This post has been a long time coming! It’s only as I take up the reins of my life that I realise how much an experience can affect me.
I’m always good in a crisis. I batten down the hatches and navigate my way through, working out coldly what needs to be done. Sometimes I fail, mostly its ok but on these journeys confidence and anxiety fluctuate until the end. These are set aside until I can deal with them. A successful outcome mostly alleviates them. Occasionally there are residues and sometimes they remain like fatballs in a sewer.
I haven’t written about the cancer diagnosis. I stated at the time too much has been written about it. what I can say is that ovarian Cancer research funds have diminished over the years. This, when it is only diagnosed in later stages. I was lucky. It’s the kind of luck that supersedes any other luck! Grace, A blessing – call it what you will – I was blessed.
The disease, emotive as it is means different things to different people. To many it’s a battle – consultants as the strategists, nursing staff as their commander in chief – down to armies of red and white blood cells. To others it’s an inconvenience – “I have cancer cells.” The person who said this to me suggested that the suggestions of a ‘few cancer cells’ retained her control rather than “having cancer” – giving it more room in the body. I was given the diagnosis and my response was,”right lets just eliminate it. It’s got to be gone!’
My friends rallied around, as did my amazing family – yet no more amazing or wonderful than other families in this position. This is not to diminish how wonderful they are and were to me. I felt loved and each and every day brought something new and wonderful: graduation, gas bbq, a pint with my brother in the pub, sisters making transatlantic flights and shopping for proper necessities. It could b a simple as a bar of soap in my favourite fragrance – or sushi(I had weird food cravings in the months before). Some say I was brave. I wasn’t I had no choice but to deal with it, whereas we have a choice whether or not to be brave in situations. So what have I learned? Quite a bit actually. Mostly not what to ask a person….
Is the consultant sure of his diagnosis?
How does he know? err the elevated CA125could be just a tiny clue in conjunction with other clinical observations.
What size is the tumour? It is a tumour because I saw the word cyst somewhere? I don’t know… but later on I’ll do an impression of a fisherman doing,’the one that got away.”
While you’re waiting for treatment could you just….? Err NO!
You look well i.e. you haven’t lost shedloads of weight and you’re still smiling! and OMG You’ve got make up on! The cancer is on the inside, I’m smiling because I’m glad to see you and grateful that I’m being treated. I’m grateful for the fabulous care I’ve had.I’m smiling because I’ve no intention of letting you see as a casual questioner, that actually last night was shitty and I felt dreadful. Makeup and skin care boost my morale.
“You need to get out and socialise more!” Yes I do but I’ll give it a miss today because I’m overwhelmed, a bit tired and I tried to clean the bath. yesterday I managed the hoover! Now that’s progress!
Post treatment: You look well. Yes I do but I still have periods of excruciating fatigue. occasionally Im I’m pain as I increase my daily number of steps. Occasionally I lose sleep as a side effect of treatment. So what kind of questions helped me?
What do you fancy to eat? Would you like to go for a short spin and have coffee
?Which box sets do you fancy next?
You look well but how do you feel….
Are you up to a short walk? Beach? Woods? Retail?Art gallery?
Do you just want hang about and watch TV together?
Any books you fancy?
A gift of sunflowers!
Can’t read… will a magazine do?
What’s your favourite bubble bath?
Do you still like Smarties?
I’m so lucky I had friends and family that did this for me – brought small gifts an d sat with me, even when I did not know what to say! Endless cups of tea and chats – it was lovely! One lovely friend made a bag with gifts to unwrap each day during treatment. I confess now I held the last of them off until two weeks ago!
Any anxieties left? Plenty. I’ll make a list of them.