This canceree hasn’t been feeling too cheerful during the last couple of days. The 40-ton truck didn’t hit me full on, but it did catch me with a glancing blow.
The good news is that the cancer hasn’t spread to my lymph nodes. This is amazingly positive, especially since my surgeon confessed that he was expecting to find some spread, given the large size of my tumour.
The not-so-good news is that they want to throw the book at it, in terms of further treatment. Again this is mainly due to the size of the tumour and the risk that there are some pesky cancer cells lurking in my body, as yet undetected.
I had been praying I wouldn’t need the dreaded chemotherapy. Prayers don’t always come true, as we know, so my chemo treatment will start in a couple of weeks’ time. And yes, as well as any rogue cancer, it will take my hair with it. There is no more potent sign of being a canceree than hair loss, so this is hard to accept and digest.
Following the chemo, I will have some radiotherapy and a frightening number of years taking the drug tamoxifen. But those treats still several months away.
I met with the oncologist yesterday. He was clear and direct and, in a very kind way, didn’t pull any punches. I like that in a doctor. He was also very optimistic about my prognosis. (The Optimistic Oncologist strikes me as a good title for a sister blog to The Cheerful Canceree!) It was reassuring to hear that I am in rude health with “the blood results of an Olympic athlete” – as long as he didn’t mean full of performance-enhancing drugs.
With each appointment, this experience gets more and more surreal. I sat in the doctor’s office yesterday, nodding silently, unable to speak, fighting back tears, as the words on the consent form blurred and danced in front of my eyes. It felt crazy to be ‘consenting’ to treatment that will make me feel so ill when I feel perfectly well. It goes against every instinct we have to keep ourselves safe from harm. I know it will help paint a rosier future for me, but it took all my inner strength not to run from that room and keep running.
This morning, as I was walking our dog Katy, it began to rain. I didn’t put up the hood of my jacket. Instead, I relished the feeling of the wind and the rain in my hair. I may not feel that again for some time to come.