It’s a question I’ve been asking myself all afternoon, as my wife and I shaped the sponge and covered it in jam; as we coloured the marzipan pink and shaped it into thin sausages; as we gently stuck the coils of marzipan together; as we created a not strictly anatomically correct, but not unrecognisable cake in the shape of a brain.
Some I’m sure will think it inappropriate, others might even be offended.
But I suspect many more will immediately get what, for me, making my brain cake was all about.
I did it because in December I made an off-the-cuff joke on these pages about making a brain cake to celebrate the anniversary of my diagnosis.
I hope the joke was funny, but it was also sad. It made me feel so melancholy that the only way to counteract it was to promise myself, there and then, that I’d actually go ahead and do it.
I did it because I wanted to celebrate a year since diagnosis. Not to celebrate a year of survival, but to celebrate a year of life.
I did it because I’ve spent another amazing year with my wife and children, enjoying the weather, cycling long miles, going on holidays, seeing great friends, enjoying the sunshine, enjoying my life, despite everything else.
Because I wanted to recognise how wonderful people have been: to say thanks for your messages and gestures, your thoughts and your actions. And making cakes is what people do when they want to say thank you, isn’t it?
I did it because I have a sense of humour.
Because I refuse to conform to what people with cancer are supposed to do. Because I want to do things that people with cancer are not supposed to do.
Because cake is tasty. And marzipan is even tastier.
Because this morning – nine days after having brain surgery – I cycled 50 miles in a group, and in less than three hours. At some times this year, I’ve thought I’d never cycle with others or at speed again.
Because this morning I burned enough calories to eat a huge piece of cake.
Because I’m more than just a bloke with a brain tumour. My diagnosis is only part of my life, it is far from the sum total of it.
Because I wanted to celebrate everyone who has, or has had, a brain tumour; in fact any cancer, whether they are living or have lost their life. I wanted to show solidarity with them, their families, their friends, their supporters.
Because I wanted to recognise and celebrate the work of the charities, the support groups, the nurses, those who clean the floors in the hospital wards, the consultants, the doctors.
I did it because it was fun to do, and in a year that’s had its ups and downs, fun is good for us. Fun is brilliant.
Because I’m in control. Because I get to decide. And I decided to make a brain cake.
Because I’ve tried to learn and understand as much as I can about my condition, and I’ve used the information to take the decisions I feel ready for. I’ve not allowed myself to be pushed where I don’t want to go. That’s hard, and it ought to be celebrated.
Because maybe, just maybe, I won’t be around to make a cake again this time next year.
Because it seemed fitting, straight after having brain surgery, to have a go with the knife myself.
Because I wanted to remind myself, and others, not to take ourselves too seriously: at least some of the time.
Because. Well, just because I needed to.
For those who don’t live close, next time you’re tucking into a muffin or a sponge, a cup cake or a cherry tart, maybe spare a thought for me and my brain cake. Maybe even send me a picture.
For those who do live close, please come around and get your slice.
Don’t make me and the kids eat the whole thing ourselves.