My worst fear – cancer returns
I would like to say that I’ve spent the last few months in a stress-free remission, climbing mountains for charity, but anyone who has been through this will know I am lying. Just because you are in a remission doesn’t mean you are not stressed, exhausted and plain old sick.
I list the stages I went through during my five months of remission.
Reality sucks – first stage
I wondered why I didn’t feel elated. I should have been over the moon, plotting my next trip to the five star resorts, spend it now! Instead I was doing what I had been doing over the last year or more, that is I was comatose, nauseous, vomiting, bowel problems, the usual. The treatments were finished but the side effects lingered on. I kept telling my body the treatments were over but it wouldn’t listen. I was still seeing my oncologist, Dr Spittle, who kept encouraging me to get out of bed and start moving around before I forgot how to walk.
Escape – second stage
So doing my best to feel more positive, I signed up for a Pilates weekend at an expensive health resort. I curmudgeoned the weekend away, and found it difficult to get to Pilates, much less do exercises. I had a list of what I couldn’t do which included all the activities on offer, like hiking and aerobics, and I hated the food, and I growled at the other guests. My optimistic phase had become my over-optimistic phase and when I got home I went back to bed to rest up from my weekend.
Smart ass – third stage
I spend hours looking for the next cure and futilely try to keep one step ahead of my oncologist. This stage began thirteen years ago when my first cancer sprouted and will continue until my last breath, with diminishing returns and diminishing enthusiasm. I won’t go into the details of my findings but let’s just say the new cancer doesn’t conform to anything I came up with in my research, so trips to Japan and the leading medical centers of the world are cancelled. I should have gone when I had the chance, now I couldn’t do the traveling. I need to go to the website ‘cancer to order’ and ask them to send cancer that allows for extensive travel.
Getting it before it gets you – fourth stage
After five months I thought it was time to have fun. My friend in Miami had air miles and a week off. This happened at the same time as the white truffle festival in Alba. It would be great to celebrate a weekend of gourmet food after months of nausea. It was a wonderful week for me, but I was tired and not my usual adventurous self. I had a feeling cancer was looming.
The final charge – fifth stage
I decided to make a huge effort to be a superwoman. I kept up acupuncture, went to Pilates four times a week, and signed up at a place called Bowskill Clinic for physical therapy and serious training. Everything was going well for about a month, which is a long time in stage 4 cancer remission.
Maybe I was stretching my luck, signing up for 20 sessions at Pilates. Just as I was about to ask for heavier weights so I could have a macho moment, my right arm folded. It couldn’t lift an ounce. My teacher looked at me with pity. I looked at my arm in amazement. What happened?
By the time I got home I was in severe pain. I figured I had broken my arm; but how?
This was the first time I had a physical problem that I didn’t immediately think was to do with cancer. I took every medication I could find in my apartment and nothing worked, not even the codeine pills I had left over from one of my cancer operations. Not even my Adval smuggled from USA.
Sixth stage – no, seventh – Cancer returns
How did I know cancer was back? Even after months of remission and seeing my oncologist every week. Dr Spittle has the manner of a psychoanalyst. She always greets me brightly, dressed as if she was greeting a great dignity rather than a woebegone patient; ‘Dr Walker’ she says, beckoning me into her consulting room. She felt the lump on my throat and immediately concluded that I needed a biopsy and of course her instinct was right. The tests showed cancer.
I’m writing this waiting to go into see Dr Spittle and start my treatment. I’ve had my Pet/CT scan and MRI. Cancer is back with a vengeance. Good news it hasn’t gone to my vital organs; bad news the cancer can now be seen: lumps on my neck, bumps on my chest and a lifeless right arm. Cancer ought to at least stay out of sight.
I can think of many things to write about and will try to keep on to ‘restore sanity’. This feels like a sequel; ’The Revenge of the Cell”. There will be more to come.