5 months ago I was given news that mutant cancer cells had decided to pay my body another visit, although this time the stakes were high and the statistics against me. Listening to a medical professional explain to you that “only 5% of colorectal patients have this mutation” and “there’s only a 30% chance that this line of treatment will work” is devastating. Actually words can’t even describe what this feels like.
The worst part to this type of news is sharing it with those you love, you know that there’s no way to “sugar coat” it. I think it’s so much easier for the person to digest, yet so much more difficult for those around them. Feelings of helplessness, unfairness and anger.
So with statistics against me I decided there’s two ways to deal with this – be in complete denial and tackle this beast head on or accept the worst case scenario. Of course my sheer stubbornness, drive and determination I decided to opt for complete denial, let’s tackle these bad boy cells and crack on.
I started chemotherapy (again), this time three hardcore drugs (no I’ve never done things by half!), fortnightly cycles. Side effects have been different this time around with my biggest challenges being:
- Managing an acne type rash that’s consumed my face and body – it’s a full time job! Coconut oil is the answer, amazing stuff
- Hair loss – this has been the most distressing side effect, in the space of two weeks I think I lost 60% of my hair. I still have hair – extremely thin, I’m completely paranoid about it and I’m determined not to wear a wig (stubbornness kicks in). I’ve had it cut really short at the back, got a silk pillow (which is amazing) and just trying to keep as many hairs on my head as possible!
- Cuts/cracks in fingers and heels of my feet. Ok these are so tiny but so painful – it’s like having half a dozen deep paper cuts. It makes really fiddly things like undoing buttons, jars, opening things etc really difficult. It also hurts walking (even though I did walk 27 miles on my recent trip to Budapest!). So I’m constantly moisturising and nurturing my hands and feet!
During October I completed 6 cycles of chemotherapy and was sent for a CT scan to check whether this line of treatment was working. I was told if it wasn’t working then we would be in a situation of “unknowns” and limited options as the next line of treatment isn’t currently available on the NHS. So you could safely say that this scan was the scan of my life!
A week later I got my results – I don’t think I’ve ever been as anxious and argumentative the morning of my results. If I could have sent someone else in to receive them I would have done. But I put on my big girl pants and entered the room. The Consultant asked how I was in which I responded – “cut to the chase, please give me the results”. He told me that my lymph nodes had reduced in size so treatment WAS WORKING. Shock and a huge sense of relief came over me. Finally I’m in the 30% category! Yey!! I’m actually going to live past Christmas and into 2017 – news like this is like being born again and given another chance to live.
So we are cracking on with the next 6 cycles and I’ll be scanned again in January. I knew and believed that this line of treatment was working (I’ve had enough side effects – no pain no gain) and having the resilience to pick myself up, remain positive and live life has also contributed to this.
Who needs Christmas presents? I don’t, I’ve got the gift of living for as long as I possibly can and my plan is to enjoy the journey. So on those days when you wake up feeling pants remember you’ve got two choices – let your mood ruin your day or say to yourself, yes I’m not feeling great today but let’s live it?
It’s all about what’s going on right now, what you can control and my new motto from now on…..