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This is part of the full text of the medical memoir "Cancer Patient" written by Hugh Cook. The full text has been published online on a free-to-read-online basis. This autobiographical non-fiction account deals with the author's initial health problems, diagnosis, and treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

The complete text of "Cancer Patient" is here on this web site but is also available for purchase from amazon.com as a proper printed paperback book. The full text may also be purchased as a download (a PDF file) from lulu.com for US $5. Go to lulu.com/hughcook

For a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of what's in the book (in its online version, in the PDF version and in the paperback version), see:-

Table of Contents

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CANCER PATIENT is a medical memoir which deals with the author's autobiographical experiences which involve, amongst other things, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, a brain biopsy, a lumbar puncture (and then some more lumbar punctures), treatment with Ara-C, treatment with vincristine, treatment with methotrexate, treatment with radiation from a linear accelerator, and a vitrectomy (an operation to remove the jelly from an eye). This is a non-fiction account but it does contain a couple of fictional stories, clearly identified as such, and it also includes some poetry.

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Chapter Thirty-Two

Summary

The author writes about some of the weird places he went to in his head. The chapter includes the complete text of the short story "Lordargis", which is a bit on the bizarre side.


        And now let's talk about some of the weird places I went to in my head. The preceding passage denies that cancer impacted on my creativity. However, I have to confess that some of the fiction that I wrote during the first few weeks after I was given my diagnosis is a little bizarre. I mean, more bizarre than usual. (I don't usually write fiction about the everyday mundane, about pumping gas and getting your dentistry done and stuff like that.)
        One fiction story that I wrote was about hunting dogs with firearms. The hunting was made easy for the hunters because the dogs were either chained in place or had their feet cemented into place. There are no surprises in this story. The dogs have no way to run so they inevitably get killed.
        This dog-shooting story was written at a time when people were planning to hook me up to an IV line, and, deliberately, to pump poison into my body. Without presenting me with options, for example, "Poison, or would you prefer banana cake?"
        (This dog-shooting story was not the unprovoked production of my demented imagination. I had read about canned hunting in New Zealand, where tourists got to shoot animals who were pretty much doomed to death because they had pitifully small pieces of wooded territory to hide in -- the sport of killing made efficient. When I read about that, I was reminded of something I once saw in Thailand: an advertisement for a shooting range where you could hire a gun and shoot at snakes.)
        Once I'd written my story about the canned hunting of dogs, I didn't know what to do with it. I couldn't imagine an audience for it, not even myself. So I left it untouched in the notebook in which I'd written it. And I think I've now gone and lost that particular notebook.
        Another weird story that I wrote at that time is called "Lordargis". Below is the text of "Lordargis", which perhaps hints at some of the strange places that I was going to in my head.


* * *

Lordargis


        He is working at a computer screen, making occasional little gasps which might be pleasure, pain or sheer exasperation. His upper torso is bare and sweaty. The rest of him is encased in a bulbous titanium-sheathed shoe, which shudders with unspecified energies. There are small vents in the shoe, and occasionally, from one of these, a small whiff escapes, hinting of something which is, at one and the same time, both hideously rotten and hideously overcooked.
        "Are you going to stand there all day?" he says.
        "No," I say. "Now that you've noticed me, I'm going to sit."
        And I do so, taking my ease in an armchair set out for guests. It is made of clear plastic, and there is a yellow jellyfish floating in the center of it.
        "So who are you?" he asks.
        This "he" being the man at the keyboard, not the jellyfish.
        "I'm the Tasked Man," I say.
        "The Tasked Man?" he says. "Who has tasked you? And to do what? Why have you come here?"
        "I want to ask you a question," I say.
        "And, Tasked Man, what is your question?"
        "Why have you stopped writing your diary? You know, your amusing little hell journal?"
        "Isn't it obvious?" he says. "I got promoted. Upper echelon executive. I simply don't have the time. Now get out of here."
        "Give me the password and I will."
        "I don't have the password," he says. "I only have the hint."
        "Then give me that," I say.
        "And?" he says.
        Meaning: what's the deal?
        "There is no deal," I say, putting him straight. "You either give me the hint, now, or suffer the consequences."
        I already have a number of hints, none of them particularly useful. GINANTONIC, HADDAGREAT, GEDDAFARKOUDDA and PUDDIMTOGEDDER. Of course, perhaps some of the alleged "hints" are flawed, or deliberately misleading.
        The man at the keyboard starts screaming on a high mechanical pitch, thrashing as he does so. Then he stops, wipes some slick buttery stuff off his forehead and grins at me. Or grimaces, perhaps.
        "Sorry about that," he says. "Executive stress. It all gets a bit on top of me at times. Anyway, the hint. SAD, no, that's just the start, SADONNA."
        Then he regrets having revealed the hint. But the damage is already done. I have decrypted it.
        "Sat on a wall," I say.
        I may not have nailed down the password exactly, but now I'm close to it, very close.
        And I shoot him, one, two, three times, bursting three huge holes in his skull.
        Screaming maggot things start to vent from the hole, and I turn and scarper.

* * *


        The above is the entire text of the story "Lordargis". If it doesn't make sense then that's just too bad, because the text above is all I have.
        I have no recollection of having written the story above, "Lordargis". Finding it in my notebooks is like finding an artefact from a lost civilization, a fragment from someone else's life.
        In those early weeks after my diagnosis, my mind was incredibly active, its activity stoked by dexamethasone and driven by an irresistible need to process the past, the present and the future. I obviously don't remember all of that mental adventuring, perhaps because my capacity to form memories was damaged at the time, or perhaps because my capacity to form memories got overloaded by the onrushing pressure of new thinking.

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The text on this page is part of the cancer memoir "Cancer Patient" which has been posted online. All the chapters of this book are on this website and can be read for free online. However, the text is copyright - all rights reserved. For permission to use this text or any portion of it contact Hugh Cook.

Disclaimer

        This personal memoir of the writer's encounter with cancer (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of the large B-cell type) attempts to cleave to the truth. However, the text may contain information that is wrong, outdated, incomplete or otherwise misleading.
        This memoir has been written in a time of illness by a cancer patient who, though he feels sharp enough, must admit to sometimes misinterpreting things, forgetting things, or, on occasion, quite simply not hearing things.
        This memoir is designed to communicate the writer's personal experience and is not intended as a source of medical information. Got a medical question? Ask your doctor.

Cancer Patient Copyright © 2005 Hugh Cook.

Hugh Cook

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