Perhaps it’s not the most tasteful of blog titles with it’s unsavoury connection to Gary Glitter but it just pops into my head today while we drive home from the hospital. As you might know from the Venice Chronicles, my breathing hasn’t been great and you possibly read of the trials of My Best Vein as well. Today is the turn of the oncologist. As usual, the clinic is running late so we sit and wait patiently, allowing the volunteer to bring Mr Mason cups of tea while he flicks through old copies of Heat! and Now! When a breast care nurse appears to take us to see not the registrar but the oncologist herself, my antennae are really twitching. When the first words are something akin to “Have you been informed about the treatment plan?” we know we are in deep waters. The CT scans shows that there are some nodules in my lung and the oncologist is surprised I am still feeling pain in my trachea when I eat toast or something scratchy. Even tablets feel as though they get stuck. She thinks perhaps a throat man should have a look. Anyway, the plan is to admit me to hospital and drain the fluid off my chest. I am feeling better than I did last week and think that perhaps the fluid has almost been reabsorbed. Off to x-ray with me then, in case there is nothing to drain. Mr Mason nips out to put yet more money in the ticket machine while I get x-rayed and then whizz up to the 5th floor to book an echocardiogram. The clerk is nice and manages to squeeze me in on Tuesday which means that chemotherapy can go ahead next week as planned. Back to clinic 8 to see the x-ray results which show there is double the amount of fluid in my lungs there was last week. This is puzzling as I feel so much better than I did last week. A final wait for blood to be taken and then we are free.
Taking in this big news is hard. We do not skip into the clinic thinking all will be sunshine and roses. Whatever the results of the CT scan, we know the fluid has to be drained off but this news is much, much bigger and has a nasty sting in the tail. Secondary cancer, for those of you who don’t know, can be managed but not cured. The treatment plan is for 6 to 8 doses of Herceptin, Perjeta and our old favourite, Docetaxel. If that dampens things down, I will go onto a maintenance dose of probably the first two drugs to keep things at bay. This throws lots of things into question. Moving, for one thing. It also means hair loss which, though relatively trivial, is just another thing to endure. So it’s back to painting nails a dark colour in an attempt to keep them, dealing with a runny nose as nasal hair is decimated and finding natty ways of tying scarves.
In an attempt to show bravado today, I go to the hospital wearing mascara and a pair of trousers with skull and crossbones on them. Obviously I have other clothes on too, but later on Mr Mason and I share a very dark joke about the inappropriateness of wearing such a garment to an appointment when you are told you have incurable cancer. So yes, the humour is alive and well and still flowing freely. We have been knocked by this news but tomorrow we’ll be up and fighting again. On the way home, we go to the supermarket and stock up on essentials like toilet paper and cake, the latter probably being more essential than the former at the moment. It’s clearly a time to hunker down and dig deep. Please feel free to insert your own favourite metaphor.
Normal service will be resumed shortly.