I’m back. Finally, for the first time in months I feel much more like me.
The trouble with chemo is that it takes such a long time to recover from. It doesn’t help that by the time I finished, my magnesium levels were almost non-existent. Slowly I’m getting better. I wish that just having the toxic drugs automatically annihilated tumours but it’s not that easy. You could go through all this and it still have no effect.
One of the hardest parts of having cancer is waiting for important test results. It’s like having a really evil lottery ticket. You get automatic entry into the draw. With the right set of numbers, your life could be transformed. You get to have more years on the clock, a renewed sense of hope for the future and a holiday from the chemo.
Before you find out the result it seems that anything is possible. You run though all the lovely things that the good news would bring. It seems so real. Despite the odds, which for this advanced stage of ovarian cancer are bleak, you always dream of winning the jackpot.
What makes this cancer lottery such a nasty game is that being given the wrong set of numbers can only mean more pain, suffering and worse. When it’s bad news, it feels like you were almost within touching distance of something great and it’s been snatched away. When the reality is that you weren’t even close.
So several weeks after finishing chemo I was back at the hospital to find out my magic numbers. It’s at times like this that you’ll find me next to the fish tank. Sitting in a high backed chair with hard wooden arms. The chair is a nasty shade of pink. It’s a colour that is probably supposed to be welcoming to cancery people. When to me all it says is bulk buy and wipe clean.
I am solid block of nerves. Not the excited, adrenalin infused buzz that I get when I’m about to do something scary or go live on TV. But there is a crushing lump of anxiety which fills my body. It makes my breathing short and my brain run slowly.
You wait and wonder about the numbers.
My coat is off and laying across my lap and my bag is by my side. I am more than ready to spring out of my seat when my name is called. The fish tank seat is nearest to the consultants’ rooms.
No news is good news. For those few moments or even hours you are not being told something horrible, which is why I don’t mind the waiting part.
It’s the wondering that I find stressful. It’s as if every cell in my body is on standby. Ready for flight or fight but all you can do is sit. I’m almost frozen with fear. I don’t really want to talk, I can’t eat or drink, I can’t move. The tips of my fingers tingle with nervous energy. Or maybe it’s the chemicals.
You try to think positive but after getting so much bad news you know that hope alone won’t change a thing. You prepare for the worst. My brain is jittery.
Yes or no? Good or bad? Life or death? My consultants don’t mess around. We’ve been through this so many times before. They know that I want the cold, hard facts straight away. It only takes a second to find out. The combination of chemo and clinical trial drugs are working. It’s the right result.
Yes. Good. Life.
All I feel is relief. Not happiness or joy. This pure relief is similar to the sensation you get from quickly drinking a glass of something strong and full of ice, it seems to flood through my body. I relax.
The enormity of the news is only now starting to sink in as I start to feel more like myself. It means I get to live longer. Hopefully years longer. This is amazing!
My cancer is not cured but the disease is dormant once again. No one knows how long it will stay this way. Right now I’m just trying to focus on being the current holder of a winning ticket.