We are in the heart of academic London and looking at two towers. In the foreground the Gormenghast-like structure is one of the corner towers of the Octagon Building of University College London, while in the distance is the sleek modernity of University College Hospital. UCH has been the base for the treatment and management of my Waldenström's macroglobulinaemia for nearly five years now and where I spent 10 days in 2011 on the sixteenth floor recovering from high-dose chemotherapy and regaining an immune system.
I am standing with my back to the state-of-the-art Macmillan Cancer Centre in Huntley Street, where I now go for three-monthly blood tests and an appointment with my consultant. Out of shot to the left is the site of the Rosenheim Building, now in the ends stages of demolition and making way for another whizzy new facility. Gaunt and dated though it was, the Rosenheim retains a place in my affections, as it was where I used to go for outpatient appointments as well as the place where I received the chemo and all the briefing and preparation that preceded it. It was a big part of my life.
I have just emerged from my appointment in the Macmillan Centre with the news that my blood counts remain healthy and that my haemoglobin—the easiest of the parameters for me to grasp–is an entirely normal 135 grams per litre, a welcome recovery from the slightly sub-normal 128 that had cast a bit of a shadow over my last appointment in December (but which was in fact a normal blip occasioned by my first bout of real influenza in about 20 years).
So, it has been a good day. I will go back in June.