Results Day

 

What you enact in your head doesn’t always play out in real life.

The day finally came (Wednesday 17th January) when I had my appointment with the Oncologist to discuss my results and to determine treatment going forward. Part of me had been waiting for this appointment for so long but the other parts of me didn’t want this day to come as life as I knew it could completely change. The appointment was in the morning so Ste took the day off with me as support. Talking to him he was anxious and nervous about this as much as I was. I tried to look smart as I tend to do when I go to these sort of appointments and hospital generally. Someone once said to me if you look well you feel well.  Although I don’t think having your hair or eyelashes done can cure cancer just yet I think there is some truth to it (please seek medical advice from your doctor before planning on replacing chemo, radiotherapy or immunotherapy with a blue rinse or a perm).

When we got to the waiting room we checked in. Not surprisingly there was a wait. It turned out that the doctor I was seeing was running 1 1/2 hours behind. We had waited quite a few weeks for this appointment another 1 1/2 hours wasn’t going to make much difference. While I was in the waiting room I listened to some meditation music for healing and happiness and I shut my eyes. I definitely think this calmed me down and for those moments I wasn’t actually sat in that waiting room with the rest of the cancer patients and their nearest and dearest I was somewhere calm and neutral.

Most of the time sat in the waiting room there doesn’t seem to be any judgement or stress which you might normally find at the doctors or the hospital. I’m pretty sure that this is because there is this prior knowledge that everyone there is unfortunately there for the same thing. They all have cancer of some sort and are either waiting for treatment or waiting for medication or follow up appointments. One thing I do notice is that the general age of those in the waiting room is that of the older generation so it does make you wonder why cancer appears in the old? Is there something that an older body cannot fight or is it their lifestyle choices?

Today however there were two individuals that did seem so stand out more than the rest. These two were sat in the waiting room wearing a surgical mask. I’m pretty sure neither of them were surgeons as neither were wearing a gown and I’m not sure who was the patient out of the two. Either way I did think maybe someone should explain that cancer is not actually contagious and the bird flu epidemic is well and truly over.

We were finally called in to see the doctor (over 1 1/2 hours later). In my head I imagined this was going to be a pretty emotional meeting whether that be happy or sad tears. I had been concentrating on the tears of happiness and joy of the news in my head. I had to believe that the treatment and what I had been doing in terms of my lifestyle was enough. Was there a small doubt in my mind yes maybe, but every time it popped in my head I would try not to explore that further though like you do with most things.  We sat in the room and waited for the doctor to come in. This time it was the younger doctor whom had been really kind and helpful to me during my treatment and time spent in hospital and whom I had a good rapport with. There were another number of individuals that also entered the room. Some were trainee doctors one was the skin care nurse. It does sometimes worry you based on previous experiences when there is a mass of individuals entering the room that somethings not quite right.

Both me and Ste looked at each other and I could tell he was thinking exactly the same thing (why is there so many in the room, is the sh!t about to go down). Anyway, the doctor proceeded to talk, he commented on my hair and said I looked well (he did not say this was the new cure for cancer). He said it was good news and that the cancer had shrunk. He then asked if I had been feeling fit and well to which I said yes, I had been fine apart from this small lump that had appeared on my chest which was quite painful.

This lump appeared about three/four weeks ago. It is tiny but it’s right on my neck line near my necklace and the collar of items of clothing so it may just have been irritated by something. It’s got to a point though where it’s sore to touch and I have had a plaster on it for a while so I decided I couldn’t wait for this appointment and spoke to my doctor and the skin care nurse. I was now waiting for an appointment with the plastic surgeon to have a look. I think this slightly distracted the rest of the good news story as the doctor then went to speak to the senior oncologist. Anyway, it turns out I got an appointment to see the surgeon on that day and I’m now having the lump cut out on Tuesday under an outpatient appointment. They don’t think it’s cancerous as it isn’t blue and it’s painful and cancer normally isn’t. They just want to be sure and more for my comfort and to be honest what’s another couple of scars………….. they all tell a story.

After the appointment was arranged the doctor then proceeded to tell my good news story. My cancer has shrunk he said the one on my chest and near my heart which was 7cm had gone apart from a tiny bit near my heart which is less than a mm. The bit on my liver which was 5cm had now shrunk to 2.5cm. It was fantastic news I was really pleased. Did we jump up and down no, did we cry no. We just both sat there and said “that’s good”. It’s not that we weren’t please or amazed by how effective this treatment is. I think it’s just that you’re in a lot of shock and have sometimes prepared yourself to handle bad news so much so that we looked rather emotionless.

I also wanted to know the full picture and what that meant treatment wise. I was told that they wouldn’t want to give me anymore treatment as it could be extremely dangerous. In my head I sort of thought well I can handle this I’m fit and well now and if it gets rid of it completely I’m ready to take it on. The doctor tried to explain that this wasn’t an option and that I would have to be extremely poorly to have another dose of treatment.

Not long after the senior oncologist doctor came in she also said I looked really well. She reiterated some of the news he other doctor had and then said have I any questions. I tried to explain that it wasn’t that were not really pleased but I feel like I have another treatment in me and she said “why does that not surprise me”. She put it quite bluntly that if I had another treatment I would potentially die so why risk all that. See the doctors deal with patients all the time and more so the results so I suppose on a comparable scale myself and Ste have nothing to go off only our own experience. For the doctors they look at numerous of cases and to them this is a really good result to which I am eternally grateful for. They also said that in similar cases the treatment continued to work afterwards and are hopeful that mine will to. This is where I will be monitored on a 10 week basis from further scans to see again if the cancer has shrunk.

All in all, it was a great day and we were really pleased I think a couple of days later and it has sunk in even more how amazing the immunotherapy treatment is. For me to have a 7cm cancerous lump a few months ago to today having something less than a mm then it must be pretty amazing. Was I disappointed that I can’t have any more treatment? Yes, I am but I have to trust the opinion of the doctors and what they advise which I accept. They have got me to this point and helped so much whilst I was in hospital I have no doubt in my mind that they have my best interests at heart.

Now there is no treatment in terms of immunotherapy so it’s up to me to continue with all the other elements which I believe have attributed to this recent success including my diet, exercise, lifestyle, mindset, meditation and love and support from loving family and friends.

Myself and Ste drove home and I naturally put the kettle on (I love a good brew) and we discussed the day together. I then opened a card from one of my sisters in law (as above) it said ‘Tough Cookie’ which is something people seem to think I am (I’m not totally convinced I think most people would act the way I do in my situation). What I do know however that behind every tough cookie is a husband, children, parents, family and friends holding them up.

So, it was round 1 to me against cancer. I remember Ste telling me in the doctors’ room how proud he was of me. It was a great result but the battle wasn’t completely over. I need to continue the fight. Later that night I did what I do best I put these on carried on as normal and took the kids kickboxing.

 

The Fight – Round 1 = Rachel

 

2 Comments

  1. Jo
    24/01/2018 / 22:48

    Pow! Round 1 to you is a very good win!!! Very proud of you. Love jo xxx

  2. Mandy Jepson
    27/02/2018 / 21:30

    Keep punching hunny xxxx

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