So it all happened in May! I turned 50!! Bloody hell how did that happen!! I can’t believe it!! Where has the time gone – literally! I don’t think of myself as being 50 and I don’t feel 50 – but what should it feel like? Age really is just a number these days and people are generally living longer. When I was younger I never wanted to get old! We thought 50 was ancient! and being 50 years old was a life time away, but now here I am embracing my 50th year and hoping I will live forever!! Lots of people have celebrated their birthday’s during lockdown and my family and friends really did go over and above to make it memorable. I was quite overwhelmed and had a fabulous day. One I certainly won’t forget – thank you to everyone who played a part – I love you all!
I also had my scans in May – it is now 9 months since my gamma knife finished (10 months since I was diagnosed with my brain tumour) and 6 months since my chemo finished. It is hard to believe that on the 5th July it will be a year since my diagnosis. Something my brain consultant said right at the beginning of my treatment is never far from my mind. He told me that 60% of tumours grow back within the first 6 to 12 months. The percentage of those that don’t go grow back was much higher than I expected and why shouldn’t I be in that percentage??
Another trip out and this time in to Bristol to have my MRI scan done. My consultant did my results appointment over the phone due to the covid-19 situation and it wasn’t quite the news I was expecting. I have had no dizzy spells, no balance issues and no headaches. In the past 3 months I have felt (and still do) really well and so expected my results to be the same as 3 months ago – with no change. However, he told me that there had been a very slight change of 0.5 mm. This is tiny, I tried to measure it, but when it comes to tumours any change needs consideration. He said that this is the time they expect to see changes but he is unable to tell me if it is the tumour regrowing or whether it is scar tissue. He said that there is nothing to worry about at this time and so the plan is to monitor and re-scan in 3 months. So it is not bad news just more uncertainty. So my next PET/CT was next and to be honest I was worried about this. I have had a lot of pain in my shoulder joints, upper arms and I don’t have the same strength as I was once did. It was painful to lift my arms above my heads, taking the tops of jars and even turning over in bed, so of course in true Ali style I had been researching bone cancer – as this is one of the more common places breast cancer can spread to. Once you have had or have something like cancer it can be easy to think that any twinge or pain could be related to it and despite my positive, fighting outlook on my cancer I can be quite a pessimistic person!! I call it being realistic!! But I only had to wait 2 days to hear from my oncologist and he phoned last Wednesday. He told me that I have continued to maintain a full metabolic response with no evidence of any metastases to the bones. Well this was amazing news and I was so relieved that the pain I had was not due to me having developed bone cancer. I was still okay and everything in my liver and lungs is fine and all my blood tests, cancer markers etc are all within normal ranges. So the pain in my shoulders etc. is still unexplained but probably related to the menopause, treatment side effects and getting older!!
So what do I do? Do I spend the next 3 months wondering, worrying about what is going on inside my brain? Worrying about the what ifs and might bes? My oncologist said to me a while ago, live for today and don’t worry about the what ifs? And although this is easier said than done that is exactly what I intend to do – or at least try to do. The Penny Brohn approach is very much about living in the here and now which is an amazing philosophy to follow but not always easy to do. Not to dwell on what may be or what might happen. I could spend the next 3 months worrying and the results could be the same as they are today or things could have progressed. Either way we will not know until August. We do not know how long we have on this earth and I don’t want to waste time worrying about things that I cannot control. So I will try and concentrate on what I can control and that is changing my mindset to living in the present. Enjoying life while I’m in it. While I can.