Death Rocks

Wilko JohnsonThe sad news that Wilko Johnson, rock legend and member of iconic bands such as Dr Feelgood and Ian Drury and the Blockheads, has terminal pancreatic cancer, was tempered slightly by the news that the star describes himself as suddenly feeling ‘vividly alive’ when he was told the news by cancer specialists.

In a refreshingly open interview on Radio 4’s Front Row, he explains that following the diagnosis, he visited a specialist who told him he had nine or ten months to live, maybe a year if he underwent a course of chemotherapy.

Declining the chemo, Wilko immediately embarked on what might be the ultimate farewell tour. As he says, he won’t be singing ‘My Way’ for the next five years. He also explained that although the news was a shock, he has not cried about it, as he had often done over the loss of his wife through cancer, eight years ago.

I would like to think that I too would have the resilience and courage, given my belief in reincarnation and karma, to make the very best of each and every remaining minute. I guess the proof of that particular pudding will be something I get to test at some point, though I’m in no hurry.

It seems that the trend for people to need a sharp shock before they make those life-changing decisions is understandable, Wilko’s comment that we all need something like this to ‘knock a bit of sense into our heads’ seems to confirm that.

One comment really did hit home, particularly after my recent reticence to take my own ailments, minor though they appear to be to the doctor. Wilko said of his condition, “I noticed the symptoms a few months ago – there was this lump in my stomach. I treated it by ignoring it and hoping it would go away.”

Now there is a lesson for us all in that.

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