I had this really great plan. Visit Harley Street on Tuesday where I’d learn results of Endopredict test (the “do I really, really need chemotherapy?” test), see oncologist on Wednesday to discuss results (in my head I’m fully prepared to have chemotherapy), sign consent forms, have bloods taken. Then on Thursday buy fresh food for a week, do housework, change bedding, get my chemo kits ready. Friday (i.e. right now!) have first chemotherapy session. I had an army of friends and family lined up to go to hospital with me, visit me, feed me, and be generally positive and amazing around me as I found out just how I’d react to chemotherapy. Like the good Girl Guide I once was, “Be Prepared”.
Well, scrap all of that. The bloody test result is late coming back. Oh, how I laughed.
So, the new plan is to do all of this instead next week, with chemo starting, if needed, one day next week. I’m checking my phone for news from Harley Street like I’m waiting to see if a hot date is going to text me back.
The waiting, the ambiguity, the not knowing, the limbo. The hardest part of this cancer trip. It takes such emotional energy to get to a good place and stay in a good place. These curveballs can be exhausting and demoralising.
Some days just staying in bed seems like a good idea. But when you have a cat that jumps on your head or full bladder at 5am most days, you’re compelled to get up. I also remember the words from a speech by an Admiral, in which he talks about the importance of making your bed everyday. This clip is less than two minutes, but I find it inspiring. It’s not just about making your bed, it’s the belief that the effort to do little things can make your world a better a place.
My oncologist was great when we talked about the delayed test results. I really like her, she is firm and straightforward with me, and I shared all my concerns with her, such as “I have this vision of all these little cancer cells in my body having a party because we’re not blasting them!”. She reminded me why I had this test, and that many patients are currently over treated with chemotherapy because such tests are not available to all. And most reassuring of all, she’s not concerned by the delay, so long as we start chemotherapy next week if it is needed.
She also reminded me that as my cancer is so highly oestrogen receptive, taking Tamoxifen will be one of the most important parts of my treatment. Project Lumpy involves surgery, radiotherapy, Tamoxifen and maybe chemotherapy. Plus some lifestyle tweaks for me – that’ll be a later blog post.
Take a breathe Alison, this is all under control.
Mind and Body
I completed the Living Well With Cancer course, and also went on a one day Words As Therapy course. The latter was provided by Macmillan – another amazing freebie. I have now met dozens of people with cancer and it’s been wonderful, but also tough. This pesky disease is isolating, but when you meet other cancer patients there is a real sense of being in the same gang. Just saying you have cancer makes you immediately vulnerable, and other cancer patients get that and it’s ok. I also feel strangely guilty when I meet other cancer patients who have a more challenging diagnosis than mine.
Then another amazing freebie. A yoga class for people with cancer was recommended to me. Off I go, in my Sweaty Betty gym kit, yoga mat under arm. It’s in a church hall, no signs on the doors, so I ask the group of elderly people sat in one of the rooms where the yoga is. Ah, this is it, welcome! Oh. My. Goodness. And there began my first ever seated yoga class. I felt like I’d been dropped in to an episode of The Real Marigold Hotel.
It was actually a very gentle, meditative class and the teacher was super. Just not quite what I was looking for.
Cycling is my favourite way to keep fit and I’ve been doing nowhere near my usual mileage and feeling a bit down about it. So last weekend I though, sod it, I need the Surrey Hills and a bloody good hill climb! The North Downs are stunningly beautiful, with tough climbs and fast descents. It was amazing. I also love the camaraderie on the sportives I do. I stopped to eat a flapjack at the top of one hill, and a chap cycled past me saying “thank God you stopped, I’ve been trying to catch you for the last 20 minutes!”
And I got a silver time award – I usually get bronze.
The photo below is last year’s haul of medals. If I have chemo my cycling will be limited, but I’m determined to get some more medals this year.
In preparation for chemotherapy I have also filled my freezer with healthy, homemade food. I spent two days cooking and can now hardly close the freezer door. Just hope I like that soup, there are eight portions of it…..