Thursday, 21 June 2012

Tony Song

Tony Song. Tony Song.

Finally getting to meet
I loved the sound of that tuneful name.

It appeared everywhere on the Cancer Research cancerchat forum when I visited for the first time at the beginning of 2010.

I stumbled across the site whilst sitting at home with my baldy head, on the sick from work. At first, I didn't contribute at all. I just read a few of the posts, looked at a few of the replies and clicked through the various headings. 'Symptoms, Testing and Diagnosis...' 'Coping with Cancer....'

I never clicked on 'Dying with Cancer,' though.  I was too afraid to look in that room. The door stayed firmly shut.

It became clear to me very quickly that cancer chat was quite a remarkable place. It was an anonymous place where people would post questions, write about their worries and their fears. It was a place where people could discuss cancer issues without worrying their family, with friendly strangers who did have an idea how they were feeling - offering genuine words of comfort and plenty of decent advice.

Tony Song. Tony Song. There were plenty of other regulars, but he was everywhere. He seemed to be the 'meeter and greeter' of cancer chat.

His replies were warm, welcoming, sometimes humourous and always reassuring. He wrote beautifully and honestly - somehow turning his words into something very tangible and real. I imagined many of those he conversed with on cancer chat feeling like they'd received a much needed hug.

When I finally plucked up the courage to post on cancer chat, it didn't take long before the man himself said 'hi.' I think I'd mentioned somewhere how 'blogging' had helped me cope with my cancer journey. He posted enthusiastically claiming that he too had a blog. We swapped links...and that was it, we became blogging buddies.

Before long, we were joined by 3 other bloggers from the cancer chat site. Dizzie (Carole) , Harryeleri (Rose) and Cybershot (David). We all still contributed to the cancer chat forum (myself less so) but together, we formed a wonderful but sadly brief, collective friendship as the 'Blogger 5.'

Our blogs gave us the opportunity to offer each other a HUGE amount of support. And I like to think that for each of us, on our individual cancer journeys, this support meant the world. I know it did to me.

David, Rose, Carole and Tony. My cyber friends.

Over the coming months, cancer finally took these people away. First David, then Rose.

In January of this year, I travelled to London to visit Carole - meeting her for the 2nd time in 'real life.' This time, we were to be joined by Tony. Neither of us had met him in real life, but when he finally arrived after his epic car journey with a tray full of doughnuts, it was as if we'd known him forever.

Carole, Tony and me in Jan 2012
I will never forget that very special day. Chatting and laughing- like old friends.

But then cancer finally managed to take Carole in March....and now Tony this month.

The 'Dying with Cancer' door had to be opened by all 4 of my friends, and they all did this so bravely.
I am the only one remaining from our gang of 5. The Blogger 5.

I am healthy, I am fit and I am happy. I am also very grateful and thankful to be so.

I don't feel like I have 'lost' my friends. They are no longer here in person, but they are certainly with me in spirit, and I like to think of all 4 of them together somewhere, keeping an eye on me.

Tony Song. I still think of his name as this rather than his real name - Tony Songhurst. 'Don't forget to see if his name really is on the back of his head,' said my 8 year old before I set off for London that day to meet him for the first time.

Tony's profile pic on Facebook

I must admit, I did look. But it wasn't there, much to the 8 year old's disappointment.

Tony Song. Tony Song. His tuneful name may not really be shaved into the back of his head, but along with David's, Rose's and Carole's -  it is definitely etched into my heart, and will be forever.