MarySmith’sPlace – Good news and sad news; Cancer diary #29

My tumour, and its radiotherapy treatment area. It’s shrinking.

Tuesday, 30 March: As you know I had a meeting yesterday with the oncologist to hear more about the scan result.

I was aware from the hospital’s discharge summary the tumour had shrunk but didn’t really understand all that implied, especially as the CT scan had been done earlier than it would have been. Usually, the scan would be carried out 12 weeks after the end of the radiotherapy but because I’d become ill it was done to determine the cause of my cough and breathlessness – done, therefore, before the radiation had stopped working.

Although, it’s not definitive and nothing is ever certain in cancer, the oncologist said she is pleased with what the scan shows, saying it is as positive a scan as she would hope to see.

When I had the PET scan done back in July, the tumour was 7.5cm. It continued to grow between then and when I began chemotherapy. Although I didn’t write down its measurements then, it was large enough to cause a partial collapse of the upper right lung.  Now, it is 3cm and the mediastinal lymph nodes have also reduced.

Other good news is that there’s no sign of metastatic lung disease or spread to other organs. Looking at the remaining lump in my lung she hopes it is all dead tissue but “it never goes away to nothing”. If they are all dead cells it will stay like that but there is a significant risk that there could still be some active cancer cells I’ve been told that tissue will remain which will contain the dead cells that over time could and would grow. No crystal ball to say if this will happen or when. As ever with cancer, there are no certainties.

I’ll have another scan in eight weeks when everything should have settled down. I know nothing is ever certain in cancer and I remember our short-lived jubilation when Sue’s tumours reduced from the size of doughnuts to walnuts but I’m cautiously optimistic about the result. That’s a pretty brave thing to say for the glass half empty kind of person I am!

I’m going to be on steroids for the next six weeks for the pneumonitis. Unfortunately, the cough and breathlessness are not much better but the oncologist thinks they will improve gradually as the inflammation in my lung subsides.

Absorbing all the information is quite difficult and I’m so glad we have the discussion recorded and can listen again. If I didn’t have the pneumonitis causing such debilitating breathlessness I’d be absolutely delighted with the results. I moan about how radiotherapy is the gift that keeps on giving in terms of horrendous side effucks – but it is also the gift which is smashing up the tumour in my lung.  

Other good news – my mammogram came back clear. Being recalled would probably have finished me off.  I’m booked for my second Covid vaccination on April 10.

And the oncologist says I can go ahead with my hair appointment on 23rd April – and should be able to hug my son soon after that.

For everyone (all of us) who loves to see lambs!

In the midst of yesterday’s good news, my friend Sue passed away yesterday. She was diagnosed a couple of weeks after I was. In fact, she had thrown her bag in her car to drive up to meet me the day she had her scan result. Her tumours were in her left lung, mine in my right – “a right pair of bloody bookends” was the description we both thought of at the same time. Since then, we kept each other company on this very strange odyssey, sharing much laughter, frustration, tears, anger and love. Sue reached the end of the journey before I did and it is going to be hard to carry on without her.

But, perhaps she will always be my side.

144 thoughts on “MarySmith’sPlace – Good news and sad news; Cancer diary #29

    • Thank you, Ali. It’s been a few days of mixed emotions, not easy to absorb. But, I’m hanging on to the news the tumour is shrinking – and I should be able to hug David b the end of this month.

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  1. I have been offline for a few days, Mary, and am only now catching up. Though I read the caution in your words, I am so glad your report is good and cross fingers for your continued improvement Even when we knew and expected the news about Sue, the sadness that the world has lost such a lovely person is still great. Even so, I’m guessing that the friendship you shared, and that last get together with her and Barb, will carry on giving you great memories – and such strength that, whatever effucks this blasted disease throws at you, you will beat it. A big hug from Wales.

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    • Thanks, Judith, I am a naturally cautious person (glass half empty) so although the news about the tumour shrinking is good I’m not taking anything for granted. Sue’s tumours shrank after her chemo but…
      I will miss Sue enormously but I know I am far from alone in mourning her passing – she will be missed by so many people who were touched by her. Together, we’ll keep her alive in our memories.
      A hug back from Scotland – a sunny Scotland 🙂

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  2. I’m so pleased to hear the good news about the tumour shrinking, Mary. And it’s great to hear that your 2nd Covid vaccine is booked; hair appointment is still on, but, best of all, you’ll be able to hug your son again soon. I can’t wait for the hugs to come back.

    Such sad news about Sue. Even though I knew it was coming, when I read the post from Stuart, it still came as a big shock and knocked me out of sync for a few days.

    Wishing you a lovely Easter. And as Judith said, hugs from Wales.

    xx

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    • I don’t think we are ever ready for the news of someone’s passing, no matter how prepared we believed ourselves to be. I think shock waves are still reverberating around the blogosphere. But I know Sue would have been one of the first to cheer me on and be happy about the good news about my shrinking tumour (I always think there must be a film called The Incredible Shrinking Tumour).
      I’m hanging on to the various positives in my life right now – not least the thought of hugging my son by the end of the month. I sent Judith hugs back from a sunny Scotland so am sending you the same. Happy Easter. xx

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  3. Hearing the words “it is as positive a scan as she would hope to see” is pretty awesome news Mary. Congratulations. It’s true that we don’t always know what might lay ahead, but it’s a big win for today. Yay! I also think it’s brilliant to record a meeting. Our hospital/doctors don’t do that – it’s so smart! I am so very sorry to hear about your friend Sue. I wasn’t aware of her blog or cancer struggle until recently. But it is very, very clear how well-loved she was and the impact of her presence on the blogosphere. Best wishes to you and thank you for more lambs. 🙂

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    • I’m still trying to absorb what the oncologist said but It is excellent news to hang on to for now. We just record the conversation on the DH’s phone. The doctor is happy for us to do so as she understands it’s not easy to take in everything that is discussed. It’s quite amazing how much we misremember or hear differently so it’s very useful.
      By some strange coincidence, Sue was diagnosed just a couple of weeks after I was. She will be missed by a great many people.
      I’ll be on the lookout for more lambs 🙂

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  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Thursday 1st April 2021 -#Family Linda Lee Greene, #CancerDiary Mary Smith, #Review Olga Nunez Miret | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  5. Oh Mary, I’m so happy to hear about some good news. I’m just sick about Sue and as you know, nursing my own very palliative husband. I’m so sick and tired of this dreaded disease. The two evils in life the two c’s Covid and cancer. I wish you continued healing in your difficult journey. ❤

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    • Thank you, Debby. It was lovely to be able to share some good news even though it came along with the sad news about Sue.
      I was so, so sorry to hear about your husband but am glad you have him at home. I know what you mean about the two evils and cancer in the time of Covid is even more of a nightmare than it would anyway be. My thoughts are with you and your husband, Debby. xx

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  6. Mary, you have been brave throughout this and it’s such good news after the scan and I think you can most definitely be cautiously optimistic ‘. I hope the cough and breathlessness improve in the coming days. I was deeply saddened to read about Sue; you both had a most extraordinary bond and glad you could be there for each other. hugs xx ❤️

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    • The breathlessness does seem to be lessening, Annika, and so the cough is easing, too. Yesterday was a good day and I probably did too much so have been more tired again today. I’ll learn! It has been lovely to sit in the garden in the sun during the last couple of days.
      I will miss Sue such a lot. It still doesn’t seem real that she has gone, that there won’t be an email from her in my inbox in the morning. Hugs xx

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  7. It is great to hear you are doing so well, Mary, the news gives me feeling of spring. It is sad to hear of Sue, very hard to believe ~ although never having met her (or you), there is such respect. Wishing you continued optimism and sunshine.

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