• Darren Roberts

Cancer has made me a nicer person.

Updated: Mar 14, 2020

Am I the only guy who believes they are a nicer person because of their cancer? Am I the only one who thinks that this terrible disease which is causing me so much pain and heartache has actually made me a better version of me?

It’s a real leveller when you get told you’re sick. You’re immediately stripped back to the core and left to feel very exposed and vulnerable. In that moment all of your senses are heightened. You feel very grounded, and real, and able to see things very clearly, with a clarity and focus that being absolutely petrified gives you. It’s almost as if you are looking down at yourself from outside your own body watching yourself prepare for war. Well that’s how it was for me.

I became very aware of the relationships that I held dear – even the ones which were not close to me. I had an overwhelming urge to make new friends with everyone. I wanted to meet people - new people – not in a weird creepy way but in a more compassionate, understanding and thoughtful way. I had an overwhelming sense of guilt that perhaps I hadn’t given people a chance and that I had been very dismissive in my life. This was one of my biggest realisations about a flaw in my character and one that I felt I needed to put right.

Now I had a definitive plan and a direction in which to move toward to finding some kind of peace and contentment within myself. I had now come face to face with my mortality. To put it simply I had an epiphany.

I wanted to listen more, to engage properly, to actually get to know people genuinely and be interested in what they had to say. I found myself making friends with people that I would not normally have given the time of day to. I forged new friendships with the people in my local town within six months and I had created a network of new ‘mates’ – my go to’s when I needed to chat. I made friends with the lady concierge in our development - Nicola thinks she’s looking for a husband – I think she’s just got impeccable taste! I love the Irish banter of the coffee chaps in Boxpark who make the best flat white in town. I’m still searching for the craic – which isn’t a euphemism as I now live in Croydon. So many amazing people – new pages to my book – new characters in my life story. Life gets really exciting when you pump the breaks and look and listen.

Family was a little harder to navigate, I left Poole when I was seventeen and became somewhat estranged from them. Now I want to put things right even after all this time. Not in a morbid ‘I’m dying’ soon way, but I felt that perhaps I hadn’t been fair over the years and that my avoidance to my feelings was just causing pain, so I embarked on some real soul searching. Some relationships just can’t be fixed overnight even with cancer, but some can, and they can become stronger.

When you get sick you just look at things in a much more stable and grounded way. The fear of the unknown is the elephant in the room. Of course I want to be cured and live happily ever after - but I tend not focus on it as it’s all consuming and doesn’t solve anything. I’m just interested in the now, and how I can better my day and make people smile.

I have cancer and it’s a fucker, but it doesn’t have to dictate the mood or build a wall between me and my friends. I don’t belittle my disease as I know so many people – friends fighting cancer battles of their own which are frightening, but I try and look at things in a much lighter way. I don’t like to give my cancer the status or a name it doesn’t deserve – I encourage my friends to do the same as it helps dilute the sadness.

So, cancer has changed me. Its changed everything. If you fancy a chat with a genuinely nice bloke (but one who used to be a bit of a twat) or just want to hang out and have a laugh, then let me introduce myself: My name is Darren – I’m really pleased to meet you.  

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