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. Continue reading

On blood tests

Needle in, blood out. Quick chat with Sally, the practice nurse. Go home.  Forget about it. That’s been the normal 3 monthly routine for the past year or so, and far more frequently before that.

But there’s been a change at our local surgery.  One practice has split into two and our surgery has an almost entirely new staff of doctors, nurses and whoever else works in a GP practice.  So, today, there’s a new nurse, no Sally, and the blood test went something like this:

“What’s this for? CA 125? Oh, you’ve had a bone scan.”

(Thinks: Bone scan?  Why’s she asking me about a bone scan?  I’ve had cancer, I’ve had everything scanned and she’s asking me about a bone scan?)

“Which arm?  OK, show me both arms. ”

Taps veins.  Continue reading

The silent killer

I went to a public seminar last night at the Queen’s Medical Research Institute given by  Dr Scott Fegan, one of the surgeons who took me apart just over a year ago, and Prof. Steve Hillier, an eminent research scientist.  They were presenting some of their current knowledge and research into aspects of ovarian cancer.  Very interesting, very disturbing.

Did you know that ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cancer amongst women in the UK but that, amongst the gynaecological cancers it is first in terms of deaths?   Only 40% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer survive for 5 years after diagnosis and Scotland has the worst survival rate in Europe for the disease.  Survival rates for breast cancer have improved significantly over the last 20 years but those for ovarian cancer have remained virtually unchanged in that period.  Fun, huh?

The reasons for such poor survival are buried in a mixture of reasons.  Continue reading

In remission

celebration.jpgIt’s official!  My CA125 level – the blood marker for ovarian tumours – is already back to normal and there was absolutely nothing of interest on the CT scan.  So I really am in remission – what a great Christmas present!  I feel like I’m starting to see daylight again.  Round 3 of the chemo is tomorrow, so when we get back after New Year I’ll be half way through.  It looks like I won’t be clear to dive for 6 months after the chemo finishes but that seems a small price to pay.

We’re off to my mother in law in Somerset on Sunday.  It’s her first Christmas without her husband of 50 years and it won’t be easy for her.  After that we’re heading Continue reading