The sun was pelting down as I drove home yesterday when I heard the news of David Bowie’s death on the radio. My stomach flipped, blood ran cold and I concentrated extra hard on the road ahead as my mind fumed with one thought:“Fuck you, cancer”.
Fuck you for taking our talent, our loved ones, friends and family.
Fuck you for spotting heroes, brave men and women with meaningful lives ahead of them and whisking them away.
Cancer is the dark scourge lurking around every corner; the black, insatiable beast that growls in the faces of our most cherished and selfishly plucks them from our sides leaving a heartbreaking void. This is the foul face of evil, the terrorist of health and thief of opportunity.
Every single one of us has been touched by cancer in some way; a health scare, a loved one’s battle or loss, an emotional story of a stranger’s battle that’s moved us to tears. It’s as rife as it is unfathomable – but we must not admit defeat and let this bully win.
On Sunday September 28th 2014 my dear friend Gavin Reeve-Daniels lost his fight with pancreatic cancer. Years before, I had sat next to him at the magazine we worked at where we named each other ‘Robin’ and ‘Robin’; double the energy to empower our editor, ‘Batman’. Gav creatively sketched his way through meetings, fizzed through brainstorms and brought warm, amusing tales about his beloved wife to the office. With a courage, bravery and strength I’d never seen before, he broke the news of his diagnosis on social media so his friends and family could rally round with what we termed ‘Chumotherapy’. This bubbling banter and unwavering support proved to be a welcome antidote to his gruelling chemotherapy.
One day, drained by the devastating disease, he curled up in the garden with his two-year-old son and shared a bowl of strawberries. Beautifully, he coined the term ‘strawberry moments’ for those sweet moments in life we share with our loved ones. He inspired all of us remain upbeat, courageous and positive in the face of sheer horror.
The UK media rallied with various fundraising events raising funds for ‘Gav Aid’ in conjunction with Macmillan Cancer Research. He and his wife had t-shirts made up with the slogan ‘C**ting Cancer’ on which set social media alight with agonising, raging defiance. They both wrote heartbreakingly honest posts on social media, breaking down stigma, letting people into their brave battle and shining a spotlight in the face of a demon who likes to hide in the dark.