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   As you may have noticed, mental illness is NOT a side effect, a point in my favor.
   There is so much technical and medical knowledge involved in treating cancer, the average person will never understand it. Even radiation oncologists don’t know all the side effects to brain radiation, which is often a follow up procedure to chemo.
   Chemotherapy tried to kill me before the cancer could, landing me in intensive care at the hospital the first week of treatment. Doctors, nurses, ambulance rides, hospitals, even blood transfusions were added to my treatment.
   Months of being poked, prodded, stuck with needles, more needles embedded in my arm, the backs of my hands, for hours on end, day after day.
   Set apart, too sick to eat, sometimes too sick to care.
   About this time I added my own peculiar side effect.
   Tim showed up.
   I have no clue exactly when he showed up, he just did.
   Yes, I said he.
   I hear his voice inside my head. It’s not my voice, not even close. His is deeper, with a Southern drawl, and a warm feel, like caramel on chocolate.
   Let’s say your friend calls you on the phone. Perfectly normal, happens a million times a day, right? You hear them clearly, in your ear, inside your head. No one questions it, or considers it unusual. It’s a simple phone call.
   I hear Tim’s voice the same way. In my head. I just do it without benefit of a phone. Blue flash, ozone, and Tim is there. Due to those special effects, I tend to think he was born of radiation treatments but I have nothing to back up that belief.
   It is strictly one way, Tim to me. I can’t call him. I’ve tried. I can’t predict when he will show up. He just does. Blue flash, ozone smell and he has announced his presence.
   I asked my doctors about it and that earned me referrals to the staff psychiatrist, whose main job was explaining your final days. She had no experience with voices as a side effect and suggested I move on to another branch of medicine.
   I declined and stopped asking.
   I like Tim.
   I enjoy his company, enjoy not being alone all the time. He became a part of my life so the heck with the psych crew, I kept him.
   We talk of many things, no cabbages but sometimes kings. We like the same movies, and mostly the same books, which we can discuss for hours. He doesn’t cost anything to keep – I don’t have to feed him or clean up after him. What more could you ask?