Publication February 2019.
TERMINAL ILLNESS-MAXIMUM LIFE EXPECTANCY SIX MONTHS screamed the DS1500 form handed to me by the senior clinical nurse at the ENT (ear, nose and throat) Department of Blackpool Victoria Hospital. I stared into space as the silence drowned the screams. The DS1500 form is a document enabling terminally sick patients to be in immediate receipt of government benefits….by-passing the bothersome interviews and red-tape. To be honest I didn’t give a monkey’s because all I could focus on was my impending death. It was there in black and white that I was about to snuff it and I was shitting bricks. I had been diagnosed with inoperable stage four mouth cancer. There was no cure. I squeezed my beautiful wife’s hand and gazed into her eyes as the truth stabbed my heart; the Grim Reaper would soon be taking me away from the woman I loved more than anything in the whole wide world. Then I thought about my four children. I almost burst into tears, but I didn’t. After all boys and sad old men dying of cancer don’t cry, do they?
The remainder of that day in April 2012 was a blur.
In June 2015, much to everyone’s astonishment I was still breathing in and out in the land of the living. I wasn’t jumping for joy though because I was still tip-toeing on very thin ice. I hadn’t been given the all-clear and statistics shouted that it was odds-on that the bastard big C would make an unwelcome return. Each day I flirted with death. Sadly, I was no longer holding my pretty wife’s hand because she had abandoned me two years earlier; just when I needed her most. That was far more painful than the cancer and the harrowing hospital treatment. Morphine couldn’t numb that wound. I was alone fighting for my life and single-handedly raising two children who had been abandoned too! Jo aged four and fourteen-year-old Eugene. I refused to die because my kids needed me…. they had no one else.
I was chronically sick and depressed as I struggled to make ends meet in Blackpool. I wondered what on Earth I could do to change my dreary life. Even if I miraculously defeated the cancer, I would be doomed to live a hand-to mouth existence trapped on benefits. I was unemployable. My madcap mind decided to write the very book you now have in your hand. I was an unknown author who had never written anything before, but undeterred I grasped at straws and began scribbling. If I was still alive two and a half years after being given just six months to live, then publishing a book should be a piece of piss, or so I thought. I had planned to publish within 12 months, but it took nearly four years of blood sweat and tears. I had no experience of writing a book and revisiting that soul-destroying period played havoc with my broken mind. The trauma of sifting through photographs and videos from both the harrowing cancer battle as well as earlier happier times left me crushed and broken. I would stare at my laptop screen as rivers of tears ran down my face. I would awaken in the dead of night in a cold sweat from a distressing nightmare, either about dying of cancer or being betrayed by the woman I loved. On top of that it was an overwhelming task not only writing but battling with the constant fatigue caused by my radiotherapy damaged thyroid. And I had all the bloody housework and two young children to care for all by my lonesome self too. Well, you can dry your eyes now coz the violins have stopped playing. The good news is that by the time of publication, I had 526 paid for pre-orders. Not bad for a nobody hey? However, there will be no dosh for me because all the proceeds from the pre-orders were for charity. Anyway, I will stop babbling on and let you know that I have everything crossed that once this jaw-dropping tale hits the bookshop shelves it kicks arse and my kids and I can finally take a welcome holiday in the sun.
Originally, my intention was to have you gripped in page-turning terror by flinging you straight into the horror from page one but on reflection my psychedelic soul decided to take you on a little pleasure trip first. Hopefully, the first five chapters covering my eccentric life up until January 2012 won’t take the focus away from the vegan meat and spuds of this soul-crushing tale…namely the struggle for life under the most distressing circumstances you could possibly imagine. So, sit back in comfort and enjoy the initial journey to the centre of my mind as you taste adventures in far-off lands, and strange rib-tickling anecdotes. I ask you to envisage that you are my hearty shipmate as we embark on a reckless voyage across an unexplored ocean boldly going where no ship has gone before. A little word of warning my loyal companion; the first five chapters will be smooth sailing but once we reach ‘chapter six’ wear your life-jacket and cling on for dear life because we will be battered by the perfect storm. All hell will break loose as we desperately fight for survival on a spine-chilling white-knuckle ride to death.
Are you ready to accompany me on the most terrifying journey of your life? In all due respect, this ocean trip is not for the lily-livered. So, do yourself a massive favour and take ‘time out’ to consider whether the adrenalin rush of this petrifying odyssey is the thing for you? Still dying to join up? I must say that your bravery is admirable; I hope you don’t live to regret it! Sign right here on the dotted line my trusty mate, don your sailor’s suit and cap, grab a glass of grog and sit down next to me.
Welcome aboard and welcome to my nightmare.