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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


diary       site contents       essays       stories       flash fiction       poems       novels

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.

Table of Contents

Chapter Fifty-Eight


The cancer patient discusses the meaning of his encounter with cancer, and arbrives at the conclusion that he achieved no karmic insights. But he did learn something from the experience. He learnt that he was his daughter's father. This is no small thing to learn.

        So what does it all mean, my encounter with cancer? For me, what is the inner significance of having had cancer? Broadly speaking, none, nothing, zero. I achieved no karmic insights. I failed to be enlightened as to my relationship with the universe. Rather, the whole thing was like being in a train wreck. The smash of the derailing of my life was an unmotivated disaster which came upon me from the invisible corners of nowhere, devoid of any significance save the threat to my life.
        Okay, admittedly, I learnt that I was mortal. I learnt that the future doesn't exist, unless it's a future starting right here, now, today. Other futures, such as the imagined leisures of old age and retirement? They're imaginary. But that was a lesson I'd already absorbed long before I fell ill. Being ill merely foregrounded this basic truth of human existence: we are mortal and we none of us live very long.
        And beyond that?
        There was only one thing that surprised me, only one thing which came upon me with the force of revelation.
        So what did I learn?
        I learnt that I am my daughter's father. At one point the phrase "she is my immortality" went through my mind. All going well, she will continue after I am gone. To say so seems risky, as if the mere thinking of the desired outcome could place it in hazard.
        My consciousness of hazard and risk teaches me how glad I am that I am my daughter's father, that she is alive, that she has the capacity to live beyond me. And this is the new thing, the unexpected thing which has emerged from my siege of medical experience. To feel in my heart's core the preciousness of a life which is not my own.

Table of Contents

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.


        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