Sunday, 25 December 2011

Keep Calm Carry On

OK, disaster averted, Christmas is back on! Which is wonderful, with a tinge of argh, since I had put everything on hold until results day, which meant a frantic SIX HOUR shopping frenzy. In Oxford Circus. (One armed). On 23rd December, which nearly finished me off in itself.

So where you left me last I had received news of cancer refuting it's eviction notice and sneaking it's tiny little cousin in through the cat flap, to start building a home just under the scar left by the old stuff. Now I am not a good receiver of bad news. I know many people aren't, but I have reached a level of lunacy whereby I not only latch onto the negative aspects of a conversation, but also think the doctors are hiding information from me or just out and out lying. So far I believed the original ultrasound doctor could see the lump was cancerous, but assured me it was fibrodanoema so I wouldn't spend the whole week worrying about biopsy results. Also the doctor who delivered the news of my non-spread to lymph nodes the first time round was either lying, or couldn't read an MRI, since it had spread there. Then there were the several family members, nurses, phone help lines and subsequent ultrasound doctor who tried to convince me this new lump was residual scar tissue from the op, only to be told um, no wrong again - its residual cancer instead.

So you see, by process of logical progression, a series of scans to determine whether new cancer had spread this time did nothing to restore my bad news receptor. A 'we don't expect it to have spread' from the surgeon loosely translates in my world to; 'there's a chance it has spread otherwise we wouldn't do the tests, plus there's been pain in your bones and liver, yes, sure it's liver pain, which obviously means it has spread, and since the small chances in the past have become reality, then this too must follow.'

I was pretty much convinced, hence zero Christmas plans. I didn't manage to utter more than seven words a day for the week-long wait for results, and my mum actually took Christmas off the menu while we all waited for my head (or liver) to explode.

Turns out I was wrong, maybe the doctors don't use lying as part of their medical practise, and this new lump, which they think is actually just old lump having another go, is treatable. The weird bit is that this Christmas I do have cancer, just like last; I'm facing another operation and in all likelihood another bout of chemo, but I'll take that, with some brandy cream and orange quality street, in light of what I could have been facing. I'm sure I would have picked myself up and battled on eventually, but after the year my family and I have had, I would've liked a bit longer for my body and brain to resume normal service in order to deal with the new level of sh!t. As so many amazing people I know of have and do, and are having joyous lovely Christmas days along with the rest of us. I have seen Twitter evidence of this feat of extraordinariness this very morning.

So one Christmas day on, and what a difference a year makes. But in some ways, not one tiny bit...Hey ho (ho ho)...

Christmas Jumper ON
Merry Christmas xxx

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Happy Anniversary

The good news is I'm sort of tentatively working on a book born from this very blog. A few people have pointed me in that direction, and as cathartic as the blog has been, surely a book will be even more so, with some ego boosting and official 'authoring' thrown in. My agent (ooh!) has suggested I start from the beginning. Not remarkable in book terms, but since this blog hasn't particularly been chronological, I'm dredging my memory for how it happened in real time.

The first bit - the dreaded diagnosis - is basically impossible to forget. Reading the doctors faces before they've delivered the news, not really listening because the blood pumping in the ears situation makes it very difficult to hear.  I REALLY haven't forgotten. Not even a little bit, as much as I would have loved to. But JUST IN CASE, the god of sh!t timing has sent me a refresher course in the form of a shiny brand new bout of cancer. Even more poignant, since it came one day after the anniversary of my initial diagnosis, which anyone will tell you is a difficult day in itself.

So here I am again, holed up in my mum and dads house, awaiting tests, more tests and even more test results, already one operation down,  and yes, thoroughly very much absolutely um, not sure of the word here. I don't think there is one yet invented for the weird, jumbled, up n' down ness of such a quick recurrence.

The good news is it's not a massive shock compared to (EXACTLY) this time last year. I'm more p!ssed off, but that's far too mild a description. I went to a couple of weddings two summers ago, both of which broke down within 6 months. I felt a bit about them as I do about this - what was all the celebrating for then? I'd like a refund on my bar bill please, and I'll take that honeymoon contribution back as well thanks very much.

The worst bit is how tainted all the nice stuff seems now. What a waste. I don't think my dad can afford another hog roast for my new I'm All Better Party - and in actual fact, I don't want one. Scrap Christmas too while you're at it. From now on December officially sucks...


I have a little one for now: 'more blog fodder.'

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Letter Bombs

I won't go into too much detail here, since you really don't need to know the inner and outer goings on of my body on a day to day basis, but if I never have to see another one of those blue stamped NHS letters in my post cubby hole it will be too soon. Oh how they fill me with dread. So far they've ranged from 'please fill in this inpatient questionnaire' to 'you need to come in for further testing', to the point where every reading is like a postal Russian Roulette.

OK, I have planned and executed my outfit for today, I have strategically planned my day from alarm setting, to tube timings, I have left and locked up my house and picked up my post on the way out. Oh hello blue NHS envelope, welcome back to the life and times of Sophie A Beresiner. You have the potential to obliterate my entire month so now, on the 141 to London Bridge, do I open and read your contents, or do I attempt to enjoy the rest of my day with the looming dread of its contents hanging over me?

This isn't really a quandary, since I don't have the mindset of someone who can hang onto a sealed envelope and not obsess about its contents. Thus far I've received a heady mix of CC's from various oncologists and radiotherapists telling each other about the medical intricacies of my cancer. Even though I ticked the box that said DO NOT send me these letters, since I (quite correctly and astutely) worried how my overactive imagination would deal with them. I'm not sure why I'm getting them, but now I'm too chicken to put a stop to them. What if I miss out on some vital life-saving information?

Oh how I miss the days of over-inflated credit card bills and Graham & Green catalogues. I know there's something I can do about this, there must be. Short of going nuts in the Gold Label section of Tk Maxx, I'm not entirely sure what the answer is to redress the balance, but I would so like to fluff out my letterbox with normal financial worries say, and have the medical profession leave my body and mind alone, just for a few weeks at least.

Its got to a point where Dadjokes fields my mail and breaks things to me gently. He goes through some deep breathing exercises of his own, but I'm not sure if they're of the same mental space as mine, or more the 'oh lord, how am I going to sugar coat another one of these to my newly neurotic fiancé?'

It is true, we are a killer combination of Anxious and Anxious-er. Although a perfect match in many ways - hence the impending nuptials - the one place we're a bit too similar is the place not conducive to a calm after-care experience. Thus far Dadjokes' tactic is this; feign calmness, but don't succeed in fooling said neurotic fiancé, ('smeyesing' is only convincing when Tyra Banks does it), hold breath till professional/medical confirmation that initial calm stance was appropriate, break down in relieved hysteria. If this were BBC1, our dynamic would draw good viewing figures. But when its an audience of 2 cats and a sofa, drama isn't welcome on the programming schedule.

The key is of course, moi. My anxiety is a self fulfilling prophecy. So, I have a mantra, I'm trying it out for size; Don't Worry, Be Happy! (exclamation mark imperative). The thing with Mantras is they need some kind of belief system right? Or does simply repeating a phrase so many times make it true? So far, semi good. My strenuous efforts to replace 'worry' with 'happy' has seen me take up a whole load of new (and expensive) hobbies, such as excessive theatre-going and any excuse for an evening out. These things take care of the waking hours, its the nights I'm still working on. Suggestions glady received. Not drug-related though thanks. I have too many social occasions I need to be alert for...