Sometimes bad shit happens

Sorry, I’ve been slacking on the blog posts of late. You’re probably wondering what’s been going on! Well, in all honestly I can say not a lot. And its good!
And I apologise too for the title of this post. It is the only title I could think of where it put my point across well. If you didn’t realise it already then my language is occasionally fruity but it’s honest.

I did manage to finally go away. I took a break to Switzerland for a few days. It’s nice to finally have a plan that sticks!

Today is a pretty important day for me. It’s scan day. I’ll have my CT scan with contrast to see what’s left… Or worst case, if there’s more. I’m not really thinking about it to be honest. It’s like Pandora’s box if I flip that lid. I’ll get round to the worry and sleepless nights on the lead up to results day. There’s a word in the cancer community that I hear a fair bit.

Scanxiety.

I fucking hate that word.

The anxiety of a scan.

It can be a range of things. Anxiety of the scan itself, the preparation of it or just the results. If you’re going through this yourself you’re guaranteed to experience scanxiety at some point. You’re a bloody tough nut if you don’t!

For me, the scan, the needles, the waiting, it’s fine. It’s a process. I can quite easily shut my emotions off for this part and just go with it. There’s nothing more I can do so I just kick back and let the medical staff do their work. I’m just another number in their day, and that’s the sad part. How many people they see each day doing pretty much the same thing.

You know, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from all this its how to get a good game face. And I don’t mean for the treatment itself or the cancer. Some days you do have to fake it to get by but I don’t mean that.

I’m different these days. Aside from the obvious why I’m different… I mean it in ordinary scenarios in life. And I find that fucking annoying.

But people don’t realise I’m different because I still act the same, unless I talk to them about it. It’s all about my game face. I act the same but inside my world is crumbling.

You’re probably thinking that these scenarios are extreme or that maybe I should avoid putting myself in these situations. That’s probably what I would have said before this because I wouldn’t have understood. But I can’t. Sometimes they just creep up on you like “ah ah ah! Don’t get too comfortable with life! I’m just lurking round the corner to screw your life up again!”

A lot of my internal freak outs are to do with family and death. I know… Morbid.

I’ve always been rational but now I’m thinking of situations where something bad is going to happen or if its a real internal meltdown someone’s going to die.

You’re probably worried about my mental health right now. Honestly it’s fine. I talk about this to my close ones. They know about my lockdowns. They probably don’t realise how often I have to do it but they can’t hold my hand all the time. As I said… It’s a process and something I have to deal with in my new life. I don’t need a therapist as much as you may disagree with me.

It just pisses me off that I’m now thinking of shit I’ve never had to think of before. I could probably resolve this a lot quicker by going and talking to my doctor but I don’t need another pill to pop. It’s intruding my life but it’s not stopping me from living it.

It’s crazy how your mind can fuck you up at times… I actually thought as I stepped on that plane to Switzerland: this plane is going to crash. Not: finally, I’m going on holiday! I’ve never been worried of crashing planes before. That pisses me off. It tarnishes all exciting experiences for me now. I hope one day to get to a comfortable place where disaster is not the first thing I think of.

I guess my worries are because I’ve had cancer doesn’t mean that I’m immune to other bad situations occurring. Bad things happen in life and there is shit I can do to stop it.

Fucking scanxiety… Yeah that’s not all I’ve got!

A few from Switzerland 🇨🇭✌💜

Not cancerous enough

It’s been a week of mixed emotions this week. So I received my phone call from my consultant for the next plan of action and I can’t say I was best pleased with the plan.
And strangely enough I surprise myself by saying this.

So the right lung where the bigger tumor is will be treated with radiotherapy. This will begin this week and I’ll have 12 sessions. 12 sessions seem like a piece of cake after my 36 sessions last year!

And the left lung? Well they’re just going to leave it.

Apparently chemo has worked too well. I’ve been told I shouldn’t have improved so much between the scan after chemo 3 and the scan after chemo 6. They generally don’t see any difference between the 2 scans so to find it’s shrunk again means I don’t fit into the normal cancer category… Again.

So basically the left lung doesn’t show a distinctive enough tumor. Which is great! Hooray! I’ve kinda beat cancer!

But because the left side is so small they can’t really target it with radiotherapy… So now it’s too small.

They’ve decided to just leave it to see what happens.

Hence why my mixed emotions. I’ve been conditioned so much through treatment that treatment is good, treatment is important that it seems impossible for me to see this in a good way.

I feel like they’re leaving me to walk this dangerous tightrope of life and cancer. I mean the growths to the lungs occurred within 3 months then doubled in size within a month. This is a serious cancer they are dealing with. This is my life!

I trust my consultant and the work she’s done for me but I couldn’t help but cry when she told me that she’s not going to treat the left side. And never in a million years did I think I’d be crying over the thought of not having treatment!! Maybe I shouldn’t have bitched so much about chemo! It obviously worked too well!!

The happy pessimist

I got some good news for once this week. Chemo is working! My scan from last week has shown an excellent response. The chemo has reduced the size of the tumors and one is barely visible. With this news it will mean that I will continue with the rest of my planned chemotherapy treatments.

I should be happy, right?

And I’m pleased. I am. But I can’t exactly say I’m over the moon, bouncing from room to room, can’t stop smiling happy. And why you ask?

Because this isn’t the end.

Yes, it’s a good result. But how long for?

I told you last time, after the devastating results from my 3 month post treatment scan it’ll shit on any other happy news in the future. And it really has.

I’m pleased. I am. And I’m happy for my family and friends that they’re finally hearing something good… But it is definitely shadowed by the fact that this isn’t it. Even if it clears up after all of the chemotherapy and whatever treatment follows after, it won’t be the end.

It will most likely come back. It might not be straight away. It could be 5 months, a year, 5 years, 10 years or more but it will at some point return.

Until they figure out a way to completely eradicate it from my lymph or blood… Wherever it is travelling from, its not over.

I’m OK with this. I’d rather it wasn’t this way but I’ve accepted my fate in life. I’m still positive about my diagnosis. Don’t misconceive what I am saying. Just because the news before shat on every other bit of goodness now or in the future, I am still positive about my treatment. I feel good in myself and I won’t let that stop me from living how I want to live.

Its just… I don’t know… The big fat elephant in the room that’s staring me in the face is still there. So I’m happy but I feel like I can’t truly be 100% happy because before I know it the rug will be pulled from beneath my feet again and I’ll be back to square one. And it’ll crush me.

But worst of all, it’ll crush the people I love.

I hate that this now makes me look at the other side of life. The more pessimistic side… That’s not me. But I have no choice. I have to be realistic.

So this week I am happy. But probably not as happy as I would have been this time last year had I received good news. Because although I am happy, any big fat sunny happiness I have now gets shadowed by the dark and ugly side of cancer. And forever will be no matter how small it may become in the future years… It’ll always be there in the background waiting to pop back up and ruin everything all over again.

On another note, apparently I have shingles! 🙄 I’m an anomaly again as I don’t have the “normal” symptoms. Just a rash on my back, other than that I feel pretty normal… Considering.

It shouldn’t interfere with my chemo on Friday thank goodness but bloody hell… Can’t catch a break at the minute! 😂

19 Days and counting…

It’s strange, I don’t really have anything interesting going on this week. Mum’s gone back to work now that I can function better and actually look after myself. Haha. It’s great, because it means our life is returning to some sort of semblance… but it’s not quite there yet.

I’m still waiting. That dreaded awful waiting. I can’t really do anything until I know what will happen. It’s like the big fat elephant in the room. I’m trying to give my life a bit more of a routine so I won’t end up a lazy slob addicted to daytime TV. I’m trying to exercise in the day and give myself a bit of a better diet. I don’t eat bad as it is but the last load of antibiotics they put me on has really knocked me for six and I need to find my balance within myself again. The trouble is as soon as I’ve distracted myself with some sort of task that elephant is back there staring me in the face. It’s funny, looking at me now you could pass me in the street and you wouldn’t even know anything is wrong. I’ve done a complete 180 and I would say I’ve returned to health like before all this happened. I try to look back and find where it all went wrong… December was definitely a write off and November was a bit icky but I wouldn’t have said I was bad then. I guess it all started to go wrong in October… Or well obviously go wrong looking at it now.

I’ve never been much of a complainer when it comes to life. I always try to see the positive things and I’m pretty sure in my whole working career, from the age of 16, I’ve only ever taken one sick day… I know right, one! And even then I remember phoning up work worrying that I didn’t sound sick enough. I guess on that side of things I’m a bit of a goody two shoes. There has been many a time where I’ve gone out the night before a shift, partied hard but still rocked up to work wearing last nights make up, having only had 3 hours sleep, if that, hanging out of my arse bitching about why I didn’t pull a sickie. But I always managed to get myself to work and… semi function. Even if I felt rough as hell I saw it as my own fault. I did this to myself so I have to carry on. Now, my hardcore party days are pretty much behind me, they’re few and far between so I’d say I’m probably more of an all-day-catch-up-with-friends-drinker now than a go-wild-until-the-sun-comes-up-party-animal.

I don’t want to live my life stuck in a rut. Finding that I’m working to live and never going anywhere. I said when I was going through treatment that I’m gonna make the most of this summer. If I want to go to the coast. I’d go. I’ll see friends up north, down south, wherever they are I’m going, and I’ll do what I want without the restrictions. But in reality, is that even possible? I have to work if I want to go and do these things. I want what everyone says they want, full-time pay with part-time hours. Its just never enough. You want more and more and more. But I’m gonna try. I’m gonna try and not let my life become too predictable. I’m gonna try and go and do all the things I want. I’m gonna try and find that job that has a full-time wage with part-time hours. Haha.

Me and my sister have made this plan to travel a bit next year. For years we’ve kept saying we’re gonna go here, we’re gonna go there and life just got in the way and we never organised it. So when all this cancer crap kicked off that’s the first thing we said. We’re gonna do it. If cancer isn’t a good enough opportunity then when is?! So when I was going daily to my bloody radiotherapy appointments that’s what I focused on. “This time next year I’ll be here…” “This time next year I’ll be there…” It started to become a bit of a mantra for me. Because life was moving on for everyone around me and you try not to resent it but it’s hard.

We’re gonna try and get flights out of the country for the end of the year. That’s when the shit hit the fan and life really flipped on its axis. So we thought it would be quite fitting to be going out and around a different country a year to the day since my diagnosis, a year to the day that chemo started, a year to the day radiotherapy started and so on. Trouble is, this whole waiting again has put this on hold. I can’t book my flights yet. What if I end up having treatment again?

Ergh… This is just so annoying now.

I hate this.

I hate it.

Its driving me crazy that I am semi normal again but I can’t do anything! I’m fidgeting. Which is a good thing when you think about it because it must mean I’m recovering well. When I was poorly it was hard to keep focus on anything. I’d just sleep the majority of the time but now I’m bored! I can’t direct my life back on track if I don’t know what is ahead of me.

People keep saying to me that they think these latest results is just an infection. Which is really sweet and I’m grateful for their positive thinking and kind wishes but I can’t think like that. I think its cancer. At least that way I can’t be disappointed if they tell me it is. I’d have already prepared myself. If I start thinking it’s an infection now then it will kill me to know     (…Can I say that? “Kill me to know”? Screw it I’m gonna say it) that I’ve still got cancer.

13 days until my next scan

19 day until I know what my next step in life will be

Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive!

As I write this post I’ve just had my 3 month post chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy PET/CT scan. Basically the scan that’ll tell me if I’ve kicked cancers big fat hairy butt!
And for the whole day I’ve been pretty chuffed that I can sing Imagine Dragons song Radioactive at the top of my voice and know that it’s true! Well you gotta look at the good side to all this!

I can’t help but feel that this PET/CT scan holds my life in it’s hands more than ever. There’s nothing I can do about the results. What will be will be. I don’t feel like I have cancer anymore but you can never really know. It’ll be a hell of a lot more devastating for me, my family and friends if the results come back that I’m not clear of it. All because I do feel pretty normal again.

Back in January, just 5 lowly months ago, was when I had my first PET/CT scan. It’s hard to believe I’m the same person today. At 5’11” I was 8 1/2 stone, which is just under 54kg. Massively underweight for my height. I was in hospital, not yet fully knowing what I was dealing with… But I’m pretty sure my family did! The sneaky buggers didn’t tell me I was already in a cancer hospital! Haha. Hey, I told you. Before all this I was completely oblivious to cancer! I knew where I was I just didn’t realise it was a cancer hospital.

The PET/CT Scan

So with a PET/CT scan they inject you with some radioactive stuff that goes all round your body and highlights the cancer and any other suspect areas that it may have gone to.

January’s results showed how extensive the cancer was… A 10cm mass and that it was becoming a little bit suspect around my lymph nodes in my stomach region… I wanna call them my illiac nodes? As I said I’m not a doctor but I think that’s what it was.

At this point, although it’s scary knowing how big the cancer is I didn’t care. I was in pain, sleeping most of the day away and barely eating. When you’re in that much discomfort you really don’t care what title it is you’re dealing with. You just wanna feel better. And yeah I had cancer but I always looked at it like it’s cancer, it’s not cancer cancer.

I see cancer adverts these days where they’re telling the actor on screen and they’re devastated. They portray how isolated they feel and how life changing it is and yeah… I can kind of get where they’re coming from but for me, it was never like that. Life goes on.

You don’t want to look so broken to your family all the time. They’re dealing with this as much as you and in a way you could say it’s worse for them. They can’t do anything to help. I slept most of the day away and was in a pretty high drug induced bubble of codeine, oramorph and paracetamol.

How I found out I had cancer

Do you wanna know how I first found out I had cancer? I find it funny but I know my family don’t. They were pretty pissed. Haha.

I had this cancer nurse come round early one morning and gave me a “how to deal with being diagnosed with cancer” leaflet. Turns out this nurse was gonna be my “cancer nurse” I couldn’t stand her… She just wasn’t very good at empathy but tried her hardest, only it turned out being a bit annoying. No… I don’t want to talk about how I’m feeling to you. But thanks.

I just remember getting this leaflet before the doctors had told me and thinking “oh fuck, it is cancer then”. I made a laugh and a joke about it to my mum when she came in but I can tell you she wasn’t best pleased this happened without her there for support and before I had an actual diagnosis!

So yes, today I’m singing radioactive as loud as I can enjoying the fact that it is very relevant to me and revelling in the irony that is my life!