Saturday, 9 April 2016
People often say “I don’t know how you keep going....you are so brave.....” or you’re a real inspiration”. But I really don’t believe that is the case. I’m simply cracking on.
When you are diagnosed with cancer you go through a roller-coaster of emotion. At first the shock of the news is as you would expect, truly devastating. It’s like someone, somewhere turns out a light and you are surrounded by complete darkness and numb to the core. You have so many unanswered questions, pent up anger and frustration and that single question rings in your mind constantly; “Why me?”
Then, as the weeks slip by you become used to the reality that you have this thing inside you and things become a little easier. Your treatment path becomes apparent; there is a structured plan from the team treating you and you start to understand what lies ahead and can start to mentally prepare. With Psuedomyxoma the fact that it is so slow growing means that in many cases it can take weeks or even months for the plan to become clear, often after a number of CT scans and blood tests to measure how the disease is progressing.
So in that time between scans an appointments and treatment how do you carry on?
For me this is now the third time that I have found myself in this predicament. I guess as I have ridden the PMP roller-coaster twice beforehand I know what to expect. I/we have become very adept at compartmentalizing things and locking them away in a drawer at the back of our minds. But I do recognise that you have to be careful, it’s good to open this drawer from time to time and let out any pent up pressure that may subconsciously be building up inside. It’s dangerous to get complacent and kid yourself that everything is under control.
I also strongly believe that a positive mental approach is key to this battle. I like to keep myself as busy as possible and carry on living life as normally as can be expected. I have said before that work is my rock. I’m lucky that I enjoy my job. It keeps me very busy and it’s good to feel that I’m making a positive difference. It also keeps my mind occupied. Similarly, my weekends are always pretty busy. When you work five days a week those two days off are precious and fly by so quickly. For me the best feeling on a Monday morning is to return to work feeling like you have done something productive with your weekend.
I am also certain that keeping fit and healthy is also very important and prepares you and your body for the battle ahead. It’s also good for the mind and maintaining that positive mental attitude. Keeping the cardiovascular system in the best shape you possibly can and the body as strong as possible puts you in the best place possible to face any upcoming treatment or surgery.
My next CT scan is scheduled for 18th April at Basingstoke and North Hampshire hospital. Realistically even after the scan has been done I don’t expect to hear anything for at least a month. At our last meeting we were told that as well as the radiologist report having to be completed the team will want to discuss the results and decide what to do next?
I’m guessing it will go one of three ways. If the scan shows no change whatsoever then I fully expect to be told that for now we again do nothing and simply book in another CT scan for six months time. If the cancer has shown signs of growth then the second option will further surgery or possibly chemotherapy. Surgery could mean one of two procedures as I have previously posted, both of which are big surgeries. The third option is the one that all Pseudomyxoma sufferers’ dread; that no further surgical options are available.
So for now, as I say I have simply been cracking on and living life. It would be easy to feel sorry for myself and disappear down a big black hole but for me that’s simply not an option. So I have been continuing to work hard and do the things that I enjoy doing. I continue to go caving. Below is some footage to a recent trip into Swildons Hole on the Mendip Hills!
As my surgery on my back has put paid to my running I am now swimming twice a week instead and really starting to enjoy it. Tracey has kept me busy at the weekend and we have been re-modelling the front garden. She has been very patient as I have been threatening to do it for the last three years!
So I don’t think that I’m “brave” or an “inspiration”. I’m simply doing what every other cancer sufferer in the world is doing. The only thing we can do. Cracking on because we have no other option...