Friday, February 24, 2006

Oncology

So, here I am. A year ago I knew I had cancer, today I'm pretty confident I do not. But what a journey to get here. It has been the proverbial rollercoaster ride. Mostly it's been bad. But being alive to tell the tale is not bad - that is good. So why am I not more pleased? Excited? Happy?
People keep saying how I'm still healing - physically and mentally. I just feel like it has gone on for so long and will continue to go on. I can't see where the end is - I assume there is one. There had better be one.

So, a year ago yesterday I sat in that horrid Rheumatology corridor surrounded by piles of coats and scarves because it was so cold and waited to see Miss Roche. And after she had seen me and broken the news I was herded off to meet Alison Jones, the Oncology Consultant for the first time. I am exceedingly glad that I did meet her then because she managed to help me feel that there was a way to deal with this and by golly she was going to get on with it. Supremely confident, she knew what she was doing, expected the best for her patients and damn well got it. Of course, I think she got more that she bargined for with me....
This, of course, was the occasion on which she blithely announced that she "didn't do sick" and that they had lots of medications at their disposal to prevent the sickness from the chemotherapy drugs. Sadly, it transpired that my body was going to be so stressed out by these poisons that regardless of what meds. they gave me, I was still throwing up.....
The aim of the chemotherapy was to try and shrink the lump, which was a 6cm, grade two cancer - invasive ductal cancer with mucinous feature. And was tethered to the chest wall and skin. It was bad. It was probably inoperable at that stage although noone said that.
The chemotherapy drugs were to be 4 courses of AC (doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide) followed by 4 courses of Taxotere. It would take six months for all these, each one 3 weeks apart. I would be sick and nauseous, my hair would fall out, I would lose weight. But, hopefully it would shrink the lump and draw it away from the chest wall. It wouldn't shrink it enough that they wouldn't have to do the mastectomy - but it would allow them to do the mastectomy.
I was sent away for more tests at this point - to make sure the cancer hadn't spread anywhere else in my body: chest x-ray, liver ultrasound, bone scan, breast and head MRI. Alison Jones said quite confidently at this point that she didn't think it had spread. She would turn out to be right.
I can't write this emotionally - because I had no emotions at this point. I was numb. And I still am as I think about it...

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