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they didn’t really tell me a lot at the hospital yesterday, it was basically just an examination and check in – BUT – the registrar did tell me that thanks to a ‘smooth cervix’ he considered me to have No Active Disease. which is great news, obviously. it just feels weird still, because in truth, i still haven’t got a clue if we got rid of all of the cancer and i still won’t for another six weeks when i have the CT/PET scan. actually, make it seven, when they’ve looked at the results of the scan.

all in all it’s good news though. he could have said he was worried, he could have said i needed another scan urgently. but he didn’t, and I’ve got to take that and run with it.

do i feel positive again?

i think so.

will the next six weeks drag like hell?

definitely.

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So, Chemo day #1 appears to have gone okay. By okay I mean that other than a heck of a lot of waiting around – I arrived at The Christie at 8:15am and left at 8:30pm for what was essentially five minutes of radiotherapy at the very beginning, some blood tests and a chat with a nurse an hour in, and four hours of chemotherapy at the very end – I’m okay. I’ve been home and ate a decent tea, and have had what is ‘a good sleep’ for me at the moment, and I’m still alive and relatively un-traumatised by it, even with knowing the side effects I’ll get with it over the coming days.

Chemotherapy in style, The Christie, Manchester.

A rather unflattering angle of me taking in my Cisplatin at The Christie, Manchester, taken by my wonderful husband on his arrival.

That’s not to say I haven’t cried today. I spent the day at the hospital alone. Bad idea. My husband had had so much time off work recently so I figured he could just come after work, and my mum was in charge of getting our boy off to school and back, and instead of scaring her witless with a drive she’s not comfortable with I gave her the day off too. Hardly a day off looking after a small child I know, but you know what I mean, right? So I was all on my own all day. Not even a Macmillan nurse for me – though I’m pretty sure if I had thought to ring her she’d have spared a while for me. It didn’t hit me until the staff asked me if I had anyone with me, and were increasingly surprised as the day got on that I was there on my own. If they hadn’t kept on asking, who knows, I might have come out of Chemo day #1 completely unscathed emotionally. But I guess once I realised that it was commonplace – no, it was expected – that someone would be there that day, I suddenly regretted trying to be brave and trying to be all grown up. I felt like I’d been deserted, even though I had said to my mum and husband that I’d be fine to let them off the hook. And so I kept crying. Actually it was more like trying not to cry so that only a few tears escaped at a time and I was quiet and turned away, and I guess no one noticed so much as to ask me if I was okay. If they had, I’d have had an all round meltdown because by 4pm when I still hadn’t gone in for treatment I can safely say I was frazzled. I just wanted my husband there to hold my hand and tell me it was going to be fine and to get cups of water for me so I didn’t lose my seat (I’d been there long enough to get a comfy one). Like everyone else did.

By the time my husband got there there was only three quarters of an hour of my drip left. And I didn’t want to talk about the day anymore. I just wanted to go home to work out which of my four new tablet prescription I was supposed to take that night. And eat. And sleep! I don’t know how many times it crossed my mind that if I bought one of those big houses on Oak Road and turned it, essentially, into a sleeping house: a pound per person per bed in a hospital-clean setup with hospital mattresses and duvets and pillows for patients Waiting in between treatments across the road, it would probably pay for itself in a year.

I’ve kind of calmed myself down over it now but I think that feeling of loneliness is going to sit with me for a while. Self inflicted too, which is possibly worse. If I ever need to cry on cue I have perfect material now! It’s made me realise though that I need to start accepting these offers of help from friends. People who have offered their time will be getting text messages this week in anticipation of my next cycle. Because – and I’ll say this out loud to reaffirm it – I don’t WANT to and don’t HAVE to do this all by myself.

Yesterday was my first appointment at The Christie hospital.

I felt awful in the morning, and I didn’t want to get up, could barely get myself dressed, and wanted to curl up into a ball and stay there. The nausea I had was terrible, and the tablets they gave me at the hospital weren’t working too well. I managed to pull myself together enough to get ready and out into the car along with my husband, and my mum who had insisted on coming with us. Then I cried silently to myself pretty much all the way there. Part of it was self pity I guess, the other, the sickness driving me mad by this point. I also had this overwhelming feeling that this was it. This was the point where it would start to feel real. Because for the best part, I’ve been sitting there asking myself if this is really happening. Because after being told that I had Cancer, I didn’t feel any different. And I expected that I should feel different. And all I had felt was maybe a little numb; not anywhere near the hysterical woman I thought I’d be.

We got to the hospital on time, checked into our reception, and after a short wait were shown into a room where we waited for the Dr. One of the registrars came in to see us, and went through the history of this – I am so tired of going through the history of how long I have had the symptoms and how long I’ve been trying to get this seen to and how many times I’ve been in hospital and how I found out I have Cancer. I laid on the bed in there because I’d brought two supporters, not just the one normal people take with them, and there were only two chairs. And as I laid there, she assured me she would give me something to stop me feeling so sick all the time, she said she would give me something to top the bleeding, and she told me they were looking to ‘cure’ me. And that my treatments would be done by the end of the year. By the time she finished talking to me and I was waiting to be called in for the pre-treatment blood tests I felt a million times better. I still felt weak, and I still felt sick, but I could cope with it. I don’t know, I guess she gave me hope again. I guess I’d lost it somewhere between A&E and bed number 19.

I went home, and I managed to eat. And then in the afternoon we had to go back – just me and my husband this time, to go through my pre-radiation scan. I still felt better. I didn’t feel so sick any more. Even when I had to drink the aniseed flavour iodine solution I didn’t throw up. I signed the consent forms, got my three pinpoint tattoos, ready to start the radiotherapy treatments and got to go home again.

At home, the good feeling carried on. Sure, I went straight to bed until my dinner was ready, but I got up for food – a first in a while. I helped to set the table – something I haven’t been able to do for at least a month. And I managed to eat most of the stew my mum had brought round for me. I did really well, even if I do say so myself.

I’ve been the same today. I’ve been up and about equal to the time I’ve spent sleeping. I’ve been making sure I have enough to eat and have even been snacking on sweets in the house. I feel like I’ve turned a corner and that everything is going to be okay. If I can get up in the daytime and play with my son like I have today then my quality of life is a hundred times better than before I went into hospital last week where I stayed in bed twenty-three hours of the day. Better for me and better for my son, and better for my husband and better for my mum. I don’t know if it’s because I have the start date for my treatment now, or if it’s just the new medicine so I don’t feel sick. Or if it’s the knowledge that my doctor expects my Cancer to be gone by the New Year. The thought that I will eventually get my life back as opposed to it just being a waiting game. The fact that I have dates now in my diary are important to me. I can begin to plan things now. I have something to tell the people who are wishing me well and asking how I am doing. It just feels good to me. I have something to aim for.

And it feels good.

 

It’s been a day over three weeks since I was first told I had cancer, and I can safely say now, the worst part of this has been the waiting. It’s all I seem to have done for the last three weeks; wait for appointments, for the MRI scan, for the first week’s MDT, for a CT scan, for the second MDT, for the diagnosis, for blood transfusions, and to be told how my cancer is going to be tackled. And after being told I have a Cervical Adenocarcinoma of 6.8cm which is to be dealt with by means of chemo-radiation, I’m waiting on another appointment at the Christie in Manchester with the person who will be my doctor there; again, this isn’t to start treatment, it’s to discuss it. And all the while I’m here dying to get this thing out of me, dying to have it gone, dying to be able to get back to a normal life again.

Except I’m coming to realise that now I have cancer, my life will never be normal again.

At first, I thought I would be given a radical hysterectomy. Even though this came as a shock, I could deal with it. I could resign myself to losing my cervix, my uterus, my ovaries and pelvic lymph nodes. Because the cancer would be going with it. It would be one operation and then it would be gone. It wouldn’t be able to come back. And in a couple of months I’d be back to as near normal as possible, maybe back in work even. But because of the size of this thing, a hysterectomy isn’t an option anymore and I’m facing the hard slog now. I don’t get to do this quickly and quietly and privately anymore. Now I have to have chemo. I’m going to get sick. My hair is going to fall out and anyone who sees me over the next few months or however long this is going to take is going to know. All of my friends. All of my family. All of my neighbours. The teachers at school, the people I work with, the people at the supermarket. They’ll all know that I have cancer just by looking at me. It’s no longer a private battle. And it’s going to suck.