Cocktail Hour

Mine’s a margarita. But as with any cocktail, it has to be  just so. Combine agave tequila with a small amount of agave nectar. Add freshly squeezed lime, no pips, but some pulp.  A bit of rough. So, too, the ice. Crushed but not too granular. There is of course only one salt – Maldon – to use. This has to be crunched by hand into smaller pieces before the rim of the glass is rolled in it. For me, it’s got to be a good quarter of an inch round the edge. And the glass has to be a classic cocktail glass with a tall stem and wide rim circumference. Only have one. Sometime after 6 and before 8.
It’s not just the combination of ingredients that has to be spot on. Nor the ratio between them. The magic lies in the mix, because when it’s on target each individual ingredient stands out so much better than on its own.
Same for fighting TEF.
I’m now on so many therapies I have visions of Maureen Lipman in that ‘80s ad for BT were she praises her grandson for getting ‘an ‘ology. “You get an ‘ology and you’re a scientist!”. I get a therapy and I’m cured! If only it were that simple.
Here’s what I’ve done and am doing, four months in:
–          Immunotherapy
–          Radiotherapy
–          Chemotherapy
–          Electrotherapy
Supplemented with aspirin, celebrex, melatonin, levetiracetam (note to normal people: you can gain subconscious bonus points from consultants if you call meds by their real names, not the brands), calcium, vitamin d, vitamin b, frankincense (oh yeah – and sniffed, what’s more). Next week I finalize the additional 15+ supplements I’m considering adding to that list. Then there’s the medical marijuana to add into the mix. Oh, and I haven’t even talked about the ketogenic diet I’m following. All I need now is Tom Cruise – hang on, I don’t think any of us need Tom Cruise anymore – or Mr Bond to shake, not stir….
So my University of Life course has narrowed of late, with my growing specialism in oncology. Bit tough when I was always hopeless at science. Luckily I took the precaution of marrying into a Medic Mafia, aka the Pilkingtons. Where they help probe the finer details of a PD-I checkpoint inhibitor, I default to my historian training.
The most successful patient advocacy movement of the 20th Century has got to be the Aids lobby.  Aided (sorry) by years of dogged campaigning, the patients knew how to get their voice heard. They didn’t just craft a case and blast the medical research establishment. They tipped urns of ashes over the White House lawn. They blended a unique campaigning cocktail, while the medics blended a range of antiretroviral medicines.  The resulting cocktail has turned what was certain to lead to a swift tombstone into a manageable disease.
A decade ago, the buzzword amongst many oncologists was targeted therapies. The mapping of genes and greater understanding of individuals’ genetic make-up would inevitably lead to individual therapies for each unique patient. But it isn’t just patients who are complex. Cancer is really a name for a wide-ranging, highly complex group of diseases, many of whom have a tendency to dodge bullets and morph into new horrors, in much the same way a Hollywood action movie makes the impossible believable. Sadly, when it comes to cancer, it’s true.
Fighting with a complex array of armory that both blocks as many pathways the cancer cells seek to fight back from, as well as present strengths borne from the synergy of the cocktail mix, is a route many in the cancer world are now pursuing.
Makes sense to me. But if only they could relate it to fabulous alcohol it might sound a bit more exciting, non? It’s not for nothing I’m in PR.
In other news…
The electrodes are on. The backpack is full. The imaginatively named ‘device’ is lit. And the batteries come and go. I started Optune, made by Novocure, last Thursday. The company sent a charming chap round to run through the whole malarkey. I couldn’t actually understand a word he said, but luckily the website has lots of useful videos. Except of people I can relate to.
So the day before he comes round, I wait until everyone’s left the house. I creep into the bathroom and tentatively start shaving the little hair I have left. I discover Ed’s shaving cream. Who knew guys have it so easy? Off it came. And then, thanks to the Kardashian gels, I take a selfie. Time to bust out of the help site and seek support, encouragement and energy from the world…. via facebook. Wowee! I thought the only way to get a compliment out of you lot was to post a pic of the kids. Who knew I was Charlize Theron, or the one from Ex Machina?
One of my big fears was how people in the street would stare at me. But what I hadn’t clocked was that when they stare, they make sure I don’t see them doing it. Which is exactly what I do when I see someone looking a bit different. More importantly, I hadn’t anticipated how proud I would feel, having embraced a treatment many are uncertain of, yet which doesn’t include any toxicity. When I met Deb and Claire at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, I found myself tearing off the headscarf, and asking Deb to film me as I walked around the market. Few starers betrayed themselves. I started wondering about how to draw more attention to my head, rather than less. Why a fake wig when my old hair was so past its sell by date? Jude – surely Damien could be persuaded to paint some dots on the ceramic dishes pressed to my skull? Let’s be proud and confident that despite whatever, wherever and however TEF tries, it Will. Not. Succeed.
Which reminds me. Another one to add to the list:
–          Psychotherapy.
Back to Stephen Jay Gould, whose writings are continuing to blow my mind. Take this: “Science is not a heartless pursuit of objective information. It is a creative human activity, its geniuses acting more as artists than as information processors.”
After all that meandering, I think I deserve a  very special cocktail.
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