MY PARTNER Jane announced this week: “When you die…I’m not going to cook anymore.”

It surprised me because always before if Jane started a sentence with the phrase “When you die…” she finished it with some comment about “What music would you like me to arrange for the funeral?” or “How will I know whom to invite to the event?”.

Her decision to give up cooking was disturbing precisely because it was unexpected and uncovered a layer of truth that I had overlooked.

Jane’s whole life has been taken over by my cancer. When I spent nights in A&E with all my emergencies, Jane was at my side the whole time. She came to all the meetings with consultants and sat with me during the lengthy and interminable treatment sessions. She packed my bags and drove me to hospital in the middle of the night.

On top of all this she cooked glorious food night after night to tempt me during those long months when I lost my appetite. These were five-star dinners to rival the best restaurants Oxford has to offer with fresh organic ingredients and usually two desserts.

When she wasn’t there to cook at lunchtime, she made certain I had freshly frozen homemade soups available. Mangoes, papaya, pineapple and strawberries were always on hand for a breakfast smoothie.

I was living the Life of Reilly and didn’t even know it.

All this obscured the fact that when one person in a family gets cancer, in a sense, the whole family gets it or, at least, the fallout from the explosion.

Before leukaemia came along I made most of the family meals for 15 years. The recent shift of responsibility on to Jane is very big. It’s taken over her life in many ways; so much so that her comment about giving up cooking is now not so surprising and looks more like a practical decision to get back in the driving seat of her life when I die.

The children, too, get it and quietly endure the pressures brought on by the disease. All those special takeaway meals from my favourite restaurants and smuggled into hospital for midnight feasts were definitely fun and delicious, but also probably a bit stressful.

The weekend trips from London to clean the house and make it germ-resistant for a vulnerable parent cut into their lives. They put their lives on hold and their heads down to do everything they could to support me. They spent hours holding hands and visiting in Spartan, uninviting hospital rooms in the middle of their days.

All of this is obvious. But when you are knocked sideways and down for the count with leukaemia and above all self-absorbed in trying to stay alive, it’s easy to overlook all the efforts other people are making to help you stay alive and perhaps more important to want to stay alive.

That simple statement Jane made this week – “When you die, I’m not going to cook anymore” – seemed innocent enough and it was, but it also uncovered a whole new layer of care and love that I didn’t even know I was receiving.