Moving on

It is over a week now since the Big Check and for the first time in what feels like forever, I feel I am finally moving forward.

I have found myself using corny expressions to describe how it feels, and corny they might be but they also feel highly accurate.  I really do feel as if a curtain has been lifted and I am able to see much more clearly ahead of me.

I didn’t realise just how much things felt as they were “on hold” and how much I was pinning on the Big Check.  I have been reluctant to make any plans, and even things like colouring the new hair has been avoided in case there was anything which meant more chemo and losing it all again.  No point in colouring it and then it all falling out.  Similarly there was no point in booking a break and then finding I had to cancel because I needed treatment again.  I even felt hesitant about getting a prosthesis which was more of a match – in case I would lose its match!  I know this all sounds extreme, but that is an illustration of the games that your mind starts to play once you have heard the cancer word.

But now I have had the Big Check, suddenly I feel as if I can finally look ahead and move forward.

Earlier I described life following a Breast Cancer diagnosis as a bit like having a lens through which I now see everything.  That is still the case, but since the Big Check I find that the lens has been adjusted quite dramatically, and my vision is clearer and sharper.  Just like getting new glasses in fact!

The result of this is that I very much hope that life will feel less dominated by cancer.  The fear of course will not disappear, and I know that nothing is guaranteed.  But for now, I can move forward with new priorities.

I hope that this might be reflected in the blog too.  Cancer is still a big deal, and will continue to provide the “inspiration” as well as information and news, for much of its content.  However, I think it will be balanced by more news and insights of life of the Feisty Blue Gecko, and might be a little more like the original blog.

So in that spirit, I am happy to update that we in fact rushed back from the big check in Bangkok last weekend.  And the reason for that was to attend a wedding here.  What better way to focus on the future than by sharing the marriage of a lovely young couple and being part of the celebration of their future life together and indeed the future.

And now I am preparing for a return to Bangkok next week.  For the first time in well over a year this will be my first trip to Bangkok which is not for medical reasons.  Visits to Thailand used to represent a break from the intensity of work wherever I was based at the time, as well as an opportunity to stock up on essentials not available there and of course yummy Thai food!  I really thought that my treatment time and the frequent visits to Bangkok would actually change the way I felt about visiting the city and somehow “spoil” it for me.  Well, I am amazed and delighted to say that I am ridiculously excited about my forthcoming visit to Bangkok (for work reasons) – and I have to say that this has quite taken me by surprise!

That must be a clear signal that I am really moving on.

Can it be true?

It is a bright and sunny day in Bangkok, and it hasn’t sunk in yet …………………………….

……. but it is there in black and white – and blue and red – my final radiation zap!  I even get 2 neat lines underneath the final session just to make sure I don’t get confused and come back for more! Finally, 25 out of 25 sessions done! One Feisty Blue Gecko well cooked and done!

So it is goodbye to the Bunker with its lead lined door and red flashing light ………………

Goodbye to the blue mould that has held me in the same position ………….

and the beeps, whirrs and rays of the machine.

I will see the staff again at follow up appointments, so I have words of immense thanks and gratitude to them, rather than a goodbye.

And hello the new phase of RECOVERY!

I realise it is exactly 7 months ago today that I had my first chemo session, and – how weird is this? It is 8 months TO THE DAY that I first discovered the lump.  The past 8 months have been the most challenging, frightening and difficult of my life, yet I have so much to be thankful for.

It is far from over though.  The heavy duty treatment which was set out when I was diagnosed is now completed. I have appointments this week with Drs W and W2 for a review of how the treatment has gone, and to plan the next phase of care.  We will also find out if I am fit to travel long haul and get back to Scotland for long overdue leave.  I will have review and follow up appointments after my leave.  Depending on how Dr W2 feels the treatment has gone, I may have another surgery – my de-portation ;) or removal of my port.  I have started taking Tamoxifen (another story for another post) as a measure to prevent recurrence.

I also have a lot of physical recovery to focus on.  Twang arm has been attempting to stage a comeback during radiation and is really stiff and painful.  Slowly but surely revenge is coming for Twang arm.  The skin changes and burn from radiation need a bit of time to heal.  The nerve damage from surgery also needs work to repair slowly. I still have a number of reminders of chemo, especially Taxotere – numb fingers, tender feet, aching and tired legs, sensitive skin – and BALDNESS!  These take time to get out of the system, and some reminders may be permanent.

It feels as if Bangkok and I are both nursing our wounds and scars and looking towards the healing stage.  We have been through something life-changing, unforgettable and traumatic.  Although things will never be the same again, for the moment at least it feels as if it is time for healing and recovery.

Today, Bangkok also feels as if it is moving away from the past dark days.  There is a huge clean up going on, the sky train and other public transportation is getting back to normal.  There was a violent thunderstorm last night which seems to have cleansed the atmosphere and the day is fresh and bright today.

Life changed for sure when I discovered that lump, and although it will be different, I feel at last as if I am on a different path now that I am on the other side of all the heavy stuff.   I am under no illusions – I know that recurrence or metastasis is a risk, and once diagnosed the fear of recurrence is ever present.  I know that the old port might be needed again one day and I could have to face heavy treatment at some point again in the future.

But for now I need to bask in the sunshine of this phase and enjoy the fact that I have got through all of this.