of guinness inside me want to go to bed…

    So adieu and goodnight sweet prince and i’ll join you for some more focussed witterings anon…

    your humble servant and banana-worrier,


  14. Hey gorgeous cousin, sounds like you have been having more of a social life than I have, good on you and hope that you are enjoying it. It must be hard when you are meeting lots of new people and having to explain but you are still you, and fabulous at that. Will hopefully see you very soon. LOL M-S xxxx

  15. Ecco, ora si che posso scrivere…sebbene non sia superstiziosa(fattore presente nel dna di ogni persona napoletana…), non avevo nessuna voglia di essere la 17esima a scrivere.(da qui i puntini anonimi che precedono il mio intervento).puoi perdonarmi?please…;-)
    Non che il numero 17 non mi piaccia,ma sai…(no, mi sa di no;-)
    Anyway,per passare a cose più rilevanti…stavo pensando in che termini ti descrivo quando qualcuno mi chiede di te…ok…fatto, ci ho pensato.ti risparmio il lungo elenco….ciò che conta è che prima e dopo…il mio punto di vista n è mai mutato…beh, ad essere onesta….un pochetto si:alla luce della malattia,mi sono resa conto di due altre grandi qualità:forza e coraggio da vendere.questo per quello che riguarda me…
    per chi non ti conosce,ed è in procinto di farlo,ci metto la mano sul fuoco che n valuterà la tua persona solo alla luce del fatto che tu sia un paziente che si stia curando.ti conoscerà per quello che sei:una persona estremamente speciale,e il fatto che tu parli della malattia non potrà far altro che raccontare un pezzettino della tua vita che come tutte le esperienze di vita,ti ha arricchito.Penso che le persone ragionino e siano quello che sono soprattutto in virtù degli avvenimenti che giorno dopo giorno si manefistano nelle loro vite,è come se si costruissero giorno dopo giorno.parlarne dunque non può essere che un fatto positivo per te e per chi ti sta di fronte, a condizione- sia chiaro- che alla persona faccia piacere parlarne(come dici tu, le persone sn diverse e reagiscono diversamente..)
    detto questo,che resta solo un mio punto di vista(e in quanto tale trascurabile),vivi i rapporti come senti di fare…con disinvoltura:-)

    Quanto vai forte…tu neanche te ne rendi conto….

    ti abbraccio George

    con affetto


  16. Oddio….ho davvero scritto troppo questa volta…(non sembrava cosi lungo quando scrivevo)!!!vabbè…potrai leggerlo a tappe….tipo tra un pasto e l altro….;-)


  17. As you can see George my Darling, you’ve converted me & now I’m a blogger! Yay!

    What the devil have you done?! Tee Hee!

    Love you,

  18. To me you are still ‘the bloke with the flat cap who sat on my knee at Will’s birthday party’. 😉 I don’t know if you even remember that; it was an awfully long time ago now!

  19. You am what you am george douglas! (does that remind you of one of daddy’s better jokes??)
    You might be interested to look up ‘blind summit’, the band of one of my work buddies, recently won Battle of the Bands! Can be viewed on myspace, and are the blind summit from edinburgh!enjoy! xx
    ps looking forward MUCHLY to seeing you pronto

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