So. Has all of this been worth the effort, the discomfort, and the inevitable attack squad of side effects?
This week I’d find out – so on Monday I once again rolled up for the necessary scan at the mobile CT van. (After a few moments’ major confusion about where they’d hidden it…)
And this time, at least, we weren’t dealing with sub-zero temperatures! (So no more ice cubes down my cleavage…)
The young man supervising my scan didn’t, I think, quite believe my warning that finding a place to put a canula into me was – to coin a wonderful phrase from my old friend John Clarkson – a bit like being the Flying Dutchman’s navigator. He soon realised what I meant when two attempts to get one in met with abject failure. His colleague – slightly less merciful but, as a result, slightly more effective – got one in on her first attempt.
Which left me ready for a dye infusion. And the scan that would finally show how the battle was going.
It was Wednesday morning when I saw my oncologist, and I had a long wait. I didn’t mind. I knew it was because she was treating each person she saw as an individual, and giving them advice, support and comfort accordingly.
But as soon as Rosemary and I walked into her room – and I saw her face – I already had a feeling about what was coming. And how difficult and uncomfortable it was for her, after all our efforts.
We chatted for a while about other things. What we’d been doing to lay down memories. My plans for the holiday in Denmark. Taking a rest from treatment for a few weeks.
Until I felt I needed to break the ice. So I asked the necessary question – and got the worst possible answer.
‘I’m sorry. the treatment just hasn’t been effective. All the tumours have got bigger.’
And there it was. The worst case scenario. Yes, I’d been prepared for it – as a possibility – but now it was real.
How did I feel?
Frankly, a little numb. More concerned for the atrocious impact on poor Rosemary, I think. As we began to talk about what happens next I could see her struggling to deal with it, and stood up to take her in my arms and hold her – just for a moment. I’d have liked to make it longer.
So. What does happen next?
I’m going to be given a tablet-based chemo treatment, but one not intended to fight the tumours – just to stabilise my system as I deal with inevitable consequences of their advance. The list of likely side-effects is tediously familiar, but I’ll take them in my stride as I always have before. I take the tablets on a monthly cycle – 5 (working) days in the first two weeks, then a two-week gap before the next cycle.
They won’t save me, but they will probably help me. And I’ll take all the help I can get.
Later in the day, I posted the news on Facebook. And by the end of the day had more than 80 messages of support there. It was heartening, and more than a little overwhelming. I still find it hard to believe I’ve made that much of an impression on that many lives.
But I’m hugely grateful. It makes the prospect of what comes next just a little more bearable. So if you were one of the 80+ (or even if you weren’t, but are reading this post), thank you. You make a difference for me.