I’m very happy to say that my cancer is having an identity crisis. It might sound strange but when you have this stupid disease you see it as more than just a collection of killer cells. It has its own unique character. You personify it.
When I was diagnosed last March, I thought of my tumour as a party crasher. After all it had turned up uninvited. He (and it always is a he, although I’m not sure why) was dirty, dishevelled and no friend of mine.
I worked hard to get rid of this party crasher who was still there the next day. I imagined him as someone festering on the sofa, feet up and swigging on the dregs of the night before. He wore flip flops but the soles of his feet are filthy. He only went after months of treatment.
Then, on Christmas Eve, I found out that he’d come back and he was much more menacing. There’s no chance of showing it the door for good.
This is a kamikaze disease. When you think about it, cancer makes no sense. By killing me, it will also destroying itself. So, I imagined my tumour to be a suicide bomber. Wearing a khaki coloured vest stuffed with explosives, he also carried a hand grenade for good measure.
When I thought about my cancer this time, he was primed and ready with his deadly cargo, getting bolder by the day. I saw it as something very dangerous. Yet the only weapon left was chemotherapy.
This was never going to get rid of the cancer. The best case scenario would have been to wipe out the tumour completely or shrink it. The worst case scenario would have been for the cancer to not respond to the drugs at all.
Now it’s over and I’ve had tests to establish how the treatment has worked. Disappointingly, it hasn’t gone quite as well as I’d hoped. The tumour is still there, it’s not gone away. However there is some good news. It hasn’t got any bigger and it has changed. For the moment it’s stable.
It means that my cancer has a new identity. The bomber has become a boxer. Not a very successful one at that. My boxer, with his red satin shorts and a sweat on, has been floored by the toxic drugs. He’s on the mat and the referee is counting out loud.
My boxer may be down but he’s not out. He will get up and fight again. Each time he does I’ll be ready. I have top consultants in my corner. They have some new treatment for me to try – something that really packs a punch.
But until the boxer wakes up I’m on my chemo holiday.