I’ve been enjoying my days off, seeing friends and managing a few social things, but today was back in the hospital to get the results of last weeks scan.
The waiting room was empty, just me, and down the hall I could see Dr Kruger and Caz my Macmillan nurse chatting. Dr. K called me in pretty soon and Caz came in too. That prepared me in a small way for what Dr K had to say. The cancer has grown and spread. From the scan 8 weeks ago the single node in my chest has enlarged and still glowing hot, an adjacent node is avid and enlarged almost as much, there are two nodes beginning to show in my lower neck and there’s a hot spot in my left lung.
This is a lot of new cancer, and it’s aggressive and moving fast. I’m not sure what to say at this point. It’s a monster. I have a lot of questions but the answer from the hospital team seems simple – get me back in to treatment as soon as possible.
I’ll be going back into hospital on the 31st, beginning the 9 week / 3-cycle pre-stem cell transplant ‘platinum’ chemotherapy which it is hoped will knock back the cancer again. I’ll be scanned again at the end of week 6 to see how it’s going and whether the dose needs upping. In the meantime, there will be a debate as to whether I’ll undergo autologous Stem Cell Transplant using my own stem cells (which is apparently easier for the body to accept but somewhat less effective against the cancer) or whether to pursue allogenic STC (which uses a donors stem cells with a higher risk of rejection and complications but potentially a higher chance of boosting my immune system to keep the cancer down). At this point I’m not quite clear how we decide which option – we’d have a to find a good donor match, and it also depends on how the cancer responds to the chemo I think. There’s lots to try to understand.
So, that dull feeling in my chest probably is the cancer. Weird. What other symptoms? Well, I think I’ve stopped gaining weight and am down from my peak of 70kg, but only half a kilo. No night sweats, no back pain (but it’s not in my spine now), no eczema. Just a dullness. And quite tired I guess, though sleeping has been disrupted quite a bit over the last few weeks as I’ve tried to get to this point of knowing.
After the meeting with Dr. K I talk some more to Caz who makes some calls to book me in for the chemo. She wonders if I want to sign the consent forms now or do them on the day. I opt for the latter, I’m not sure why – some small gesture of choice I suppose.
On the way out I stop at the main reception to get a call through to the Records Office to order up a copy of my scans. Just as I start my conversation there’s a loud fat glowing sound deafening me and I turn round to see a Brass Band ensemble right there behind me, starting in on the Christmas Carols. I somehow didn’t see them as I walked to the desk and I’m laughing and have to hang up, go outside and call again from my mobile. Brilliant.
Alison and Milli, my lovely ambulance service are there in the car park waiting for news and for me, to take me home.