Posted on May 20, 2015
Thought I better blog tonight as I know you are all waiting for news of scan results.
In short, they were bloody brilliant, and far exceeded expectations. All my liver mets have shrunk 25%, which is absolutely fantastic considering that I have only had three cycles, and one of them didn’t include a particular drug, and all three of them have only been on a 50% dose of the most powerhouse of all the chemo drugs (and the most toxic). My oncologist said two sentences that were music to my ears today: “you are obviously still very sensitive to first line chemo”, and “we are looking at getting a long period of control”. I don’t know how long long is, but that will do me, thanks. I now know, that while nothing in this shitty cancer life is guaranteed, I am a possible contender for living with this cancer for some years. The oncologist also said “we’ve still got quite a few options up our sleeves for later”. Did I ever tell you I bloody love that man?
I said recently in a post that I would never know what it was like to feel joy again. I mean, how can you, when you have a death sentence hanging over your head? But I tell you, the mood in that oncologists office today, among my sister, my friend Kez, and my (sobbing) husband was almost festive. My oncologist was beaming, we were all having a laugh about me being an author and whether I would have time to attend my 3 weekly appointments with him anymore, and we all felt pure relief. I walked out of that office, I hugged my people, and I felt it. Yes, it was joy. I’ve missed you my friend.
What lies ahead? Three blissful months until I have to think about this crap again. Three weekly hook ups to the poison pump, and quiet confidence that the mets will continue to shrink. In three months if I am still responding I will be shifted onto maintenance chemo, and that is where we seek to start on this long period of control.
This news today means so many things for my life. I looked at my children tonight and I wasn’t terrified that we’d already had our last Christmas. I am confident that I will walk my eldest child into her first day of high school, and then I will set another goal when her sister follows her a year later. I have enjoyed the last few months, as I refuse to waste too much time worrying about what I can’t change, but if I was to be honest, there have been moments of pure terror. There has been no way in the last few months to know whether I would respond to chemo like I did before – sometimes the cancer gets too big for the chemo, and it just can’t overcome it. On the way back from our weekend away, I started to have pain over my liver area (despite taking a lot of photos of the grog haul on the weekend, I didn’t actually drink very much, I know it’s not in my best interests), and over the next couple of days it got really quite severe, into my back, and up into my shoulder. I could only think that my liver was worsening and not responding, and going into these scan results I have had to take the blue drops of calm from palliative care a couple of times to help me cope with the fear. I really and truly thought a couple of nights ago that my demise could actually be quite close, and I was really very very scared. This is going to be part of my life forever now, so I just have to work it in. So, the results of today also mean that when I get pain, I don’t have to be scared. Pain in itself I can cope with, but the psychological terror that goes with it, when you don’t know if treatment is working is diabolical. Now I will say ah, it’s just pain, pop a pill, and chill. Kinda…something like that!
There are things that are happening in my life at the moment that are truly extraordinary. And I mean beyond my wildest dreams, gobsmacking. There will be a book, as I already told you, but there are actually other things which I will be able to talk more about shortly too. The other day I was really struggling with the positive direction my life was heading in juxtaposing with the possibility of a really quite imminent death. Now I can really enjoy what the next few months will bring (and they will bring amazing things – can’t wait to tell you more), comfortable in the knowledge that I am not going anywhere any time soon.
Cancer, as much as I hate it, has given my courage. And I am not talking about the courage to die, I am talking about the courage to live. The opportunities that have come my way recently are not things I would have the confidence or self-belief to chase after even two short years ago. Do something courageous tomorrow, in honour of my news. Chase a little dream. I love the thought of that, I just love its guts.
My sister and I tonight, celebrating my fabulous news. It’s so so hard on other family members, I am so glad she came to support me, and hear first hand that things are on track.
On a devastatingly sad note, yesterday bowel and liver cancer took my beautiful friend Amelia, the second member of our close knit cancer support group that we have lost in the last few months. Amelia was in her very very early 30’s, and she was bright and beautiful, and had her whole life in front of her. Her heart was golden, and I know that she would have been so thrilled at my news today. The unfairness of this, the cruelty, it’s truly breath sucking. Much love beautiful girl, you were a shining light in our group, and we all adored you.