One of my favourite things about the United Kingdom is the emotional repression. I knew that if I waited to see friends until I could smack makeup over the new scar, I could realistically expect that everyone would ignore the blazing reality of a third cancer diagnosis.

This hypothesis proved to be imperfect; hundreds of acquaintances and colleagues play along, but I have some good friends who actually care. They are not inclined to accept a wave of the hand and airy dismissals – they want to know the truth, even if it is painful.

I share this perspective, but I have nothing to contribute. If the best specialists in the world are baffled, how can I offer any assurances? I don’t know why this happened, and I don’t know what it means. The only available narrative involves the surgery, and that is a story that the average audience will not enjoy.

It is lucky that my friends are neither average nor an audience. The other night I went out with close friends for the first time since the surgery, determined to ignore the looks that would flicker across my forehead.

And, of course, the evening was beyond fine. Iain remains resolutely amused by my antics, no matter how extreme. Gita is brilliance personified. My literary agent listened intently, then pointed out that I have merely acquired another story to publish. And that she would really appreciate it if I give her a new book to sell.

The question is: what would I write about? I’m irritated by all of my standard topics. Poverty, violence, cancer, repeat, ad infinitum: ugh. Boring!

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