What a roller coaster … 7 months ago was my 3rd diagnosis of Cancer and since then I have had 6 MRI scans, 1 CT scan, 3 PET scans, 1 biopsy, 3 sessions of gamma knife, 3 ECHO scans (heart scans), 4 cycles of chemotherapy and 9 cycles of Herceptin and Pertuzamab so far.
On Tuesday 12th February I got my MRI results which were really positive – thank god! I was worried as I have been having dizzy spells and I have sometimes been a little unsteady on my feet. But everything is good at the moment. There is scar tissue there and what is left is about the size of an almond. There is no swelling or any activity, but due to the positioning of my original tumour some residual effects were bound to be present, and as my neurologist put it, ‘it was a very large and nasty tumour’. But I am doing really well and I can cope with a few dizzy spells! My next scan isn’t until the middle of May – after my birthday – the big 5 0! – so I can rest easy – for now.
When things are good and life is treating you well you sometimes forget that you have cancer – and then something reminds you, and in that moment the reality hits you again. After my most recent news people said you must be so pleased, or you must be so happy – and don’t get me wrong, I am. But it is more a sense of relief. Let me try to explain this as to be honest I am still trying to understand why I feel like this myself and how I feel about the whole diagnosis and prognosis.
It is like a never ending circle. I am currently in a place of wellness, which is great and I am so grateful that I am responding well to the medical treatment and to the changes I have made in my lifestyle and I have no doubt that this will continue but when it is coming up to my next scan the what if’s creep back in, the doubts and uncertainties and the worry returns. There is absolutely nothing I can do to change the result of that scan, worrying won’t change anything, so why do I get myself into a state? – Scanxiety, this is the name my friend called it and that is such a good word. It sums up all my feelings in that one word. We are all aware that there is currently no cure for stage 4/secondary cancers, so whilst things are good now, the science says it will come back – it may be 3 months, 2 years, 10 years – who knows. The answer is we don’t. My oncologist said to me to live every day. Don’t worry about the what if’s. And this is very true – but in reality it is hard to live in the here and now without looking ahead to the future but I am getting better at it!!
I am feeling well, my hair is growing back, things are good and I am enjoying life. And whilst I am well and there is no active cancer, it still lives with me every day. It is always present, never far from my mind. That is why a lot of my recent readings are now based around the Penny Brohn approach to living well with cancer, in all areas of our physical lives but also paying attention to our mind, spirit and emotions. They are all so closely interlinked and they are what makes us – us. More and more people with stage 4/secondary cancer diagnoses are living well and leading ‘normal’ lives. It is important to not only take care of our physically well being but also for our mental and spiritual well being and with both of these working together hopefully I can continue to live well for a very long time.