Luck of the drawWith those wonderful intentions of making someone else’s day, Max and his friend Harrison took off into town – on borrowed bikes – to buy a few things to make Charlie’s birthday special. Descending a hill, then rounding a corner at speed Max had no choice but to enter a narrow footbridge or go into the rocky, swollen river. The bike had no brakes. Max had no helmet. And he was left trying to slow the thing with his feet. The front wheel slipped sideways and he and the bike bounced along the railings of the bridge. His head and shoulder took the worst of it and he was unconscious for perhaps a couple of minutes, amnesic for a couple of hours and definitely sore for a couple of weeks to come. Thankfully he got off lightly, as some people do. The same accumulation of events can lead to more tragic consequences as we know and ‘the luck of the draw’ is not predictable.

As Simon and I spent Saturday night in Accident & Emergency with Max, I was reminded of the analogy that getting cancer is a bit like a plane crash – or even a bike crash – There have to be quite a few things go wrong simultaneously to end up in such a serious situation. There’s a balance to strike with reducing our risks – so when the things beyond our control happen – we might be lucky enough to have the odds still weighing in our favour.

I’m grateful to Fiona for her honest reflections last week on how life has been in the months following her cancer diagnosis. There was an amazing reach around the world with Facebook-sharing everywhere from Australia to Tibet. Thank you for the heartfelt comments from dear friends. When Fiona and I talk, its clear we agree there were a number of things stacking the odds against us before our diagnoses. We didn’t necessarily see them all at the time – or thought we might ‘get away with it’.

Her blog struck a few raw chords in this house with the reminder to make every day count and not leave health to chance. Its obviously easier to do this before the ‘crash’ than after and we both hope you might learn from us – so your own health is not all down to luck.

I don’t want Max to stop riding a bike – I certainly want him to carry on making other people’s day even if that involves a few risks – for what is life, but to be lived? But I know – looking at it from here – that you would rather take a little more care now, than be left picking up the broken pieces.

If the bike Max was riding had had breaks – he probably wouldn’t have crashed.

If the path he was on was not steep and narrow – he probably wouldn’t have crashed.

If he’d been wearing a helmet – even with the crash – he wouldn’t have bashed his head so hard.

It only needed one of these things to be different so that he wasn’t leaving everything to chance.


In the interests of improving immune function (laughter is one of the best medicines) the picture at the bottom is Max on laughing gas while the nurse rubbed gravel out of his ear and scalp. At 15 – this made the whole experience worthwhile !


I have a guest blog this week on which you will find by clicking on this link


Luck of the draw gas