A Pause For Thought
June 23, 2017
We are waiting to see the consultant. It’s 45 long minutes after our appointment time and still no-one has called us. We are very tense. This is the meeting when we are told how well I’m doing on the chemotherapy. Manda goes to find someone and is told we aren’t on the list, come back in 45 minutes. We wander off to have an edgy coffee.
90 minutes late and we are ushered into a consulting room. It has three metal chairs, a sink and a bed. The oncologist bustles in with my growing file of notes in his arms and says ‘How are you, Stephen?’ I reply ‘I’m not sure’ (my nerves are in shreds and I don’t like being called Stephen). ‘In yourself’ he says. ‘I’m good’ I say.
He hands me a sheet of paper. ‘Read the top line’. I read aloud – “There has been an excellent response to treatment since the previous examination. Many of the previously noted lesions have reduced dramatically in size.” I struggle to hold my voice steady. “For example, the previously noted 5.9 cm lesion now measures 2.5 cm. There are no metastatic deposits in the liver that have not responded to treatment. No new sites of disease”
I look at Amanda. I look at the doctor. I hardly dare to believe what I have just read.
I’m getting better.
He smiles and says that I now have a choice. I can complete the chemo course – three more sessions – although the effects of the drugs will be far less dramatic. Or I can cancel the remaining treatments, have another CT scan in ten weeks time, and review my progress then. It’s about the quality of your life, he says.
In a blur of emotion, and struggling to understand what all this means, we opt for the chemo holiday. It will give my battered body a chance to recover over the summer. The cancer has not gone, but it is greatly reduced. The drugs are brutal but they are working.
Manda and I drive home in a teary haze. A heavy shadow has been lifted from over us, at least for now. A good day. A good good day.