Feeling tired. White blood count very low. Exhausted by isolation, tired of being tired. I’m not alone in fighting lung cancer.

On checking NHS statistics I learn that 5,000 people in Scotland were diagnosed with it in the past year.

We’ll all have our stories to tell … of family support or of loneliness and of our fight to keep on fighting.

Some of us will win extra months or years at the end of our gruelling journey and others will not, but thankfully a growing number become cancer survivors.

There’s growing hope in all areas of cancer and in the west of Scotland there’s more hope than in many other parts of the UK simply because of the expertise of our oncologists.

So, why has this part of the world become such a beacon of light in the battle against cancer? It’s because there’s no-one quite as good as us at providing such a steady and consistently large number of patients to work on.

That’s why some of the best oncologists are attracted to the NHS West of Scotland Cancer Centre where they can work collaboratively with the world-class Beatson Institute based within the University of Glasgow.

During my 18 years as NHS director of communications in Glasgow I’ve heard people who deserve to be listened to say “if you’re going to get cancer then this is the place to be”.

And we – the people who live here – have worked hard to make that black truth true.

It is down to our love affair with tobacco, booze and a rubbish diet.

When I was a teenager in the late 1970s, more than two million adult Scots smoked.

At some point in the decades ahead that figure should decline because today the number of smokers has halved to around one million. However, cancer rates continue to rise steadily for lung and many other cancers as part of our tobacco legacy.

I think back to 1982 when I reported for work at the Evening Times newsroom in Albion Street. I sat at a long wooden bench littered with manual typewriters surrounded by overflowing glass ashtrays, tin ashtrays and cans of coke with fag ends fizzed out inside them.

Each ashtray was a miniature volcano – a mountain of cork-coloured tips and long warped trails of grey ash where a half-smoked cigarette had been forgotten and a new one lit in its place and dangled from the lip of a furiously typing reporter.

The reporter on my left smoked, the reporter on my right smoked, and the ones opposite and behind me too.

The same went for the booze. Half-bottles nestled in most top drawers. We enjoyed a drink at work and we enjoyed a drink in the Press Bar before, during and after lunch. Food consisted of a pie or a cheese toasty.

Council workers, lawyers, tradesmen, policemen, ambulance workers ... we were all at it. It was our way and one that would eventually lead to Glasgow earning the reputation as the cancer capital of Europe.

So, while I am struggling a little at home with my treatment and its side-effects, I do reflect on the years of unhealthy habits that undoubtedly had a part to play in my current health status.

I haven’t smoked for a very long time – today I’m almost 20 years smoke-free and have a healthy diet and lifestyle … albeit consuming a unit or five more than the doc would recommend. But even that little luxury is curtailed now I’m in chemotherapy.

It’s the mental health that is under a bit of pressure these days and my wife is experiencing that too.

Since I’ve known Laura she’s always said that little ditty on seeing a magpie, “One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl ...” and when she sees only one magpie she avoids the “sorrow” line by saying a cheerful: “Hello Mr Magpie, say hello to Mrs Magpie.” All good and well.

But these last few weeks she’s declared war on the handsome relative of the crow family. She blames a magpie for raiding the nest of a pair of blackbirds in the elderberry bush in our garden and now runs into the back garden like a maniacal android windmill on speed to chase it away. She’s even taken to issuing verbal warnings to it …“you’re not welcome here, Mr Magpie!”

And just the other day she almost collapsed laughing as she confessed that she’d eaten a KitKat just to see if she was still wheat intolerant. My wife has had to stick rigidly to a gluten-free diet for almost nine years now ... but thought she’d just see if all-of-a-sudden that intolerance had just gone away. We both laughed like drains as she explained her DIY clinical trial.

Yesterday we started laughing again when I asked her if she’d let me share this tale with you. She said yes.

And, by the way, she’s still wheat intolerant. Consequences.