It’s been a long wait. At least, it’s felt like a long wait.

Everyone’s been telling me that this is the worst time after a cancer diagnosis. When you know you have it, but you don’t yet know how bad it is, how far it’s gone, or what the outcome is likely to be.

Well, I know now.

Today I saw my colorectal specialist, Mr Alberts, with Rosemary at my side. We’d agreed from the outset that she would be a part of the process. Because it would be unfair – and stupid – to leave her out. And because there was a distinct possibility that whatever he said, I’d only take in a part of it.

Over the past few days I’ve run through every possible scenario, as calmly as I could manage. Including one where I wouldn’t survive. I’ve been looking back at my life and counting my blessings – not the least of which is my 33 extraordinarily happy years with a woman who was able to show me what a good relationship is supposed to be like.

That’s now being put to the ultimate test. Let’s just say that the news was not good…

As gently as he could, Mr Alberts told me that the cancer has spread. To my liver, as we feared. But also to my lungs, which we hadn’t even begun to imagine was possible.

I looked up and said ‘OK. Give it me between the eyes. How long have I got?’

‘Without treatment,’ he said, ‘six months. If we do something about it, you could get two or three years.’

I nodded. ‘Then that’s what we’ll do,’ I said. ‘I have things I need to do. Business I need to finish. And I want as long as I can manage with Rosemary.’

We talked. For a long time. I told him that I’ve always been a fighter. That I’ve always faced up to life’s challenges and – wherever I could – found a way to learn from them or to help others learn from them. That I knew I’d have support – from our friends, our community, our church and our family.

That I was prepared to take on the battle.

And that was the moment when  ‘Battling Bowel Cancer’ was born.