Symptoms: sore feet from chemo; mild wheeze
Pain level = 1
Feature emotion: Denial
I find myself in a strange place. On the one hand, I feel fine physically because the side effects of the chemo haven’t kicked in yet for this cycle, but it’s dealing with the symptoms. (I’ve not been writhing in agony on the bathroom floor, as in the previous cycle. Yet.) One the other hand, the latest body scans says that I’m not fine at all: the liver tumours have grown, and new ones have appeared on my pelvis. This has happened while the Caped Crusader is supposedly holding the fort, so now we don’t know what to think. Either CC isn’t working, or hasn’t yet had time to work properly. So we’re keeping an open – if rather pessimistic – mind. It’s just very weird to feel OK, aside from a new niggles, while getting pretty dreadful test results.
I’m having a lot of discussion with my oncologist about whether the liver tumours could be treated separately, and destroyed through various means. This is on the basis that they stand the greatest chance of killing me. He’s not keen, because there is so much disease elsewhere in my body, but I am nothing if not persistent. My view is that, if they’re not there, they can’t grow. He’s worried that interfering with them will result in a mushrooming of many more. I’ll let you know how that goes.
In the meantime, I’ve decided to try a new approach. Having run through all the stages of grief in the wrong order – Anger followed by Bargaining followed by Acceptance – I somehow missed out Denial. Careless of me, I realise. But it’s not too late. I’ve decided that my new line is, ‘I had cancer, it was bad, but I’m getting over it.’ Like the flu. The evidence for this is that the scalp lesions are melting away, which gives me some tangible proof for my claim. CC is definitely doing something.
But I also don’t feel ill, except for a stamina deficit and the a need for frequent naps. (Honestly, if I could have justified it, I’d have been a napper before now.)
We’ll see how effective my willpower is in changing reality. I do believe in the ability of thought to affect the immune system. People who outright refuse to believe that there’s anything wrong with them live longer than those who accept it in a grown-up way. My oncologist always says that the disease takes hold when people ‘stop trying’. Sticking my fingers in my ears and going ‘lalala’ may not be an approved survival strategy, but I’ve tried the others and they haven’t been successful so far.
However, I’m also hedging my bets. SM and I were due to take a dream trip to New Zealand in April. Following the last scan result, and a gloomy conversation with my oncologist, we’ve brought it forward to February. This is because, although there’s no doubting the power of Denial, I am a planner and planners always need to be prepared for the expected.
But for the moment, I’m enjoying my brief sojourn in Lala Land, the place where there’s no bad news and everything is getting better. I’ve just delivered a chunk of book three to the publishers, while writing a few opinion pieces for the press, and DECORATING THE CHRISTMAS TREE! This is in all caps because it’s the first tree ever for SM and me, and I’ve gone completely mad with the impulse to cover absolutely everything, including us and the cats, in holly and tinsel.
I really like Lala Land. I’d like to take up residence here. Please, CC, grant me this Christmas wish?