Today I have been given my life back!

So here I am facing the consultant who gave me the cancer diagnosis and stamped a ‘best before’ date on me nearly a year ago.  The same room, the same place.  My Mum, Dad, brother and Jenny holding hands and breath.

And the news is I am in remission!  But my goodness didn’t he make me work for it!

“Hello, how are you feeling?”

“Great… I hope, just need to hear the results please”

“Oh, you had a CT Scan did you? When was that?  How odd, my secretary didn’t warn me…”.

Lots of rustling around on the desk and frantic logging in on the computer. “Let me get the scan results up now”. 

Oh dear no, surely not.  Where are the hidden cameras? We are going to have to do this live, anxiously watching every twitch on my consultant’s face as he reads the scan results out aloud for the first time in front of us. 

After what seemed like an eternity discussing my bowel and liver surgeries and the fact that I had (unbeknown to me) another 1cm cyst on my liver which he ‘presumes’ my liver surgeon knew about and was therefore not cancer….he said “Yes this looks fine, you are NED (no evidence of disease) or NSR (no sign of recurrence)!” And for extra emphasis “considering where we were a year ago and how aggressive it was, it’s amazing we have got rid of it”.

I could kiss him.  He was grinning and said I looked really healthy. And believe me this is a very good sign from Mr H who doesn’t give good news lightly.

Joseph said this day was the best of his life and he hasn’t stopped hugging me.  Lois has been very thoughtful and reflective and admitted to crying on the school bus today with nerves.  I doubt I will ever know how deep this last year has affected them.

Today I have my life given back to me and I am deeply happy and thankful. 

Thankful to my 2 consultants and oncologist and the docs and nurses who have nursed me back to health.  Thankful to my Mum and Dad and brother who have loved me back to life.  And thankful to my dearest friends and close family who never gave up hope and have been by my side every day.  Especially Jenny who has been one in a million throughout these last 10 months and kept me sane with nonsense all day. And thankful to God for answering my prayers.

Now all I need to do is get this chemo out my system and start to feel normal again.  Mr H said to expect this to take about 2 months.  Last chemo tablets taken tonight and the rest of the bag of tablets chucked in the bin, replaced by a diet of Champagne! At least for this week. x

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Scanxiety and a lesson in distraction

Today was the day I faced the emotional roulette wheel that is called a CT Scanner. After nearly a year of surgery and chemo, I can now look forward to spinning around for the next few days in limbo until it chucks me out either on either the red or black next Wednesday evening.

I remember reading sensible advice about dealing with Scanxiety which to put it simply recommends either distraction or confrontation as a strategy for keeping your heart rate out of the tachycardic range!

Distraction was the strategy of choice and sure enough it presented itself, although not quite in the manner I had in mind. Neutropenia had won again and I had mysteriously picked up a nasty little sick bug which visited me yesterday and resulted in the Ian Rennie nurses sticking needles into my thighs last night to stop the sickness.  I was no better in the morning so was told to take nozanin during the day, a very strong sedative and anti sickness pill.

Here’s where the challenge bit comes in.  I had to turn up this morning viewing the world through what seemed like a film of bendy plastic, drink 700ml of white contrast dye and then lie down in the scanner.  Luckily this wasn’t the MRI scanner that requires you to train as an oyster diver in order to hold your breath for eternity, but a gentler one called a CT.  Despite a belly and armful of contrast dye, the nozanin tablets overpowered me and I nodded off and needed repeated proddings and computerised voiceovers to get me to move.  Not the worst place I have fallen asleep, but I wouldn’t rush out and look for special offers on laterooms.com if I were you.

Meanwhile all these shenanigans have left me feeling pretty numb and I am now less expressive or mobile than your average mozzarella.  Poor Mum has held the fort for over 10 days now and I need to release her to go to my Aunt & Uncle’s alternative royal celebration (their diamond wedding anniversary) tomorrow which sadly I won’t be well enough to attend but wish them very well and hope the diving equipment has turned up for what used to be called their garden.

            

p.s. a picture of the beautiful flowers my darling brother turned up with on Sunday to celebrate last chemo as well as a bottle of bubbly to open on Wednesday evening.

p.p.s a wicked hamper full of sweets that dear Jenny sent for the kids for being so good during all this rubbish.   I am encouraged by how well Lois is dealing with it all; when telling her about the CT scan today, she interrupted and told me they now do magnetic nail varnish and then did a handstand! All is well. x

These pictures say a thousand words – Race for Life!

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Hurrah for the the plug hole in the sky over Wycombe holding long enough to allow some of my adorable friends and family to run race for life yesterday!

Big shout out to Julie and Livvy Palmer, Tina North, Liz Waterson, Rachel Cramer, my niece Esme on her first run, and of course my lovely daughter Lois and my Mum, for all running for CRUK and showing me such incredible support as well as raising well over £1,000 between them.

There’s nothing like the sound of the starting horn and seeing hundreds of women each with individual stories of how cancer has touched them or their families to bring a huge lump to your throat.  And yesterday was even more poignant remembering this time last year when I ran the race with my daughter and Mum (as we do every year) feeling poorly and just days away from being diagnosed with bowel cancer.  So here’s to everyone yesterday who took part, fundraised, donated or is still facing their own struggles with Cancer. You make such a difference and I for one am truly grateful.

Bown’s bunnies!

Final chemo session!

BOTH children turn up with cakes for chemo nurses

The 4 week cake and wine diet has finally ended with my white blood count recovering enough to allow me to have my last chemo session today!  So whilst I am high on emotion, I would like to give a deep heartfelt thanks to my army of friends and family who have held me up when my knees or nerves buckled.  To feel your love, to experience your kindness is the greatest gift cancer can give and I can honestly say you have not stopped giving.  So here’s to you!

My family and friends who when the going gets tough roll up their sleeves or trouser legs and jump in with me;  People who have made me laugh and dried my tears;  helped raise and comfort my children; made me endless cups of tea; walked with me when I needed to get out of the house; gave me wine when I could taste it; sent me weekly cards to keep the postman employed and me in stitches; talked sense into me when I needed it; reminded me of the good times past as well as those to come; sent millions of texts to let me know they are thinking of me and for not always expecting a reply; for loving me when I was at my most unlovable and boring; for listening to me when all I could think or talk about was cancer; for remembering to still ask me out as one of the gang even when it was unlikely that I could make it and of course for not taking no as an answer when offering help! For not treating me as a victim; for all your lovely smiles that hid fear or sadness; for coming to see me when I couldn’t come to you and for keeping me entertained during the bitter winter and even colder spring months with delicious lunches and for putting up with good grace my constant change of plans and last minute cancellations.

And not forgetting my online family, those extraordinary courageous people who have pelted me with support and information and brighten my days when I need gentle stimulation or round the clock chat!

THANK YOU and now goodnight for a week! X

p.s. Race for Life Sunday 10th June at High Wycombe (hmm tricky, but will do best to turn up! Thanks all those raising money and running, walking or just sitting with me!)