Huddersfield-born Nadio Granata is a chef turned marketing, PR and publishing guru who now lives on a house boat on the Thames. Last year he charted his battle with throat cancer with a warts and all blog. Now he’s recovered and is back in rude health. Here are his thoughts 12 months on. It’s powerful stuff on an emotive subject.
Beeep beep. Beeeeep beep.
Beeeep beep. Beeeep beeep.
The mechanical sound of life ringing all around. Beeping its warnings.
I wrote this exactly 12 months ago from the chemotherapy ward at Charing Cross Hospital. I remember it well as I sat there in the high back chair, in a ward that was more like a waiting room in a train station full of ‘chemo envy’ as I eyed up my dose of chemo compared to others around me.
It was the start of a journey which today reaches its 12-month anniversary.
I have catalogued my journey with frequent blogs and the occasional poem. At one point, I declared I would not be writing any more, as I felt then that the cathartic release it brought me would no longer be required. I was cured. Right. So why continue talking about it?
I am still cured. And the emotion with which I write this punctuation point in the journey of a cancer sufferer, is very different to that which started the blog.
Today’s walk back down memory lane has reminded me how f****** tough it really was. I say this not as soft p***** looking for sympathy. No thank you. I write it as a realist who has had over 20,000 readers of a blog that comes with some responsibility. If you are reading this as a cancer patient, then I’ll not dress it up.
If you have been treated for cancer and you are reading this as a ‘survivor’, then you’ll know what I mean.
And if you are related to someone who is heading into treatment, or, sadly not survived, then my heart reaches out to you. Your emotions will no doubt be all over the place.
My story has always been accompanied with the tagline that ‘a cancer diagnosis does not have to be a death sentence.’
Treatments are so much more successful these days. And even chemotherapy is not so horrendous as it used to be (well, that’s so they told me).
To those who are going through it, I say this…
Surround yourself with positivity. Positive people. Happy people. People who do what they say. Turn up the music. F*** the neighbours. Turn stuff off. Limit your exposure to just the bare essentials. And be kind to yourself. You’re going to need it and nobody, nobody will be walking in your shoes. They can’t. Only you can deal with this and a positive mental attitude will be worth its weight in chemo!
I’m going to end with a beautiful story. It’s totally unrelated to cancer, but to all my ‘Garfunkel’s’ aka Sherpas, that guided me through the darkness (you KNOW who you are … and God bless Mandy, Baggy and Patrick), I say thank you.
Life is good. Let’s crack on with it x
“Hello darkness, my old friend…” Everybody knows the iconic Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel song, but do you know the amazing story behind the first line of The Sounds of Silence?
It began when Arthur “Art” Garfunkel, a Jewish kid from Queens, enrolled in Columbia University. During freshman orientation, Art met a student from Buffalo named Sandy Greenberg, and they immediately bonded over their shared passion for literature and music.
Art and Sandy became roommates and best friends. With the idealism of youth, they promised to be there for each other no matter what.
Soon after starting college, Sandy was struck by tragedy. His vision became blurry and although doctors diagnosed it as temporary conjunctivitis, the problem grew worse.
Finally, after seeing a specialist, Sandy received the devastating news that severe glaucoma was destroying his optic nerves. The young man with such a bright future would soon be completely blind.
Sandy was devastated and fell into a deep depression. He gave up his dream of becoming a lawyer and moved back to Buffalo, where he worried about being a burden to his financially-struggling family.
Consumed with shame and fear, Sandy cut off contact with his old friends, refusing to answer letters or return phone calls.
Then suddenly, to Sandy’s shock, his buddy Art showed up at the front door. He was not going to allow his best friend to give up on life, so he bought a ticket and flew up to Buffalo unannounced.
Art convinced Sandy to give college another go, and promised that he would be right by his side to make sure he didn’t fall – literally or figuratively.
Art kept his promise, faithfully escorting Sandy around campus and effectively serving as his eyes. It was important to Art that even though Sandy had been plunged into a world of darkness, he should never feel alone.
Art actually started calling himself ‘Darkness’ to demonstrate his empathy with his friend. He’d say things like: “Darkness is going to read to you now.” Art organised his life around helping Sandy.
One day, Art was guiding Sandy through crowded Grand Central Station when he suddenly said he had to go and left his friend alone and petrified. Sandy stumbled, bumped into people and fell, cutting a gash in his shin.
After a couple of hellish hours, Sandy finally got on the right subway train. After exiting the station at 116th street, Sandy bumped into someone who quickly apologised – and Sandy immediately recognised Art’s voice!
Turned out his trusty friend had followed him the whole way home, making sure he was safe and giving him the priceless gift of independence.
Sandy later said: “That moment was the spark that caused me to live a completely different life, without fear, without doubt. For that I am tremendously grateful to my friend.”
Sandy graduated from Columbia and then earned graduate degrees at Harvard and Oxford. He married his high school sweetheart and became an extremely successful entrepreneur and philanthropist.
While at Oxford, Sandy got a call from Art. This time Art was the one who needed help. He’d formed a folk rock duo with his high school pal Paul Simon, and they desperately needed $400 to record their first album.
Sandy and his wife Sue had literally $404 in their bank account but without hesitation Sandy gave his old friend what he needed.
Art and Paul’s first album was not a success but one of the songs, The Sounds of Silence, became a No1 hit a year later. The opening line echoed the way Sandy always greeted Art. Simon & Garfunkel went on to become one of the most beloved musical acts in history.
The two Columbia graduates, each of whom has added so much to the world in his own way, are still best friends.
Art Garfunkel said that when he became friends with Sandy “my real life emerged. I became a better guy in my own eyes, and began to see who I was – somebody who gives to a friend.” Sandy describes himself as “the luckiest man in the world.”
Adapted from Sandy Greenberg’s memoir: “Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man’s Blindness into an Extraordinary Vision for Life.”
Link to blog: www.nadio.co.uk