IT’S one of those bone-seeping misty days when every cell is infiltrated by cold grey misery. Even the cover protecting me on the stretcher has rivulets of damp trickling aimlessly.

And now as we do every day, we’ve paused for me to calm myself before the mask grips my steroid-swollen head and radiation is beamed into my brain. My clamped jaw feels as if it is breaking but at ten minutes it is mercifully short, or so I kid myself.

As I ‘calm’ before the swing doors, my hand emerges from the cover. It clutches an e-cig and I draw on it with the strength of a drowning woman uploading breath.

Around me in separate corners are the other fools – the vapers, the real smokers, the other e-ciggers. There are ambulance staff, technicians, even doctors.

But it is the cancer patients like me who deserve no quarter. Our bodies are already ravaged by the elixir we’re still pumping in – further proof if needed that smokers are the stupidest of God’s creatures.

Even when the facts became undeniable, we hardcore puffers swaggered on – cut price John Waynes….no cowards us, eh? There I am in every photo, my elegant brown More a mark of my insouciant sophistication as its deadly batch of chemicals unfurled through my once pristine cells.

Something has to kill us, I’d drawl in my youthful arrogance where death came for others not me. But there’s something, and there's something, and there is nothing neat and gentle about cancer – nothing kind, nothing soothing towards the end.

My French doctors are aggressively tackling my tumours but the toll on my body is vicious – I feel what little strength left leeching out of me and merely rising in the morning is a breathless marathon.

I’m still having an endless dialogue with my guardian angel but his silences grow longer and I no longer feel the strength of his arms around me. He cannot desert me now for there is no human agent to enfold me in their arms.

Strange, all my life I’ve shrunk from hugs and friendly embraces, finding such intimacy intrusive and mildly disturbing.

Now what I would give for the strong arms of my son around me as we sit in a comfortable silence, all pain dimmed by love. But for now, that cannot be as a continent and a plague divide us – another ending I did not foresee. But then, who did?

Now I have to dress for the ambulance and another hour-long trip for the daily radiation. In all it’s almost three hours daily but hopefully should end this week. Then another two scans and the decision to continue or not with immunotherapy and its punishing side effects.

I am in their control for now but I am growing so weary I’m having to fight every step of the way to retain my hope. It’s getting tougher or I am getting weaker…or both.

At least the dank grey mist of morning has dissipated and my calming e-cig will be unaccompanied by icy rivulets down my stretcher.

And the other fools and I will share a wry grin at what has brought us together in this last chance saloon. Oh, we’ll acknowledge our stupidity but not out loud – just by a grimace and a deeper inhalation of breath.

But we’ll know what we mean. In truth we’ve always known but just ignored it. Well, it’s too late for us…but not for you.