I’ve been in remission for a year. I don’t know if it’s the pandemic, or that time just stands still after a cancer diagnosis. But I can’t believe a year has gone by since my first negative scan in 2019.
Being in remission, or ‘cancer free’ will never feel real to me. Cancer does funny things to your brain, and you condition yourself to think you’ll never be free of it. It’s not like you don’t hope, or dream it’s all over. But somewhere in the back of your mind, there’s always a little voice saying “well, it might come back”.
I wrote about scanxiety for Macmillan (the giant UK cancer charity) last week. It was coming up to scanning time, and I felt like I needed to record it for posterity. With all the things that are going on in the world at the moment, the simple story of how I felt about my own journey needed to be told.
I’m writing a lot at the moment. Cancer charities, professional bodies and survivor groups want to hear my story, and I’m starting to really enjoy telling it. I’m appearing on the huge hit podcast series Sickboy this week too.
As I write this, the snow is falling in England. It’s a fairly rare sight down here in the warmer supra-suburban sprawl of the capital. When the snow comes, our world pauses and everyone comes out to play. You see more smiling faces on the street, and kids that have never met play together like they’ve always been best friends.
Today is a good day.
I’m amazed at how quickly this latest check-up has come around. It seems only yesterday, that I was being pushed through the St George’s scanning machine in record time.
My scan at St Anthony’s on Friday afternoon was followed up by the professor on Saturday morning. I led with the good news of my genital edema having mostly disappeared, and the lymphedema in my leg being under control. The exercise and the drastic weight loss has really helped on that score.
Prof was confident that the scan showed no reason for concern, at that there wasn’t any obvious recurrence of disease. We still need to wait for the radiology experts to complete their report though. The experts in the MDT will take a view on it on Tuesday too.
But all I heard was “no reason for concern”. It’s not like the Prof gets it wrong very often.
The ‘tangerine sized’ lymphocele in my pelvis has disappeared too. It could well be that removing that little blockage in my lymphatic system has really helped to move everything along. That little lymphocele could have caused all the trouble over the last year or so…
Varicose veins, what am I? 90?
I spoke to the prof about some varicose veins I seem to have developed over the last few months. He’s a bit cautious about me undergoing any vascular surgery at the moment, but it’s probably worth a scan to see what’s going on. When I had the first big bout of surgery in 2019, the prof tied off a big vein so any work down there needs a bit of thinking about, and to not do too much, too quickly.
In my excitement, I completely forgot to ask about the potential benefits of any manual lymphatic drainage, so I’ll have to remember when we catch up on Tuesday. With all the improvement in my leg it’s probably not necessary, but I’d still like to know if it’s ever worth pursuing.
I wonder if, after a year of negative scans, that life can start to return to normal. If it wasn’t for a global pandemic of course.
Speaking of which, I’m firmly in group 4 for the vaccine. I’m less than a year out from my last piece of treatment, so I’m definitely ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. The UK is doing really well on the vaccine rollout, probably down to us developing out own, but it can’t really come quickly enough.
Lots of other legacy cancer patients have already been vaccinated, but I still haven’t yet. I haven’t even seen a letter. The prof has written to my GP saying I need to be prioritised for the vaccine, but like everything else on the NHS it will take as long as it takes I guess.
Anyway, that’s no big deal. It’s been a great few days, and I’m living for that.