After long discussions I persuaded Tom he should go to the States for a show he was working on. He’d already missed out on two weeks out there and it sounded like the team really needed him. He would be away for six weeks and with the prognosis of just months to live it seemed like six weeks could be precious time we were sacrificing, but in my heart I truly believed I had much more than time than just a few months and I knew it would be good for Tom to be forced to concentrate on something else.
My brother John would extend his stay to be with me while Tom was away and mum would come and visit to help look after me while I went through radiotherapy.
The radiotherapy to my pelvis made me really quite sick. The sunny summer days taunted me as I lay on the sofa recovering from being zapped. The rays would shrink the tumour but they also hit all the organs in that area. I felt nauseous, I was losing weight and I was getting depressed.
When you’re ill because of cancer treatment it’s hard to remind yourself that it’s not the cancer itself that is making you feel so bad. You can’t help but weigh up in your mind if it’s all worth it. You have to balance the illness of treatment with your quality of life. For anyone going through this struggle I’d have to say that, from my experience, it is better to at least give it a go and stick with it for a decent amount of time to see how you react to the treatment. You might be really ill on the first cycle of chemo and want to give up, but the second might treat you more kindly and fortunately for me, by the third I was living a relatively normal life.
I’ve read and heard many cancer sufferers say they don’t like the word ‘fight’ when talking about cancer; it’s a cliché. Maybe it is, but I do see it as a fight.
Acceptance is easier; there’s no waking up at 3am worrying if a treatment will work, if you’ll live to see your wedding day and beyond. Who wants to be constantly prodded and poked with needles? To willingly put poison into your body?
When I was feeling particularly sick one day after radiotherapy – and I feel guilty admitting this – it felt reassuring to think, ‘I’m going to die, there’s nothing I can do about it and I can stop all this treatment and give up.’ To remind myself that I had that option was comforting.
To choose to live and to battle takes energy. Some mornings I look in the mirror, take a deep breath and say to myself, ‘Come on Ellie, keep going.’ Of course ultimately I want to keep going, I really do love and cherish my life too much to give up without, dare I say it, a fight.