A quick word with cancer

Lemmy, David Bowie, and Alan Rickman each battled cancer in their 70th year.
Lemmy, David Bowie, and Alan Rickman each battled cancer in their 70th year.

First Lemmy, then David Bowie, and now Alan Rickman. Cancer is having a cracking Christmas break.

Tributes have been flowing, virtually non-stop, over the holiday season as a succession of British entertainment giants, aged 69 (or near enough) succumbed to the ravages of cancer.

The first to fall was Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, the warty-chopped bassist and growler for rock n’roll legends Motörhead. He died on December 28, only two days after receiving the news of his terminal illness and only two weeks after walking off stage in Berlin after a punishing run of concerts. Lemmy died just four days after turning 70.

David Bowie took his final bow on January 10, just two days after the release of his disturbing new record, Blackstar. First the internet debated whether or not the news was actually true, as his illness had been kept almost entirely secret, and then despaired when his son Duncan confirmed it beyond all doubt on Twitter. The Starman was 69.

Alan Rickman, an actor best known for being a shady villainous bastard in everything from Die Hard to Harry Potter to Love Actually, passed away yesterday. The veteran of stage and screen, who only started his film career in his forties, was 69.

Standing in the shadows, laughing all the way, was cancer.

While the world mourns the loss of three cultural icons – and casts nervous glances at Mick Jagger, Elton John, Ozzy Osbourne, and others – we here at Cake Oven set about getting the truth from the horse’s mouth.

We’ve heard many stories, but we haven’t heard this one.

Cancer lives in a small, two-bedroom flat in a run-down part of town. The floors haven’t seen the business end of a vacuum cleaner in months, maybe years. The walls are plastered with newspaper clippings and old posters from Kerrang! magazine. The spaces in between are spiderwebbed with permanent marker scribbles, ranging from slightly sexual limericks to antipolitical slogans.

Curiously, there’s not a syringe or empty beer bottle or ashtray in sight. All this nastiness, but no evidence of a single vice. I asked the couple in the flat next door about this on  my way out. Apparently he won’t touch the stuff.

“He says they’re unhealthy.”

Right then.

Cancer: 69’s not such a funny number anymore, is it?
Cake Oven: Was it important to you to suck the fun out of it? Is that what you were hoping to achieve?
Cancer: Look. I’ve never denied that I am a complete and utter bastard. I really am. I hate everyone and everything, and that’s just me. It’s punk rock, isn’t it? It’s rock n’ roll. It’s anarchy, mate, and I’m the most anarchic of the whole lot. I just don’t give a solid toss what you think.
Cake Oven: How can you say that? Surely you care about something. Don’t you want friends?
Cancer: They call me the Big C for a reason. Cookie Monster’s like me. Starts with C, consumes everything in his path, but he isn’t relevant. He’s a bloody goose. He’s also fictitious. I’m the real deal.
Cake Oven: You’re proud of your 69icide, but what about Lemmy? He made it to 70. You didn’t get that o-
Cancer: [Waving a finger] He’s still dead, isn’t he? Even I slow down a bit at Christmas, but I got him and I’m bloody well pleased.
Cake Oven: But he didn’t have time to settle his affairs, or say goodbye to his family and fans. People thought he’d live forever. Same as Bowie. The world is in mourning and 2016’s only two weeks old. When are you going to stop? What will it take? Did you have to take Severus Snape too? Are you trying to out-murder George RR Martin?
Cancer: Who?
Cake Oven: The Game of Thrones guy.
Cancer: Right. He hasn’t finished his books yet, has he? [I nod.] Good to know.

There’s no getting around it. Cancer is an absolute bastard, and not the good Jon Snow kind of bastard. The kind that steals lives and leaves sadness and confusion in its wake. This summer we’ve said farewell to some beloved entertainers, and our thoughts are absolutely with those of you whose own lives have been touched by this horrible disease.

You can say “fuck cancer.” You can say and do anything that helps you take control of your situation. You can also, if you’re so inclined, support the Cancer Society of NZ.

From us to you, cancer: Just give it a rest.

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