Oh, I’ve been so complacent. So complacent that I could be accused, quite rightly, of being smug. Cancer? Pah! Caught early, had the treatment, done and dusted. No one was expecting it back; I was one of the success stories. I would go for checkups at 3 month, then 6 month intervals, saunter in unconcerned and saunter out again a few minutes later with a date for 6 months hence. At 3 1/2 years, I was really starting to put it all behind me. Fit and well, getting on with my life, rarely thinking about cancer, happy with my lot, telling anyone who asked that it was gone.
Had I missed the point, that check ups are for a reason? They wouldn’t be doing check ups if there was no risk. And so, two weeks ago, the ground disappeared from under my feet. For various reasons, this time round, I hadn’t managed to get a blood sample taken before my appointment – normally, they have the CA 125 results at the clinic. It was no big deal; they would contact me in a couple of days once the results were through. Two days later, when the registrar phoned first thing in the morning, I could hear the shock in her voice. My CA125, which had been so low since the surgery, had shot up. I needed repeat bloods, a scan, a return to the clinic; maybe there was a mistake but, more likely, the cancer was back.
It took a little while for the significance of all this to sink in. I had been about to pick up the phone to a boat skipper when the call came. I abandonned survey planning and picked blackcurrants instead, tears flowing. The doctor phoned back later for a longer chat and I began to understand the implications. This wasn’t just bad news; it was almost the worst news. From what I understand, treating relapse disease is far more difficult than treating the initial cancer and if it has returned, they are unlikely to be able to cure it. So here’s hoping that once, just for once, a technician somewhere has made a mistake and it wasn’t my blood at all. I had a CT scan today. I’ll know the results on Friday.
I’ve been an emotional wreck for the past couple of weeks. I can’t comprehend at present what the future might be but I’m not imagining anything pleasant. I swing from certainty that it’s all one horrible mistake to waking in the night and thinking that I might as well stop my pension contributions. It’s the last thing I think of before I go to sleep. In the morning, I get about 10 seconds grace before it all comes rushing back. Meanwhile, I’ve turned into a confirmed hypochondriac and every little twinge – of the sort that I wouldn’t normally notice – becomes a massive tumour requiring immediate action.
There’s lots more to say but I think it will keep until I know. Enough to say that I am not optimistic. I am no longer complacent. But I am very, very frightened.
And to any Facebook friends who happen to read this – I’d appreciate no comments on Facebook for teh time being at least. I’ll take it as read that you’ve hit the dislike button.