Huddersfield-born Nadio Granata is a chef turned marketing, PR and publishing guru who now lives on a house boat on the Thames. Earlier this year he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Every week he’s charting his cancer journey with a blog. WARNING: It’s gritty and the language could be industrial…

Surrounding yourself with loved ones when embarking on one’s ‘cancer journey’, is, without doubt, the single most therapeutic treatment in the world.

To be able to see the tiny face of giggling Zadie, my first grandchild, on Zoom, practically on demand, is sheer joy.

To have my iPad screen filled with the faces of my distant (logistically, not lovingly) family, eyeball to eyeball, tear to tear, is both frequent, indescribably more than I deserve and often deeply emotional. But I wouldn’t want it any other way.

And so to be a Northerner and live in a marina in Chiswick, west London, slightly ‘off grid’ amongst other like-minded souls, is actually turning into a beautiful blessing.

Not least are my neighbours – kind and caring, they are tough, funny and pragmatic. When I recently rang one at 3am whilst shivering like a demented dog and seeking her help, she promptly told me to “Drink water, go back to sleep and you’ll be ok. I’ll check on you when the sun comes up.”

Not one to be argued with (she has accomplished many things, not least sailing her newly purchased, first ever boat, a 130-year-old barge across to west London from Holland).

I went back to sleep, stopped shivering and realised it was a reaction to my second Covid jab and not the cancer. Probably significantly affected by the red wine and shots I’d downed at the party we’d all been at earlier. I lived to fight another day. Phew!

And so on my second day of treatment I was delighted to host one of my best and longest standing friends from school, Bren Robinson. Anybody who is reading this and who knows Brendan, will already be right in their thinking. We have had a blast!

One of the funniest, cleverest, warmest and cuddliest people I’ve ever met in my life, and I’ve met a few!

River Thames alongside Chiswick Quay Marina with Kew Gardens just beyond the bend

And so, in between my various hospital visits, client calls and presentations, the sun has come out and we have managed to walk several miles of beautiful Thames towpath, visited a few of the nearby picture postcard riverside pubs and last night we BBQ’d on the boat with my old neighbour and German crime screenwriter, Captain Umlout (you guessed it, not his real name!)

Brendan and Otto were immediately in cahoots, on great form, taking the piss out of me from every which angle. And I loved it! Probably deserved it too if I’m honest.

However, like all things, even the best of reunion parties have to come to an end and as the sun started to fall into the red carpet it casts across the beautiful Thames, the last sips of red wine began to hurt the throat as it made its way down to the bubbling uprising meeting it on its way up.

The incorrigible rebels had become an army and the red wine only temporarily subdued their evasion long enough for me to reach for a double dose of the anti-sickness miracle cure.

As we watched the sun go down, I KNEW this was going to be one of my last enjoyable tipples for weeks, possibly months, hopefully not years and definitely not ever as my sense of taste and smell is annihilated by the forthcoming treatment. I could do with losing some weight anyway! (Cue the Monty Python, “Always look on the bright side of life … dedum, dedum dedum dedum.”

‘Always looking on the bright side’

Quietly and without ceremony, we said goodbye to the dapper Captain Umlout, chuckling at one more last quip, and duly descended into the hull of my boat to end the evening with a modest cup of Yorkshire tea (courtesy of Mel), chocolate biscuit and our somewhat embarrassing bedtime dose of tablets, which, I’m rather concerned to say, Brendan trumps me by a mile!

But. And here’s the nub of the story… that cuppa hurt. The throat is already tender and each small sip burns as it heads past the throat and into the drowsing battlefield below.

Taking another sip of the now tepid tea, I test the theory again. And again. One more time. Nope. They were right, I was wrong, this treatment is going to affect me just as much as the next person.

It’s suddenly got real.

By the time we had one more bromanced cuddle and a bedtime pledge to get up early to squeeze a short visit to Richmond Park and catch sight of the deer in the early morning, mist, the battlefield was at full cry and I went to bed somewhat humbled and a little scared by the prospect of what is coming next.