Monday, 23 November 2009

A parting gesture.

One of the loveliest things about writing this blog is the number of friends I’ve made as a result of it. Not friends in the traditional sense – rather, people I’ve never met but often have more regular contact with than folk I’ve known for years. One of them is Andy Greig, writer of the Grumpy Old Git blog (or @mac_kix_windoze to those of you on Twitter).

A fellow Bullshitter (his term, not mine!), Andy was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his right femur in February 2008, aged 41 – which is at once tragically young and also unusually old for osteosarcoma; hence his ‘Grumpy Old Git’ handle.

Andy and I have been in touch for a year or so, sending each other updates on our treatment, commenting on each other’s blog posts, joining up expletives to make super-swearwords and keeping up the spirit of sticking one to The Bullshit with as much humour as we could manage. 

When Stephen Fry dubbed me a ‘cancer bitch’, Andy looked into getting it printed on a T-shirt. When my old laptop imploded into a sea of indecipherable code, Andy coached me through the steps to retrieve my data. And when my pubes grew back unusually straight, Andy was the first to tell me that it was both normal and temporary (but that, y’know, P might prefer them gone altogether).

When it came to scrapping through cancer, I was the Anakin to Andy’s Yoda, horribly experienced as he was with The Bullshit thanks to the discovery of secondary tumours in his lungs. Real persistent little fuckers, too. The kind that saw him repeatedly in hospital for more treatment than he ever could have bargained for, but which he endured with an enviable calm, a defiant Blitzkreig spirit and a wry sense of humour. Until this weekend.

With apocalyptic rain pouring from angry skies – as if to forewarn the world of such a miserable, miserable day – Andy died on Saturday, at home with the adored wife, son and three daughters he so often spoke about.

‘The thing that I love and hate about cancer,’ Andy once said to me, ‘is that it's changed me. I hate it because it's changed me physically and I'll never be the same again, even if I'm cured. I hate it because it messes with my head. I hate it because it makes me a victim. But I love the way it has changed me for the better too. It's changed my outlook, it's changed my attitude to people and it's made me appreciate life more than I ever thought I could.’

I never met Andy. But that’s not to say that he didn’t make an instant impression on me, or that I wasn’t incredibly fond of him. As I told him a number of times, he was, quite simply, ace. And if I’m saying those things on the strength of only having known Andy through the glorious world of the internet, then I do hope that his family and friends will be able to take some comfort in having been lucky enough to know – in person – such a demonstrably top bloke.

Here’s to you, Andy Greig.

Andy was fundraising for the Bone Cancer Research Trust. 
If you can, please donate by clicking here


Helen said...

And now I'm crying at my desk. It sounds like he was an incredible bloke.

I hate cancer.

Hermen Lesscher said...


Carol Jarvis said...

He really was an incredible bloke, and what a nice blog about him...thank you once again for your amazing way with words!

I first met Andy when I was about 9 or 10. His dad gave me my first ever trombone lesson, and Andy being a trombonist, was the person I looked up to. It was Andy who persuaded me to follow music as a career instead of drama and I'm glad I thanked him for that just a few months ago.

We lost touch for a few years, but when I was diagnosed with Hodgkins he got in touch and was a wonderful friend who was there for me and an amazing support. It was a real blow when he was diagnosed with cancer too, I really didn't expect it, but I was so sure he would pull through.

Now, being a professional trombonist, I recently recorded a solo CD at Pinewood Studios to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support, which is in the final stages at the moment. I have been planning to dedicate a track to him for the past two years (through the CD planning) to say thanks for inspiring me in my career. I didn't get to tell him this, or to play him the CD, just that I had a surprise for him, which I'm gutted about as he was taken much sooner than I expected. I hope he'll be able to hear it from where he is now and I will miss our emails and chats about 'The Bullshit' too!

He and his family are in my thoughts and he will always continue to be my hero xxx

billy said...

I hate cancer too.

gemmak said...

I love this post Lisa.....despite the fact you made me cry! Andy was an amazing man and someone who will always inspire me. We became good friends and he was without doubt 'one of the good guys', no, much more than that, one of the very best. I know he will be terribly missed but those of us lucky enough to have 'known' him are the richer for that experience.