It’s been over a week since the All Clear. After so much anxiety in the build up to the scans, its hard not feel the come down from the high in the following days. People say ‘You must be so happy that it’s over’ and I feel very curmudgeonly saying, ‘I am thrilled, of course, but it’s now only four and half years until I can say I’m in remission’. Continue reading
I’ve now been back a week and am easing back into my old routine. 45 minutes of yoga and meditation in the mornings, a daily visit to Prof Tee Tong Ang (more later, http://chinesenaturecure.com/) and then picking up on my mother’s war letters project. And doing lots of cooking for my recipe book!
On arrival, as if on cue, far away from the comfort of the Marsden and the lovely Dr Miah, my leg turns scarlet on the radiotherapy burn and swells up like a balloon. Continue reading
Six sessions down, five and half more weeks to go. It has taken all this time to get the treatment exactly right: after having the whole team round my bedside, we experimented on consecutive days with new stirrup positions, the physicist returned to take measurements, the blue sponges returned…and now we are back to Plan A – the blue sponges, and lining the camera up to get the oblique angle and protect the underside of the knee to prevent fibrosis.
I saw the lovely Dr Miah on Friday: we discussed nutrition (a little of what you fancy, lots of snacks to prevent weight loss). She also told me off gently for wearing narrow, if soft, trousers and my fancy patent boots. She said even if there is no pain, my leg needs air as all materials will rub against the soft underside of my knee. But I can dress up on special occasions! My next scan won’t be until June. So annoyingly longer to wait, but she confirmed Prof Khong’s advice that too early, and you won’t see anything. However, if they do spot a single nodule in the lung (first port of a call) they will chop it out; more than one – chemo. For the record, I did ask!
The tube strike made for a couple of anxious days – late or non-arriving taxis, but the journeys themselves were remarkably quick. The sessions also ran more or less on time; with Friday’s starting a minute early, and I was out in 10. Hope this is promise of things to come.
This week I have had cousin Christine from Geneva to keep me company: as well as some nice lunches, retail therapy, movies (Dallas Buyers Club, Inside Llewyn Davis and August: Osage County – see reviews on www.vickyatthemovies.net), we have been navigating the tube: walking to South Ken, change at Kings Cross and then to Belsize Park, rather liberating. Trying to get back to being normal.
We bought a Big Issue outside South Ken; as Christine scrabbled in her bag for money, the guy saw her new stripy pyjamas. ‘I used to have a pair just like that, except they were blue. In prison.’ He gave us a big toothless grin.
However, I think I underestimated the physical effects. By Saturday night my leg was very swollen and sore (not red or burned) and stiff. I have also had some immunity failings – thrush and herpes: surgeon Dave says I should be upfront as even doctors don’t really understand how gruelling RT can be. Depressing given my super-healthy diet: juicing every day with beetroot, carrots, ginger, greens and whatever I have from my Riverford box, plus Christine’s home-made granola and our wholly organic diet. Not forgetting my yoga (shoulder-stand, plus lots of contorted poses made more difficult by lack of calf muscle) and my latest discovery, meditation. 10 minutes a day. Judy delivered a freezer-load of Jamaican and traditional chicken soup, and Annita brought a delicious lunch. I am being thoroughly spoiled.
The Ladies rota kicks in next week (thanks Janie), and Ross comes at the weekend…things to look forward to. Carpe Diem.
A phone call yesterday bump starts me out of my holding pattern. ‘Professor Thomas has reviewed your scans and says there are no surprises, but can you come and see him tomorrow morning?’
I can’t help but wonder why (that sick feeling again, I said it would be the first of many last time); my instinct tells me there is a need for further discussion. The rest of the day passes in a blur of friends, a haze of chocolates, flowers and gifts, not to mention several glasses of fizz.
This morning Ross arrives at 6am, from Singapore, and we go together to the appointment.
My sixth sense is right: there is a discussion. The lovely oncologist Dr Miah and the Prof are now recommending that we consider 6 weeks of radiotherapy, followed by 6 weeks recovery, then the surgery to remove the tumour.
On cross-examination it appears the only benefit of this approach is that my leg will receive less radiation and to a smaller area. If I have the op first, they will have to irradiate the whole area around the incision, probably the length of my calf. (The diagram here shows the soleus and the gastrocnemius muscles.)
The purpose is not therefore to shrink the tumour to make it easier to operate: the Prof says it makes little difference to his surgery; and indeed there is no guarantee that radiotherapy works on my kind of tumour.
For me it’s a no brainer: I really don’t think I can take this pain for another three months, nor live with the anxiety of hosting my tumour, which might spread in the interim, especially if the radiotherapy doesn’t work. I also need to capitalise on my current levels of positivity, which might get worn down with such a distant objective. My recovery will, in the end, all be down to this.
The Prof understands my thinking completely, as does Dr Miah. The pain factor cannot be underestimated. It’s a deal! And of course, it may just mean I can escape to Switzerland for Christmas and New Year, although skiing is along way off (even walking is going to be difficult for a long time). It’s about things to look forward to….
Also my other surgeon, Prof Khong, who has been in touch, favours immediate surgery. I am still revelling the comparison to Helen Mirren – what do you think? Perhaps it’s more about indomitable spirit rather than physical resemblance. Don’t forget she was in her 40s in this photo and I am now 56! Mind you I think I look pretty grim!
Carpe diem does mean seize the day after all, so that day is now Friday, and after that the only way is up…
LOOKALIKE (apologies to Private Eye)
Administrative notes: I will be in the Royal LISTER Hopsital on Chelsea bridge Road at least until Monday; please don’t just pop in unannounced but contact Ross on 07831361190 as he will be my gatekeeper