Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Awe and understanding.

Me and my dog in the centre; my friend to the right - forty years ago now...

This afternoon as I wandered from my lounge to the kitchen, I considered for a moment all the technology that’s become ubiquitous to our daily lives: the laptop by my chair, the TV and its remote, the microwave I popped a cup of coffee in to reheat…   And it occurred to me, as the phone vibrated in my pocket, that I haven’t a clue how any of it works. 

Like most of us, I can operate the gadgets we take for granted, and indeed, consider myself pretty nifty on the PC or scrolling through supposedly intuitive menus. But if you asked me how the contraptions actually function, at best I’d give a vaguely plausible narrative about digital signals or electrical circuits, before quickly drying up. 

Which is why, as the microwave pinged and I read the message that had come through seconds earlier, I'd no real understanding of the science that underpinned what it said. 

My lifelong best friend; my best man (twice) and me his (once), is going through a stem cell transplant. The process is brutal and the odds not great, but the alternative even worse. He’s the same age as me, has two boys like mine, and today is his thirtieth wedding anniversary. I spent this morning walking on the beach; the air, sea and hills lifting my spirits.  He was wired to a bed, drugs being pumped through his veins… 

Such is the lottery of life.

But thankfully, his medical treatment doesn’t work like that. I may not understand the process, and even less the deep workings of oncology, but I know it favours the fit and the courageous, and today, the deserving too.

For the message from his wife read:

Unexpected good news and the best 30th Wedding Anniversary present…. K ‘may’ be coming home on Friday. Much earlier than what constitutes normal but his bloods are definitely starting to show new cells. Whoop.

Reading her words from afar, none of my ignorance mattered a jot. Rather, as I took in the news, I felt a profound sense of awe… and a heartfelt gratitude, that we live in the time and places that we do.

Hold tight my friend and get well soon.


  1. That is an uplifting story. To be continued...

  2. Amazing to think that your friend is at the bottom of a mountain of research and advances that will one day see gene tailored medical treatments and have the residents of that time looking at our current efforts to battle cancer in the way we look at unanaethetized surgery, or treatment of infections pre-antibiotics: barbaric, backwards etc. I hope his super positive response continues in the same direction and he lives to see his kids become established adults.

  3. Another good news story this week. How wonderful if there were enough to match all the bad news stories.

  4. Good news.
    Pirate's nephew went through that process at the Royal Marsden..and marvellous now that they take your own cells and treat them, use half and keep half back just in case...and by doing that reduce rejection of the treatment compared to using a donor, however well matched

  5. Good news is always welcome, long may it continue.

  6. It doesn't matter at all that we don't understand how this amazing machinery works does it? In the past six months I have had a whole lot of scans etc. - all of which pin pointed to an nth degree exactly where there were tumours and/or spots. Now I sit here gently and so far comfortably reflecting on my 91 years of a good and happy life as I slowly leave it. Best wishes to your friend - medical matters and wonderfully clever people are working wonders every day. My decision to leave this world rather than face going through the kind of treatment your friend is having was entirely personal. My best wishes to him - hang on in there.

  7. Hari Om
    Thank all that is bountiful for those who DO understand the workings...I add my ether wishes for continued improvements for your dear friend. YAM xx

  8. I LOVE technology, and for the reason you wrote - that you received some good news about your dear friend, and it didn't take a horse, a boat, a plane or any sort of lengthy transportation for it to reach your eyes. We were handed PC's at our office in the late 80's, and told, "Here, use them." Fortunately, we were of the age that we weren't intimidated by it and we just jumped on it, and got to work and taught ourselves everything we needed to know. I've had every manner of electronic doo-dad ever since, and love them all! Don't care how they work, just care that they do. I am an information junkie and the internet has become my beloved-in-my-childhood-encyclopedia Britannica! The greatest thing IS information and knowledge. The treatment of cancer and other diseases has been greatly impacted by the ability to share new information quickly around the world. A dear friend went through her breast cancer treatment at M.D. Anderson in Texas, and LORD, the technology they use! It saved her life, as a huge university hospital here in Chicago completely missed the cancer in one of her breasts. May your friend continue to improve and thrive.

  9. I was thinking about technology only hours before I read your post. . I had just been to see Dune, Part 2, at the cinema and the latest SciFi ideas and was thinking on the train home about how advanced we are and the sci-fi writers got so many things right.

  10. May the news about your dear friend continue to be positive. These long time relationships are so important. Ten years ago I lost to ovarian cancer the one friend for whom I was once bridesmaid and I still miss talking to her so much...
    All the best, Gail.

  11. Such positive news, may it continue.

  12. So good to see you here Mark and to know you are well.
    As for your friend K, my prayers and good wishes for his swift recovery, and hopefully illness-free future, are crossing the pond by the fastest jet plane. His wife sounds awesome and I know will be of great comfort as K fights the fight.
    Blessings to all.
    Mary -

  13. We all have problems in life (I am now full time carer for my husband), but it is sad to read when someone much younger is having life-threatening issues and unpleasant medication - but hooray, it's working. Glad that they had such a wonderful 30th anniversary present, and your spirits have been lifted too.

  14. Hold tight indeed. My best wishes for the health of your friend. I don't feel that I really need to understand how things work -- after all, the world has grown so complex that it's beyond the reach of any single person to understand everything. But like you, I'm thankful I and my loved ones are living now, with the benefits of so much science and knowledge. (Even though that same knowledge makes things quite scary at times!)

  15. Good morning Mark - how I feel for you. It sounds like your friend is a fighter and is surrounded by love - two of the best ingredients for recovery. The wonders of modern science. And it is good to know that modern science is also starting to be able to prove some of the wisdom of the Ancients. We come full circle. All love and good wishes to your friend and his family - and to you and yours of course too.