It’s taken me a while to commit to putting fingers to keyboard and update my last cliff hanger so apologies for keeping you waiting. But you can now all say “Told you so” and go and have a nice cup of green tea as a celebration.
My mate Andy tells me our brains are programed to pay more attention to bad news than good. It’s a survival thing. So on that basis, this little update is now floating around in the ether and will soon disappear down the back of the internet.
But my incredible news is the MRI scan I had a few weeks ago on the chopped liver is still unremarkable, NED or just plain “we still can’t see any cancer and believe me we looked long and hard”. A funny word or sentence to describe something so miraculous.
I have struggled to write this because for the life of me I don’t want to come across as smug or preachy. I am more than aware of the extraordinary miracle that my life has become which I am also more than aware, I can take no credit for. I know I have been inexplicably lucky, but I can’t understand that any more than I can explain those who haven’t been or why bad things happen to good people.
It’s been 3 years since my cells starting behaving badly and many dear friends have died and still many more are terminal. Of course cancer is random, unfair and ugly. But what makes it even sadder is the inequality in treatment and care which robs people of hope. It is why I am showing my support to Bowel Cancer UK’s Time for Guts campaign, for highlighting the fact that survival rates and experiences are still unnecessarily very poor for people with advanced bowel cancer. And a major reason for this is down to being offered liver surgery and the right drugs based on clinical need, not postcode. It is inhumane that survival in the 21st century can still be down to luck, location, money or how hard you are willing to fight the system. Please take time to read this and donate, make a fuss and fundraise for those who can’t.
We all need hope, something to hang on to when we get a little close to the edge. Life is unimaginably awful without it.
So that is why I am committed to keep writing or banging on about it, even when I am struggling to find the right words. I didn’t think or could see any hope when I first typed into the Beating Bowel Cancer forum “Is there anyone out there cured of stage 4 bowel cancer?” But fast forward 3 years and I can answer. It is possible, with the best treatment, even with recurrent stage 4 bowel cancer to be in remission. In my case for a record breaking year and counting. Maybe, hopefully someone, somewhere reading this will perk up a little.
And whilst I am getting all my good news out in one blog, hold on to your hats; I got married last month. To John, the man I met 6 weeks before I relapsed last July. Turned out there was one good man left who wanted to take a chance on a dodgy girl over 40 with a screwed up immune system.
Finally, if you are still with me, I just want to finish with saying thank you again. To God for giving me comfort when I was making all sorts of bargains lying down shivering in the MRI scanner. And to everyone else in my life who has to up with my constant paranoia.
As a treat, here is a little passage from “Desiderata” which Kate’s (and now my) friend, Dati read to me when I needing some of that lifting up one day. It worked for me, hope it will for you. x
Desiderata – by max ehrmann
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann c.1920