Suddenly this woman appeared out of nowhere and was standing right behind me, slightly out of breath. She looked in her 60s, ashen blonde hair, blue eyes that danced playfully around in the sockets but held your stare with a flirtatious force, yet still quite distinguished with a touch of class.
“You must be fit!” I said.
“Not really,” she replied, indifferently. “I’m dying of cancer.”
Now, there’s a conversation killer, I thought, trying my best not to let the force of that revelation show the shock on my face. Instead my words were: “Gee, I’m sorry to hear…”
It all happened so quickly. And it’s not supposed to happen. Not in London. Everyone is quite certain that London was an unfriendly place, that strangers didn’t just strike up a conversation and talk to you, that you better be careful if it ever happened. Yet, there I was, talking to a total stranger who was about to tell me about her impending death from cancer and I don’t even know her name. And never will because I wasn’t intending to ask. Somehow it just seemed unimportant…
Then we started to talk about her ailment. I suggested had she tried sour sop juice and was going to expound with reasons why this was good for cancer. But, she politely cut me short. She told me the cancer has been already munching its way through her stomach.
“There is nothing that can help me now,” she said. “There’s nothing anyone can do to help me. It is just a matter of time before I die…”
Her nonchalant, matter-of-fact way of delivering such crippling news about her health was grimly honest. Even if they had a cure for stomach cancer it couldn’t help her. The picture of her stomach slowly disappearing was so graphic I was already manipulating it in my mind’s PhotoShop. Her way of dealing with the inevitability of it all, was inspirational.
But, I also wondered, how much fear she was carrying behind that brave facade…