Monday, October 26: I had a week of feeling really well (yay) alongside a week of worrying about the scan result and meeting with the oncologist today (not so yay).
I won’t keep you in suspense – like the oncologist did me by first asking lots of questions about how I’d been after the cycles of chemo and carrying out an examination before finally telling me. The scan results show the tumour is stable. While it has not shrunk it hasn’t grown any – not one of the many scenarios running through my head last night as I tried to get to sleep. Nothing has spread to any of my other organs.
The oncologist seems quite upbeat about this result although I can’t help feeling disappointed. I’d so hoped the tumour would have started to shrink, even if just a tiny bit. She’s recommending I go ahead with the next two rounds of chemo followed by another scan. If things are as she hopes then four weeks of radiotherapy would follow.
The radiotherapy doesn’t sound fun. I know they have to spell out all the possible side effects and no everyone gets them all or not as severely but – apart from tiredness (she says even more than after chemo) I’ll have a sore throat and may need morphine for the pain – or, worst case scenario, a feeding tube – and the scarring on the lung may leave me breathless on exertion.
This, if all goes well, could give me an extra couple of years (she did say “or longer”, but I’m afraid to be too optimistic) of relatively normal healthy life. Presumably until it all kicks off again as it must if they can’t eliminate the tumour entirely.
I’ve said I’ll keep going. The alternative is a few months and I would like a bit longer – there’s a book to finish writing, Cairn Holy to visit with Sue, and the Callanish Stones, a trip back to Islay where I was born, maybe even a holiday somewhere sunny. Seeing family would be rather nice – this self-isolation business is the pits. Of course, being able to do most of these is dependent on bloody, bloody Covid.
When I went into the first meeting with the oncologist I knew I had a seriously life-shortening illness and suspected I had months rather than years before me. I’d sort of come to terms with that. I was expecting to hear more about palliative care rather than treatment options. Dying doesn’t frighten me (though I’d prefer it to be painless). The oncologist gave me hope I could have more than a few months and I left the meeting feeling optimistic. This time it’s harder to be as optimistic – all because the tumour hasn’t actually got any smaller.
The next cycle is on Friday – if the blood results are all right. I think this constant wondering and worrying, having tests and waiting for results is one of the biggest downers.
Still, looking on the bright side, the oncologist did not say (my main worry) there is no point on carrying on. I can feel a degree of satisfaction the chemo has at least stopped the tumour in its tracks. Two more cycles might finally make it start to shrink.
There, now, I’ve talked myself round from feeling pretty down when I started writing this to edging towards feeling a bit more positive.