Cancer has no respect. It’s name should be Trump. It assaults, attacks, enters your life and your home rudely and arrogantly destroying the way of life previously enjoyed. It devastates family members at all levels….some cannot handle the shock and I believe it can then bring out the worst selfishness of a few…it is a form of grief and has to be forgiven and tolerated although difficult to accept.
It does bring out the best in people too and I’m so blessed to have such wonderful support from my close family members in various ways and at different levels. My husband Tim, although not a well man himself and trying to keep his business afloat, takes the best of care of me. As I said to him the other day, I’ll bet he never thought he’d have to shower and dress me, walk me to bed or to the car. Last week he insisted on a wheel chair for me to get to the CT scan…my first time of not being capable of walking a long corridor, but completely unavoidable and necessary. His reply was that he was here for me no matter what and reminded me of all that I’ve done for him over the years. I am very lucky and blessed indeed to have such a loving, happy second marriage that was a mere dream during my unhappy first marriage.
Since the last blog, I opted to attend the blood test appointment by taxi cab so that Tim could see a client who was unable to reschedule. I was convinced I could do it. The first fare was a nasty guy who complained about the short distance, so I had words with him about that and told him I could have called an Uber but preferred to support the regular taxi guys as they are hurting. I reported him to the company.
The trip home to the unit was vastly different…it was a people mover van with steps…I admit I have always hated them even when well….call me a snob but I think they are inelegant and should be for groups going on pub crawls. This was to be my first sign all was not well with my hopes for progress. I could not get up the steps. My legs turned to jelly and I fell twice. The tall, strong, kind Pakistani driver caught me each time, then lifted me into the nearest seat, buckling me in like a child. I felt so embarrassed but he told me his mother had cancer and suffered the same way. So kind and thoughtful and compassionate.
As we drove off it hit me with terrifying clarity, there are a dozen steps up to the front door of the Oakes Hotel…I would never make it. How I wished I could be the Bewitched girl and wiggle my nose for Tim’s instant appearance! I told the driver of my concern ; he suggested he drive me down to the car park, as I mentioned I could take the lift up and not have to deal with any stairs. He insisted on walking me to the lift, holding my hand….I was shaky, unsteady and my confidence had quickly disappeared….he put me in the lift, wished me well waiting till the doors closed and I was on my way up. I was in floods of tears in response to his kindness by the time I got safely into the unit and collapsed in devastation and shock on the couch. I rang the cab company and gave him the best review and reference ever since the one I wrote for our fantastic real estate agent in Maryborough. Little kindnesses are the best and mean so much more than the big flourishes.
The PET scan was scheduled the week before the long weekend here. I am still none the wiser as to what the Public Holiday was for and was too het up to care really. The scan took almost four hours because of the dyes that are injected and have to slowly travel round the entire system. I slept due to feeling weak and tired. I knew even then something wasn’t going well for me but didn’t say anything to anyone.
On the Friday before the weekend the review of the results with Kirk was eagerly awaited. He had good and bad news which if I’m honest, I was expecting. He showed Tim and I the original scan in May to compare with this recent one. Back in May my head was not in a good place ….obviously….and I was shocked to see the amount of affected cells throughout my body. My attention had been drawn to the neck area of course, and my hip at the time, so that was virtually most of what I remembered. I was somewhat shocked and gobsmacked to realise I was riddled!
The recent scan showed all of that cleared out…such a relief….until Kirk pointed out there are two big spots remaining. One at the original onset in my neck; the other on the left side of my oesophagus. Disappointing to say the least but seemingly manageable with more treatment. Kirk was just as disappointed as we were, but I remained calm and asked all the questions as you can imagine. Tim was very upset. Kirk was upset. I said I’d carry on with the fight and what was the next step. Kirk suggested we take time out and go to Maryborough for the long weekend – I was hesitant and thought it may be a bad move. I also had a deep fear Kirk was saying ‘Go home and say goodbye to everyone and your house’. Silly but I reckon pretty normal under those circumstances. He would arrange a CT scan to gauge the depth of the masses we had to deal with and would call me with the appointment times. We left Brisbane that afternoon with heavy hearts but refusing to believe the worst. It is just another hump in the road.
It was so lovely to be home again. The first vision as we entered the electric gates was the back garden which is an absolute picture and a riot of colour now. The dogs were on the veranda and went crazy when we pulled up. Tim had to help me upstairs where his parents and the dogs were waiting…later Tiger and Missy came to say hello from their comfy sleeping corners, yawning and stretching lazily. Daisy wore socks to protect me from her claws…she kept them on and they were so darned cute. Chilli was happy to see us in spite of the fact she was far from well herself with bowel problems…poor girl spent most of the weekend at the vets’ surgery which has cost us a fortune. Worth it though in the long run. I wish I could go to the vets and be cured as quickly.
That night Tim’s nephew Alex and his gorgeous girlfriend Erin (my beautiful Melbourne work mate and now very precious addition to my family forever) arrived en route from Sydney to Townsville where Alex is stationed in the Army. I left bed and spent a few hours talking and catching up. The following morning Adrian prepared eggs and bacon for everyone, but I opted for a poached egg on toast which was expertly cooked and tasty. I enjoyed mine on the front veranda. Daisy at my feet, Erin chatting to me, Mary fussing (bless her), and Alex filling Tim and Adrian in on his work so far in the far north. No rest for me that day as I wanted to spend as much time as possible with Erin. Tim believes I tired myself out and that was the start of the extreme tiredness and lack of strength. Of course we know now it was because of the lymphoma doing what it does best….spreading aggressively in those two areas.
Daisy stuck close to me all weekend. She was never far from my side except at night when she had to sleep in her bed downstairs. What a beautiful little girl. So lucky we are to have her.
Tuesday Kirk rang to say the CT scan was scheduled for Thursday 8am and I was to see him Friday. As the energy, strength and tiredness was getting worse each day, we stayed till Wednesday afternoon. I cried when saying goodbye to Daisy, Mary and Adrian. I was exhausted when we arrived at the unit and was flat out walking at all. Poor Tim had to more or less carry me most of the way. Hence the wheelchair trip to the scan the following morning, and again to the blood test room on Friday, where the nurses promptly put me in a bed and told me to rest. I was there for the rest of the day.
Kirk came in to my ward bed and we knew by his face the news was not good. In the week between the PET and CT scans, the remaining areas of cancer cells had doubled in size…it’s rather aggressive. He said by the end of the third course of Epoch with Eric and Oscar doing their job so capably, it was clear….but the lymphoma fought back during the next three courses thus causing the infections and problems, and of course my close call, and my many returns to this ward over the past couple of months.
Tim cried….Kirk cried….then I cried. Kirk said he could stop all further treatment if that was my wish.
I told Kirk calmly I want to beat this and will carry on with whatever treatment he and his team decide for me. He admitted me to Ward 5C immediately where I’ve been on a course of steroids in preparation for the next lot of chemo…not Epoch though. It could have adverse effects. Steroids build muscle and encourage energy, eating and strength in general…while still shaky on my feet, at least I can walk to the loo now unaided, gripping the IV pole for grim death. Tomorrow I learn what Kirk and his crew have decided on for my next part of this trek.
The staff put me in the original room by the window, Rom 17. The team is the original too. Good omens I believe. They are all so caring and skilled.
My neighbour Mavis is 80. She was first diagnosed in 1992 and was cleared for remission for 28 years, when the lymphoma struck again in 2010 and she’s been fighting it on and off since then. She is exhausted and not at all well poor darling. I was mildly amused but not surprised today when her daughter and granddaughter visited and listed things they want to take from her home….they bitched about another daughter wanting the Christmas tree and decorations that have been in the family for ever. Mercenary greed is in every family it seems. I felt for her…I could hear the deep sadness and hurt in her replies to them as she agreed to give what they asked for. Tonight she is sick, weak and I believe, giving up. I hope my fears are wrong.
It’s a late night for me as I’ve been watching the TV movie on Peter Brock our racing car legend who died 10 years ago in Perth driving in a rural rally. Tim worked on the rally and as both of us had met Peter many times before, and I wanted to meet Grant Denyer, a dinner date was set up for us that night in the city….I secretly wanted to meet Madam Bamford too who had stolen Peter from Bev so outrageously. The dinner never happened because of Peter’s poor preparation for the race so soon after his flight from the UK and his exhaustion. He died that morning. A sad, sad day for Australian car racing. We still miss him….he was a wonderful character…a flirt, a daredevil, a handsome swine, an absolute darling.
Tim was invited to his funeral in Melbourne….a huge turnout for a well loved hero.
Peter; Peter and Bev; Peter and Bamford; Bev and their sons at the funeral.
RIP Peter Brock.
More news next blog. Take care, keep smiling and be kind to all you meet. Much love and thanks for your continuing support, which is desperately needed right now. Catch you soon. xxxxxx