The post-diagnosis routine was coming to an end. John would return to Australia and Tom had arrived back from America; the baton of care was being passed. I had been through two cycles of the chemotherapy and my week of radiotherapy was now a month behind me.
My body was growing stronger and days spent on the sofa were becoming fewer. I was coping with the chemo and the dark thoughts of ‘is this worth it’ were increasingly being eclipsed by my good health. It’s easy to want to live when you’re well, a little trickier when you’re in pain and suffering.
I’d had a CT scan the week Tom had returned and we were now waiting for the results on the following Friday. My older sister, Sarah, and her baby bump were visiting from Italy to support me for our meeting with Current Consultant. Was the chemo working? If it had been I’d stay on it, if it hadn’t then it would be back to Professor Hope to decide what trials were available.
My hip was still troubling me; it ached at night and I had to rely on the crutch to get around. The radiotherapy didn’t seem to have had much effect and I was beginning to think that I was lumbered with the wretched thing for the rest of my life. It was a constant reminder of the cancer.
I missed playing the games of the daily commute; dodging tube passengers with their deadly draggy-bags, swerving around the tourists standing perplexed in front of the barriers. The Matrix-like moves I used to employ to avoid being shoulder-checked by grey-faced city types seemed to be long behind me. Now I was the person holding up the stampede of angry Londoners. Never mind all this ‘cancer slows you down and makes you reassess your life’ bollocks – it had literally slowed me down and I was livid! My only consolation was that the crutch doubled as a weapon; ‘The Stick of Justice,’ as my brother and I named it, though as yet it remains unwielded.
Arriving at the hospital I felt fairly calm. I was almost hoping the chemo wasn’t working; I had a grand plan of being put on a trial and being treated with a new wonder drug that would turn out to be the cure for cancer! I didn’t want half measures; I wanted a miracle.
But when Current Consultant gave me the news I was flooded with relief; I was responding to the chemo and the tumours were shrinking. Lately the lumps on my chest had been feeling smaller but I almost didn’t believe it. Sometimes you get so lost in bad news you don’t trust your own judgement.
Current Consultant warned me that the Capecitabine wouldn’t work forever but at that moment I didn’t care. I was learning to take each day as it came and this day was a victory; the chemo had bought me more precious time. Sod the ifs and buts, at that moment I felt like I was at the front of the schoolyard scrum joyfully screaming, ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’ as the cancer got a good old-fashioned kicking.