He was (is) a lovely man. I had to lean in to hear what he was saying. So I did. Our conversation continued and he apologized for his speech. No apology necessary, but he had identified that it was hard for me to hear (loud place aside), he was also a little ‘croakey’.

He explained that he had had cancer.

Cancer of the throat.

Three times.

He was diagnosed in 2017. The doctors recommended he have surgery. He went through the surgery and ‘radio’ and ‘chemo’. “Let’s see” they said.

A year later in 2018, the doctors did a PET Scan, and found ‘some more’, so they recommended he have surgery and ‘radio’ and ‘chemo’. “Let’s see” they said.

A year later in 2019, the doctors did a PET Scan, and found ‘some more’, so they recommended he have surgery and ‘radio’ and ‘chemo’. “Let’s see” they said.

He got his clearance a year later in 2020, and as I write, it is 2023. Finally he is three years clear.

He is such a positive, focussed, alive person … despite not having eaten solid food for 5 years. Despite having to grind the pills he needs to take daily into a powder before he can swallow them. Despite having lost so much of his throat where the surgeon had cut and cut and cut … to remove the cancer. Despite having had his vocal cords so damaged that the raspy, quiet speech is now his voice. Despite no longer having any of this teeth left because of the radiation therapy. Despite all of this and so much more … like going through all of this totally alone.

His positivity was absolutely awe inspiring.

No ‘poor me’. No ‘why me’. No ‘sad face’. Just happy and grateful to be alive - and alive he most certainly is. Living life as much to the full as he can as he put it.

All of this resonated deeply.

My cancer diagnosis was January 2021. It was identical. Both of us were ‘T2, stage 4’, with three significant differences.

As of now, it looks like we beat it … having got my two year clearance just a few weeks ago.

That said at the time, hospitalized twice, in the first visit, Jax was told to be prepared for me ‘not to make it’. I was warned that everything that Cody is experiencing could be me plus, needing a cane to walk, maybe even a wheelchair. For me, I have essentially blocked this all out (my way of coping), so this served as a massive wake up call … a bigger one than I experienced when I walked into a new doctor who looked past me waiting for ‘John’ … expecting to see me hobbling in at best. Or another doctor here in the US who knew my background from the advance files that he had received and was stunned that they hadnt operated and ‘looked this good’.

Sure I have side effects, some of which I am told will be with me for the rest of my life, but compared to Cody … so insignificant that I shouldn’t mention it. I tend not to, but sometimes people ask.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a ride!’”

💬 Hunter S Thompson

.. I try, but ain’t nothing compared to Cody who is doing just that … in Spades.

This is a story from my occasional series ‘🖇️ Travels Without Charley’ - my small ‘homage’ to John Steinbeck. The names are changed to protect the innocent, but they are all true and based on conversations I have had with people that I have met around the world … and who’s story resonates.

This particular one - more than any other in the published (and unpublished) series - resonated more than any other.