In what feels like a staged approach the last week has been a big one including getting the results of my first MRI since my chemotherapy and radiotherapy began in January this year and then the start of my 2nd phase of treatments.
I was warned previously that the MRI results might be inconclusive because of swelling the radiotherapy can cause meaning it can look like tumour growth even though it’s totally fine. On the day however my new Oncologist showed me the scans and beamed whilst saying they were totally confident that there has been no growth at all which considering the aggressive nature of my cancer is remarkable.
I’d like to say we celebrated through the night and although I’ll get there, it’s been very hard getting used to the idea that being told there’s no growth (of the tiny 2% still in there and other ‘hidden’ cancer cells) is the best outcome I should expect.
At the same time I really do realise that this is brilliant news considering my type of cancer and a huge achievement which I will let sink in slowly and at its own pace.
The day after my chemotherapy started again. It’s double the dose but this time it’s gone to cycles of 5 days on and then 23 days off instead of continuously every day. It’s also still in tablet form which means I can still travel and I only have to visit the hospital once a week for blood tests which continues to blow my mind at how much independence you can still have. Depending on how it goes I’ll then be doing between 6 and 12 cycles starting from now.
Finally I also started my Optune treatment which involved all my hair having to be cut and shaved off. As usual the build-up was far more extreme than the actual event itself and as always my incredible friends and family came together and quite literally held my hand or beamed love and energy through it all. We turned the day from one of anxiety and grief of a loss of identity into a warm glow of love, laughter, freedom and positivity simply by asking my friends for support and a few of us sitting together on my sunny roof terrace firstly meditating followed by lots of hugs, humorous memories and then finally shaking my new hairless head around to grasp how it felt to be the new me.
And to be honest this new version is looking pretty fierce and whilst the practicalities of Optune are something to get used to it’s been remarkable how quickly I’ve got accostomed to having no hair. Even my biggest fear of it upsetting Loli were dissipated in seconds when she took one look at me, asked what the thing on my head was and then with wide-eyed excitement started drawing and colouring on it. I know how often it’s said but the power and resiliance of children never fails to astound me.
I can also have more breaks from wearing it than I originally thought so I’m optimistic this will turn into just another new part of my life albeit with quiet a lot more strange and slightly concerned looks in public places..!
My other realisation this week after spending time with colleagues back in Northern Ireland where my last job was is just how much I need to get back to ‘normal’ life which includes going back in some capacity to work. Obviously I’ll have limitations but based on how I’ve felt physically and emotionally so far this is not just achievable but essential.
So whilst I know the road ahead still has so many hurdles to jump through this has yet again shown me that as well as allowing myself time to process and accept it, my crazy life can and will go on.