February scan. Results on March 5th, 2018. We drove to meet my oncologist to hear the news. It’s a fair way, round the M25, which is never great in rush hour. After 10 minutes of reading the out of date Hello magazine we were told she was ill and not coming to work. Can you imagine?
This is unbearable.
My life now operates on 3-month cycles, everything I do psychologically is geared up for the chemo, the scan, the result, the next plan. As I approach the scan the anxiety levels increase.
The timing between scan and result is crucial. It has to be known, it has to be solid, any deviation from the plan is heart attack material. The mind is a powerful and mischievous thing – and my God does it like to play with me at scan time.
So, a sick oncologist was not cool at this point!
We left. We rang various secretaries and managed to get an appointment later in London to see the radiologist. He is the person that interprets the scan for the surgeon and oncologist. He is very important. We had met him previously and he was very professional. We met him on this day. It was different. I now know why the oncologist should give scan news. My oncologist had some training on this. I’m not sure the radiologist had the training!
I walked out of there with one thing going around and round in my head “go home and get your affairs in order”. I’d gone from cured to incurable in fifteen minutes. The cancer in the lungs was back. 19 nodules of various sizes. Incurable. Fuck.
My oncologist called the next day, same prognosis, slightly better delivery. “it’s not months, it’s years” What does that mean for fucks sake? How many exactly? 2 or 10? “I hope to be talking to you in two years” Bloody marvellous.
I cannot begin to explain what this news does to a person. It is impossible to comprehend. The human brain just cannot fathom the magnitude of dealing with one’s own mortality, at least not for some time, and even then I’m not sure we ever really accept it. Everything you are, have been, believe in, love, and care for is going to end. Sooner than you imagined. Sure, we all know we’re going to die at some point, but when it’s at your door, when you’re just 50, it’s a living nightmare.
What do you say to the boys you love so dearly? Every instinct you have is to protect them, you spend your whole life trying to shield them from bad stuff. How do I cope with the possibility of not seeing them graduate, fall in love, get married, have their own children?
I can’t speak for everyone, but I tried to get busy, get reading, trying to generate some form of positivity. How do you escape, even for a moment? I think this is why I do as much as I can – it’s like I’m constantly striving for something to enjoy. Most people book a holiday and have it to look forward to. For me a movie on TV, a nice meal, a golf lesson. Anything. Mustering every ounce, I had to somehow find a way to see through the darkness, to find some light at the end of a very long and treacherous tunnel. I created a plan, set some goals, I guess I just found some comfort in doing what have done in my entire working life.
A lot of what I’ve been doing you can find here
It was at this point I found The Mulberry Centre. www.themulberrycentre.co.uk They were unbelievable, picking me up off the floor and showing me the first steps on the journey of coping. “Look at the clock. It is ten past two on Thursday and right now you are ok. You look fine, you feel fine, life is ok”
A quick lesson on the importance of living in the present.