It hasn’t been easy since Bruce died. There, I said it. My horse died and I’ve been struggling. It’s taken me some time to admit I am only human after all. I seem to process things in hindsight. At the time I think I’m fine and then I realise it’s just me who believes that. Those I hold dear have held me close enough times to know how it works; I pretend I’m okay in the hope it’ll become reality. It doesn’t, and they’re there to catch me. Every time.
Things got more complicated than just Bruce because I don’t have a single life-shattering event, I have a series of them. Mark and I know by now to stay under the kitchen table until the world has stopped crashing. And then we come out with caution because snipers are more common than you think.
Shortly after Bruce died my routine CT scan showed the cancer meds had stopped being effective, and the cancerous lymph nodes in my abdomen had grown and multiplied. It sounds positively biblical. It’s tactfully called ‘progression’. I had higher hopes for this new Targeted Therapy I was on, but my cancer is a clever fellow and it only took him a year to figure out how to bypass blocked DNA. He’s got more adept at freeing himself from the ties of treatments as the years have passed. If it wasn’t cancer and it wasn’t inside me I’d applaud his brilliance. The thing he hasn’t quite twigged is if he kills me he kills himself, which is my rather black trump card. Unfortunately I won’t be around to say GOTCHA!
My inflammatory levels were running very high and I was on large dose of steroids to control them, which caused severe gastritis. The gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) was extremely painful and eating was difficult. My weight plummeted and the steroids stopped me sleeping; hungry and tired is a foolproof recipe for misery and along with the progression, it sent me into a spiral of OMG-I’M-GOING-TO-DIE. The fact everyone has heard it all before doesn’t make it any less real, to me at least. I looked gaunt and the bags under my eyes were more like portmanteaux than carry-ons. What I now know was referred pain from the lymph nodes pressing on my gut, caused constant pain in my back, sides and shoulders, and I wasn’t a happy bunny. It’s the first time my cancer has caused me actual physical pain, it’s usually caused by the surgery or treatments. I had to keep reminding myself that feeling shite is probably better than feeling dead, although at times it was a fine line between the two.
I had a consultation with the nice oncology Professor to explore treatment options including chemotherapy, and I’m afraid I swore at him. I keep forgetting I have limited treatment choices and I should be grateful there are still options. He said I could swear as much as I wanted, which just goes to show how nice he really is. A PET scan, a barrage of blood tests, and an endoscopic biopsy followed in quick succession before the Prof made his decision to start me on Fulvestrant injections combined with Palbociclib tablets. Neither are drugs I’ve used before so it will be interesting to see how their side effects compare with others. The injection is intra-muscular, which means a monthly jab into each buttock, and yes it is as painful as it sounds.
The culmination of everything has given me IBS. I look (and feel) like I have Winnie-the-Pooh’s big tummy, and to be blunt, the worst problem is gas. When it was trapped it was okay for everyone else but not for me, and now it’s liberated itself I’m more comfortable but others are suffering. This is one of the downsides of cancer they don’t tell you about.
I’ve spent two months at rock-bottom. I know Mark was worried sick about me and I was worried sick about me too. Last weekend, sometime between trying to fart quietly and pretending everything’s okay, I realised it actually is. Really and truly okay. This is as good as it gets. I trust the new drugs will work, my gut will recover its robust good humour and I’ll regain my strength and zeal for new projects. I’m back on track, just don’t walk behind me.