Paige Dougall: Poignant legacy is stunning song about living with cancer - one everyone should hear
We’ve come a long way since the days when the word cancer was mentioned only in a whisper.
A generation which nodded as it skirted around the condition, as if frightened by it, has been replaced by one which talks openly, honestly - and in a very different way.
Slowly, the media is moving away from clapped out cliches like ‘the Big C’ and headlines highlighting people’s “battles” with cancer.
Nowhere is that change of attitude and approach more evident than in Paige Dougall’s stunning song about living with cancer.
It’s unbelievably moving and haunting – even more so after the news of her death this week – and sung with an honesty that we need to see brought to every discussion about cancer, whether that is online or face to face.
Paige was just 17, and had stage four Ewing’s sarcoma.
To be able to articulate so powerfully her hopes and fears, and the impact the condition had on her daily life, and her body, is quite remarkable.
I lug into music every day while working from home. This song utterly stopped me in my tracks.
Recorded with X-Factor star Ella Henderson, the simplicity of the piano arrangement allows every single word to stand out.
Music has the power to move in so many ways - lyrics that connect with our own lives, to choruses and refrains which give us the strength to carry on.
Paige’s remarkable lyrics do that - and so much more - on Going Through Hell.
She sings with a frankness about the impact on her body, and asks ‘did I deserve this’ but without a shred of self-pity.
I defy anyone to listen to the line “I’m slowly dying, I’m’ losing my hair?” without welling up, but this is no wallow in the hellishness that cancer can bring.
There is an astonishing maturity in her lyrics as she articulates the pain and the hurdles cancer places in your way, but there is also a refrain which lingers long after the final notes.
“I’m going to ring that bell.”
Anyone who has visited a ward treating people with cancer will know those who recover ring the bell before leaving - a sound of hope for those who watch them head down the corridor one last time.
Recording a song of such poignancy underlines the bundles of talent she had - from never recording anything in a studio to sitting on a couch with a pop star chatting to television reporters is a heck of a journey!
We don’t put folk in Fife on pedestals.
We should make an exception to remember this incredibly talented young woman.
> A version of this column was first published in October 2021
Down Paige’s song here: