In 1988 I wrote a book entitled Living With Cancer, with fellow journalist Jenny Bryan, and we thought it a good idea to include interviews with eminent survivors alongside the material on symptoms, treatments and prognosis.
The World Cup-winning footballer George Cohen, then 47, was the most willing of interviewees. He described living through three bouts of cancer, ten weeks in hospital, six weeks of radiotherapy, losing a large amount of money because he was unable to work, and being fitted with a colostomy bag, which he would live with for the rest of his life.
George admitted to periods of depression: “You look at yourself in the mirror and you think ‘God, look at that’, and remember back to what you were – a very fit person.” But he gained an enhanced sense of life. “I get up at six, off into the garden, and think how wonderful it is to be alive,” he said. “I get very annoyed with people who moan, or throw their lives away with drugs.”
With his wife, Daphne, he mixed with other survivors at the party to mark the book’s publication. He was a modest and gracious man.