In January this year, my friend Annie began a sentence with: “When you write the cancer column…” You won’t mind if I do? I asked. Of course not, she said. Besides, I’ll be dead and I won’t care. We were trying to digest a shocking diagnosis. She had a malignant lung tumour and more tumour in her lymph nodes. It was inoperable. The doctor who broke the news to her ordered her to start chemotherapy immediately. Annie said, let’s get out of here. We took her home and poured stiff drinks. No chemo, she said. Over the next few days, bad …

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