When we talked about this piece, Story within a story, our reflections on it were different. We agreed that in sharing Cameron’s journey, this was the next story in the chronology, following the blogs and writings that he, and then us, in his stead, had posted so far. This is what came after discovering his second tumour, Webster, and this was what he wrote next.
But we both have more than Cameron’s writings in his online documents. We have his paper journals, and we have our messages to and from him at that time, and we also have our memories.
Nathan talked about what he remembered, and Teresa talked about what she remembered, and both our stories are different from Cameron’s.
So we decided to publish this blog alongside our own memories. Perhaps call them companion pieces, or perspectives, or a commentary. One of the responsibilities and one of the privileges of being the custodians of a legacy, is that we choose what we share. We decide what to publish and what to keep just for ourselves, for his family. But one of the things we are both clear on is that whatever we share of Cameron, it is as close to the truth as we can find. And in this story, there are multiple sides to the truth.
Which is kind of ironic, given that he named this piece “Story within a story”.
So on the 4th anniversary of his passing, we are still writing and sharing his life and legacy together. Here is Cameron’s next blog, from September 2017.
And click here for Nathan’s story.
And here for Teresa’s story.
Thank you for reading,
Nathan & Teresa, 2 April 2023
Story within a story
How do I tell this story? There are so many different ways and yet none of them seems to convey the truth. Is it an adventure story, venturing into the unknown where any moment might bring disaster? Is it a comedy, full of slapstick and belly laughs? Is it a horror story where the murderous monster is always close waiting to strike? Or maybe a dramatic tragedy? The truth is, it is a mixture of all of them. Something completely serious and yet completely ludicrous.
The story began slowly, but quickly picked up, until all of a sudden it seemed to have begun. There was no “Once upon a time…” It just started.
The signs were there but I was choosing to ignore them. Like when you yell at the screen of a horror movie “Run away!”, but the character never does, and somehow seems to do the exact opposite of what would be best for them.
The pain was increasing and the signs were not just pointing, but were screaming: “Listen you fool! Pay attention!”
The pain increased, and once again the darkness descended.
It was an interesting scene. A room with the lights out, but still I was lying there with my sunglasses on and my eyes closed. I had presented to the emergency department with severe photophobia and a few other symptoms.
The voices had my attention finally. I always seem to learn the hardest way. “You need to deal with this now. We wanted you to run the other way!” Instead, I had run directly into Webster, though I didn’t know it yet. The Doctor came in. “We need to get a scan.” I couldn’t see at all, and the doctors needed to use a machine to see what was going on. I guess we were all blind. Ironic? (The reality is, we are all blind, but that is probably another blog post!)
The curtain burst open as the doctor came in brandishing the treasure map. “Cameron, you know this territory here. It’s Timmy land. That’s charted territory. But over here, where this X lies…? Here we need to get a better look at.”
Skipping forward… hours, days, weeks later… it’s all a blur; Time in pain hours isn’t the same as real time.
My surgeon sat down with me, explaining the scans. “I wish it were different.”
Webster had taken up residency deep in my brain, in a spot where surgery is not a viable option.
Explaining what the scan shows brings the appropriateness of the name to light.
Between Timmy and Webster, they have created a web of cancer cells that have spread through the right side of my brain. More accurately, through my Parietal lobe, Frontal lobe, Corpus callosum, and in my Temporal lobe. Webster’s web is not a good candidate for surgery, the hero of the first line of defence.
With that potential hero swiftly dispatched, Webster became suddenly much more threatening and powerful. Its muscles visibly bulged and it sneered at me, daring me to make the next move. My moves were limited. I’d already played the radiotherapy card, a card that can’t be played twice.
It was time to regroup as the trap tightened. Surrounded on all sides. Searching desperately for something… anything, to cut through this entangled mess. No length too impossible to strive for. A few long shots jumped to hand. There was no guarantee any would work, but hope where reality was squeezing out hope felt like a win.
Finally a tool to face this reality. Facing the reality was the important thing, not being blind to the difficulties or substituting blind positivity. Staying positive is a good thing, but blind positivity without acknowledging reality is dangerous. Complacency creeps in and really it is just distracting away from life. I was scared, but that fear was important. Being blindly positive would have been easy and could have been incredibly damaging. So much learning missed, and opportunities lost. The difficulty of maintaining positivity while facing reality is a much more worthwhile path, and a much less used one. It can be lonely, but the view is worth it.
While walking this path, the radiotherapy card appeared again. It was a risky card to play. A lot could go wrong. I’d be damaging healthy brain tissue, but it would be the fastest to act, and still leave chemo as a backup plan. If I did chemo first then it would be unlikely I’d cope with radio. So radio was the hero needed.
A saviour of hope appears, and now this wedding is seeming more feasible.
(Cameron Gill, September 2017)
Want to learn more about Cameron Gill’s journey, his legacy, and his legacy projects? CLICK HERE for Cam’s official Facebook legacy page. We have heaps more of his story to share, so like and follow to stay updated.