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.

16 thoughts on “Knockout?

  1. Helen you have been in my thoughts a lot recently. I hope that Mr C is not playing mind games with you, instead he has realised what a formidable woman you are, and that you have the better of him. HUGS xx

  2. Helen, you amaze me, I loved your description of your tumour, if I could throw a few punches at that boxer for you I would but you are doing one fine job fighting him yourself!!!

  3. Dear Helen remember the crowd are all behind you shouting and cheering for you to win
    They are in your corner and that always floors the opposition
    I hope my brother has his boxing gloves on too when his new chemo starts at the end of next week
    I’m yelling for you both to win by a knockout x

  4. Helen,
    I echo what everyone above has already said so well.
    You write so beautifully, so please keep doing that during the chemo hols, when you haven’t got something more fun to do ;)
    Hooray for the consultant/trainers and their brand new treatment!
    C xx

  5. punching for you! it only takes one strong uppercut on the blind side to floor the strongest! xxxx

  6. I wish that this boxer stays on the mat for a very very long time! I think you did a great job by knocking him down! xx

  7. Keep punching and fighting brave lady. Sending love and happy thoughts for doing some great things on your list for living. Enjoy a long Chemo holiday and keep imagining that boxer floored and not able to get up. Go Helen, and those top consultants what a team xxx

  8. Some people love to fight. They will always look for battles, while those who look for victims usually avoid those who love to fight. Your refusal to back down, and instead engage Mr C, with his nefarious plans for you, means that he is the weaker force.

    Remember, it is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight of the dog that matters.

  9. hello Helen, I echo all the above replys and send my love and prayers to you. Keep fighting and enjoy your chemo holiday and do some of the things on your list. Enjoy the summer when it comes.. Love from Denise the survivor of breast cancer.

  10. Hey,

    Loving the descriptive analysis of him. I consider mine like a slug these days as it has attacked my vertebrae. Yet it has seeped out to press on my spinal nerves and cause pain.

    I am facing the daunting incurable phrase and coping with the counselling for inevitable. But still smiling along the way. I find humour and flippant comments help me thru.

    I was told I can’t have a tattoo as the lines being so small will blend under the skin in years to come. I said I don’t give a hoot about years to come as I won’t be here, its the here
    and now and my wish to have the poignant
    tattoo where I can see it! Plus I have limited time to get it before chemo starts and want it healed.
    Please can you follow my blog too.

    I have managed to raise over £550 in less than two weeks for my tumour unit appeal whilst I was having radiotherapy at the Christie hospital in Manchester!

  11. Helen,what a wonderfull woman you are,a born fighter,I was in Santiago in Galicia,Northern Spain last week and visited the magnificent cathedral where I said a prayer for you,if you ever get a chance do visit and see the Altar of St.Andrew,where it is said that if you kiss this memorial,all your wishes will be granted.Keep fighting,David

  12. Hi Helen,

    Glad you are still working.

    Watching you live on the news channel as I type.

    Really admire your fight and courage.

  13. Hi Helen

    I saw your blog thanks to Jenny and even though i don’t know you I just wanted to say how inspirational and humbling it is to read your words
    To see you fight with such humour is amazing and I will follow with a keen eye and hope to read it for a long time to come

    Dave x

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