Is It Too Late?
March 2, 2018
Is it too late?
Is he still breathing?
Then it’s not too late.
It’s exactly a year since my diagnosis. I am in the NHS cancer care system at Mount Vernon, and it’s exemplary. I am looked after with kindness and respect, and I am given the best treatment available for my cancer.
Things are about to change.
We are in the familiar consulting room, for, as it turns out, the last time. I won’t miss the drab blue walls, the faded Canaletto prints, the examination bed, the chilly bareness. The consultant comes in and sits opposite us with my large folder of notes on his lap. He says the words that I’m expecting. “It’s not good news. The chemo hasn’t worked this time.” The lesions in my liver have grown from 2cm to 9cm in five months, since October. He offers me second line chemo, which is another round of intravenous treatment, works in a slightly different way from before, takes place over three continuous months, and has the same side-effects plus diarrhoea. It may give me another two to three months.
I say I’d like to think about it. He says let me know and bustles out. I feel very flat on the way home, wondering how much I can fit in to the few short months I have left.
With the support of Amanda and the girls, I decide not to have more chemo. We all agree that there is no advantage in enduring three months of discomfort with no real quality of life, for such a limited and uncertain outcome.
As the days pass I feel more encouraged. Partly because I am not on any medication, and I’m relieved to be living the best life I can for as long as I’ve got. I am fully recovered from the side effects of the last round of chemo, I’m feeling well and working on my fitness. And also partly because, by chance, I met and old friend who is also battling cancer, and is choosing deliberately not to have chemo. Such a brave person, inspirational, and oddly, reassuring. We talk a lot.
I am researching the sometimes weird world of alternative therapies, and I have a meeting booked next week with an alternative medical practitioner. There is certainly a lot of crazy stuff out there, and gradually I am learning to see through the hysteria, wild claims and ‘cures’. I am reviewing and adjusting my diet, and now I can take as many vitamins and food supplements as I like with no wagging fingers from the oncologist or pharmacist. And while it’s so cold outside I’m on the bike turbo-training indoors three times a week.
I feel good and more positive then I have done in weeks. I can think clearly and my body feels like it’s mine. I know there is still hope. It’s not too late.
Here are some shots I took in moody winter-lit Broadstairs and Margate. The last frame is seconds before I got a soaking 🙂