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The Gs are the most married people I know: they got together at university 30 years ago, did their masters' degrees together, and together have taught around the world, from Papua New Guinea to Leeds, raising their three highly intelligent children and clocking up a number of publications on the way. They are never apart except on Mrs G's choir night. They row passionately, and they love each other passionately too.

Mr G is a worrier, an anxiety addict, up until something genuinely life-threatening happens (he was totally calm in PGN, where their lives were really in danger). He went to the doc with a persistent upset stomach and was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. The doc thereby missed the following facts: he had a parasitic infection probably picked up on the Black Sea; the parasitic infection was causing anaemia; he was diabetic and - the biggy - he had cancer of the colon.

By the time this was actually diagnosed it had spread to his liver and was inoperable. It has, however, responded extremely well to chemical treatment, and has now shrunk to the size of a walnut. On a recent set of tests, where normal 'background' cancerousness rating is 2.5, and a smoker's is 5, G's was down to 8, having been in the thousands when first diagnosed. He has also become much calmer, although his first thought on waking up every day is that he is going to die of cancer.

And immediately Mrs G is taken seriously ill. They don't yet know with what - there are several candidates, and all of them bad. She lectures in the medical faculty of a world-class university, so knows a lot about how bad it might be.

Prayers please.

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