In the December 2012 issue of 1 Across magazine, longtime crossword composer John Graham included a special instruction above one of his puzzles:
“I have 18dn of the 19; no 27, just 13 15; no 2 or 6 or 1dn 26 yet — plenty of 10, though I wouldn’t have chosen the timing.”
Solvers discovered that 18 down was CANCER and 19 across was OESOPHAGUS. The full message read:
“I have CANCER of the OESOPHAGUS; no CHEMOTHERAPY, just PALLIATIVE CARE; no NARCOTIC or STENT or MACMILLAN NURSE yet — plenty of MERRIMENT, though I wouldn’t have chosen the timing.”
The puzzle was reprinted as cryptic crossword No. 25,842 in the Guardian the following month.
“It seemed the natural thing to do somehow,” Graham said. “It just seemed right.” He died in November 2013, and the Guardian published a tribute crossword to remember him.