It’s a waiting game this cancer; waiting for the next scan, the next results, waiting to see how the next round of treatment makes me feel, waiting to see what the next hurdle is that lands me in A&E (no doubt at a weekend, it’s always at the weekend!) And waiting is hard, especially when I am trying my best to live every day to its full. The waiting and not knowing are such a challenge. Of course, no one knows what’s round the corner for them. We’re all ‘terminal’ at some point. But I think it’s fair to say that generally there is an expectation of when the end may come.
When you have grown to adulthood, watched children be born and themselves grown to adulthood; become the third or perhaps the fourth generation. When you’ve been to school, had a career then retired. When you’ve seen the world around you change; fashions, trends, technology. When you’ve seen yourself change; hair turning grey, wrinkles appearing, bodies sagging comfortably into old age. It’s hard, knowing that that expectation of how life will go is almost certainly not the reality for you. Of course I hold out hope. Hope that these drugs will keep me stable for a while. Perhaps long enough for a new treatment to be found that keeps me going a bit longer, and then another one that keeps me a bit longer still. But it’s pretty exhausting thinking like that at times, always waiting for that next step.
And medically, things haven’t been good for me recently. My latest treatment is pretty brutal on the side effects, making me nauseous, exhausted, lowering my mood. Perhaps it’s the drugs, perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve now done 16 rounds of chemo and my body is feeling worn down. And on top of that, the tumours (lungs and liver) grew pretty aggressively in the month I was off chemo for my heart problems, and it turns out the cancer is in the tissue around my heart as well. Learning that opened up a whole new world of questions. It’s not visible on the CT scans I have regularly as isn’t a solid lump of a tumour, just cancer cells infiltrating the membrane, wheedling their way in somewhere else. Where else is it lying hidden? What surprises does it have in store for me next? I can only wait and see.
So while I wait, I’ll do my best to be happy, to see the positive in every day. Most of the time I manage that. But sometimes I can’t. The chemo side effects and the general exhaustion, physically and mentally that this disease exerts are all just too much at times. But it’s okay not to always be okay. I just need to be kind to myself, to remember the bad days will pass, and even if I’m always waiting, wonderful things can still happen along the way.