So many thoughts are crowding my mind about the future – it really feels as if a kind of crunch time is approaching and it is really. I am three quarters of my way through the long chemo path – HURRAY – and of course I am so glad to be nearing the end of these tough and horrible months. Even the prospect of weeks of radiation feels much more doable. So why am I getting myself in a knot instead of preparing celebrations?
It’s that big question which is easy to forget when buried in the exclusive chemo club while the focus is just on getting through it. The all important question – Did the treatment work???? I am so scared that despite the heavy and thorough treatment, I will not be in the statistics which will see me cancer free. I don’t think I actually believe that will happen, but it is for sure my biggest fear, and I am sure I am far from alone in this. It is what we all dread. Right now, everything I am focusing on is based around recovery, and anything or everything else is too scary. Not just for the medical side (and that is a very scary prospect) but the implications on our whole life and future. There would be more treatment and the physical, emotional and mental toll of renewed rounds of treatment. Delay in recovery. Jeopardising return to work. The yearn for a life which is not based totally around treatment. Managing a long, difficult and chronic decline in health. All very, very frightening.
I am not trying to be negative and gloomy, but a cancer diagnosis brings with it possibilities which are not nice, and while not wanting to dwell on this side and on the probabilities of not recovering, I have to think of what we might have to do if I am in the small percentage for whom the treatment has not totally eradicated the disease or for whom there is recurrence or spread.
In fact I remember just after my surgery, talking with close family and saying how much I have done and lived through especially in the past few years in Asia. I was trying to say that even if the worst case scenario transpires, that I don’t have huge regrets. (Though of course I still want to see the kangaroo, iceberg and northern lights/Aurora Borealis). But do not mistake that for acceptance or expectation that the worst scenario will transpire. I fully intend and plan to get better – and remember my 2010 mantra is Recovery, Discovery and Laughter. But, let’s be honest, cancer is cancer and it is also going to put up a fight.
It does make me think back to my first appointment with my Dr in Yangon, back at the end of September and prior to diagnosis. I was asking all sorts of impossible “what if” questions. If it is cancer, what is the treatment likely to be, for example. My Dr explained that (from where we were at that point) there were many scenarios – including a benign diagnosis. For each there are international protocols guiding treatment paths. As hard as it would be, her advice to me was to try and take each step as it came. Then we would know what we were dealing with and be able to work with specifics. We needed facts – otherwise all is speculation.
And I think that is why my head is where it is at just now – because the next lot of facts sure have a lot riding on them. And isn’t the mind a funny and often independent thing? Here I am, 75% of the way through chemo, and there it goes, actively seeking new worries?
So I am making a real effort to take my Dr’s original advice and focus on the “NOW”, on this step and the next two chemos. Let’s see if I can boost those red cells through diet, build my strength through my beloved and obsessive swimming, and try and get Twang Arm in line with some new activities.
However, it does mean I do have big questions for Dr W2 in Bangkok next time. I do want and need to know how and when we are going to know if everything we are throwing at the cancer beast has indeed has indeed sent it running!