… sang James Hetfield some 11/12 years! Although I’ve stolen these lyrics from a song called The Unnamed Feeling, it pretty much summed up how I felt in the waiting room yesterday waiting to see my consultant.
My consultant was running about an hour late and that extra hour of waiting was probably the most agonising wait I’ve ever had to endure. I’ve had 9 PET scans in total over the last 2 years so I should be use to it, but the truth is, the more I have, the more anxious I get. Each scan seems to be more and more important.
In that hour, so much went through my mind. I was kind of aware that it was manically busy but in my mind, I managed to conjure up a different scenario. For example, I saw my stem cell nurse who has spent a good couple of years looking after me dashing from one place to another. She didn’t make eye contact with me or say hello like she normally would and she just looked so serious. Instead of seeing that she was incredibly busy, I read that to be that something was wrong with my results and she couldn’t look me in the eye. It’s completely irrational but at the time, in my mind, it made sense.
When I was finally called in, I was a wreck, I felt sick and I knew the moment I stepped into the office my consultant could see that. I was sat in a chair opposite her hunched over with my shoulders slumped as if I had a tonne of weight on them. That weight lifted completely when she told me, “the scan was good, it’s all clear”. The moment she said that, I sat up as if that weight had fallen off and I couldn’t stop smiling. I wanted to jumped up and do the Snoopy dance and punch the air and now I think of it, I’m not sure why I didn’t! Instead, in my head, I was screaming..
I’M STILL IN REMISSION! F**k CANCER!!!
I’m still screaming it silently as it happens!!
At the moment, life is good! My hair has grown a lot more, I just need to get my arse back to work having been off a few weeks and hope that my kidney function has improved. Results are die back today.
Love to you all!
In some warped way, The Wait by Killing Joke is a pretty appropriate song to have had stuck in my head the last few days. The song is reportedly about waiting for the truth to come out of politicians but I guess in my head the song is just about an excruciating wait for the results of my PET scan I had 2 days ago.
My PET scan went according to plan and without delay, I came out hungry as I had to fast for it. For those of you who are newer to my blog, the reason I had to starve myself is because it forces my blood sugar levels to drop. The glucose can affect the results of the scan as the radioactive dye that is injected into me before the scan can pick that up. The radioactive solution highlights any activity so it’s crucial I’m nil my mouth. After my scan, I went to the predictable Starbucks just down the road from the Macmillan Cancer Centre and got myself a coffee and a croissant, and I can’t recall the taste, I think I literally inhaled it!
The wait for the results this time round was hell. I’m always anxious when I’ve had a scan but this time I was a mess. I was already nervous beforehand but it really escalated afterwards especially as I haven’t been feeling too well. With the mixture of a crazy week at work, moving house, unpacking boxes, lack of sleep from worry and the stress of the scan, I had managed to run myself into the ground. After my appointment with my consultant earlier this week, I was under doctors orders to stop and rest. Very hard for someone like me to do but I forced myself to not look at the mass of unpacking that needs to be done and slept a lot which has done me a world of good. I had a personal training session today which I almost cancelled because I was almost ill with worry and I’m so glad I didn’t, that session took my mind off all the worries and anxiety for an hour!
Anyhow, an hour after my training session, I was given the result of the scan and I can now relax and breath!
1 year remission confirmed! I’m still cancer free! My doctors and I can now relax a little bit more because the longer I stay cancer free the closer I am to a cure! The cancer I had was very aggressive so the first year is crucial!
I actually cried when I heard! I’m so happy! Life is good, I’m in my new house, I’m a year out of transplant and I’m fittest I’ve been my transplant. This is like a new start for me, so I’m going to mark this occasion by publishing this and then do the Snoopy dance!
Stay safe and healthy folks.. Remember.. Life if precious, treasure it and have an amazing weekend!
My last post was brief but it spoke a million words and provoked many feelings including elation, relief, happiness.. that’s why I didn’t feel the need to write much about it. I think a lot of my regular readers will know the routine by now, after all, I have had that many PET scans – seven in fact, which when you think about it, it’s rather astonishing. But in a way, I’m glad that they’re keeping an eye on me and I’m still alive to have them. I have my next one around the first anniversary of my transplant. If that’s clear, it will give me even more breathing space. My consultant basically said, the more remissions I get in the first year to year and a half, the chances of the cancer coming back reduces. I just need to make it to that 1 year mark.
As I said a few blogs ago, this awful disease leaves a nasty legacy of paranoia. I was once that girl who never really got ill or who would just motor on at the first sign of a sniffle, but now it’s almost pure panic to the point that I stroke the sides of my neck several times a day looking for those tell-tale lumps which had caused me several months of hell. Every morning the first thing I do is check my neck, I should be like every other woman my age – checking my phone or Facebook. I find myself checking throughout the day and quite often I don’t realise I’m doing it and it’s also the last thing I do at night too. I was thinking to myself recently that I really need to let it go and maybe relax a bit, then when I woke up this morning I found swollen glands under my jaw and I completely panicked convinced the cancer was coming back. Just as I was about to go into a complete meltdown, I noticed that my throat felt a bit scratchy and that it was a little painful swallowing. I somehow managed to coax myself into calming down and thinking rationally and I’ve been semi-ok all day, though I’m still obsessively stroking my neck. My glands have probably swollen up because of my throat, the glands are under my jaw so they aren’t the lymph nodes that were riddled with cancer all those months ago, the glands are most likely more sore now because I spent all day touching and poking at them. So, I’m going to give it a few days and hope that the throat gets better and the glands calm down and then I can relax a bit more, then mention it the next time I see my consultant. If however, it’s still like this on Monday, I’ll call the UCH transplant team because I guess it’s better to be safe than screwed again.
I’m still a bit spooked and yes, paranoia has gone through the roof once more, but at least the major panic is over for now. A few friends have said I might be run down, so maybe a few nights of extra sleep will help me recover, after all I’ve had a very busy 10 days. This is what I’ve been up to:
-Went to the Aviva in Dublin to watch the Ireland v Italy 6 Nations match, flew home on the Sunday night.
-Flew to Belfast on the Tuesday and worked there for 3 days amongst sniffling ill people and flew home Friday night.
-Traveled to Salford on Sunday night and worked at BBC North before coming home late last night.
I guess looking at that schedule with all the traveling, it was probably inevitable I would catch something with my compromised immune system, in fact looking at that, I’m surprised it has taken me this long to catch a bug. Time to look after myself – especially as I’m doing the 6 mile Sport Relief run on Sunday with 8 other friends! If I can run the whole 6 miles, it’ll be my first post-cancer sporting milestone. I’m not looking at breaking personal bests as I know I won’t get anywhere near them but it’s another step (run) in the right direction, so wish me luck!
Time to sign off, but before I do, just want to say a huge thank you for reading my blog. I look at the stats and comments regularly and quite surprised so many people still read it – especially as I don’t feel like I have anything interesting to say anymore – which is a very good thing because all the gory, more interesting stuff happened when I was really ill. But I’m glad that those going through chemo, radiotherapy and transplants still find my waffling useful and helpful!
Just want to say thanks to an amazing girl I’m proud to call my friend for fielding my emails today about swelling glands and panic. I met her through the Lymphoma Association and she continues to be a huge pillar of support.
Also want to say to hubby’s friend/colleague – Guy – hope the length of this blog makes up for my last one :p
Good night and here are some recent snaps for your amusement!
Scotland v England – 6 Nations Calcutta Cup match at Murrayfield a few weeks back cheering on England!
Ade and I at Murrayfield. Underneath Ade’s coat he has a England shirt on! We both agreed that he would wear an England shirt if I wore an Ireland one for the Ireland match!
In a kiddies Ireland jersey before the Ireland v Italy match at Lansdowne Road.
What a match to go to! Saw the last ever home appearance by Brian O’Driscoll for Ireland!
What I love the most.. Ade isn’t bad either!
It’s hard to believe that we’re coming to the end of February, and it’s also hard to believe that it has been 9 months since I had my stem cell transplant. To coincide with that, I had a PET scan today which will probably explain to some of you guys why I’ve been excessively tired the past week and at times, a bit on edge. Truth be told, I thought the anticipation of PET scans and the wait for results would be something I’d get use to over time, but the more of these I have the more anxious and nervous I get.
I’ve had the scan appointment for weeks now so I knew it was coming, but it’s always the way, a week before the actual scan, I turn into a nervous wreck and a raving insomniac. I can probably count on both hands and feet exactly how many hours of sleep I have had in the last seven nights. Last Thursday was the worse night I’ve had in months, I didn’t sleep at all. I bumbled out of bed on Friday morning to go to work feeling like a zombie which is impressive as that meant I’d actually bypassed the ‘feel like utter crap’ stage. It wasn’t until I got home that night I managed to give myself a fright when I realised that I couldn’t remember the drive home at all. It was all a blur! I remember leaving the BBC car park, parking on my driveway but nothing in between.
The scan today went as well as scans go, there were no delays and no surprises, but I did find it slightly sad that as I’ve had so many of these, the staff in Nuclear Medicine all know me now – we chat like we’re old friends! During the preparation, I was given the usual radioactive injection then I was rested for an hour before the actual scan. During the ‘resting’ period, another girl was brought in and set up in the cubicle next to mine. This made me feel really sad as it took me back to the first PET scan I ever had. She was only 28 years old and it was her first ever scan. The nurse took her through all the questions and explained what a PET scan was, what it involved and how long it would take. She sounded so scared and confused that my heart broke for her. I really felt like getting up to give her a huge hug and tell her it’ll be alright as long as she stays strong. It was only then I realised how much time had passed since that was me. Although these scans send my stress levels through the roof, it’s nothing compared to the anxiety I felt waiting to have my first PET scan and finding out the extent of the disease.
Anyhow, until I get the results, I doubt I’ll sleep well, but it’s worth a try! So this is me signing off for the night! I’m hoping I’ll get the results tomorrow, so in the mean time.. Wish me luck and send some good healthy vibes my way!
I only had the PET scan yesterday and I wasn’t expecting to find out so soon, especially after the debacle that was the actual scan itself.
I arrived on time at the Nuclear Medicine department at UCH and straight away I was told there was a delay in my scan due to issues with the radioactive injection. I was so disappointed as I was already starving due to being nil by mouth for several hours. I sat down in the waiting room and waited the extra 90 minutes and in that time I was sat next to a woman chomping on a massive sandwich and a packet of cheese and onion crisps. I was seriously tempted to grab it and smash it in her face. I was hungry and irritable and I thought it was really insensitive that she was sat there waiting for her friend who was being scanned and teasing hungry patients in the waiting room with her picnic. I could see a few dirty looks from other patients who didn’t seem too impressed with her. I eventually got scanned and spent almost every minute since worrying about the results. I had a crap night sleep and been pretty scatty today because of it, I even managed to spill an enormous cup of coffee over my desk at work!
On the way home today, I had a phone call from my transplant nurse to discuss my results..
I’M STILL CANCER FREE AND I’M STILL IN REMISSION!!!
This time last year, the idea of going back to work was unfathomable, my only focus was to survive, and here I am relaxing in front of the TV after the start of my second week back at work. Most people I know hate the thought of going back to work, be it after a holiday, career break, maternity or whatnot, but not me, I spent the weeks in the run-up counting down the days! It’s a complete cliché, but having gone to hell and back, I have a different perspective on life and the things that you tend to take for granted and once, I did take everyday things like my job for granted. I’m not doing that again, I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve been given a second chance at life, never mind being healthy enough to go back to work – some people aren’t so fortunate.
So, work.. Last Tuesday was my first day back and I can honestly say that I was a bit apprehensive. It wasn’t like I was going back to my old desk or even the building I use to work in, I was going to a new building, new desk with new people in the team. But the extraordinary thing is, the moment I got in, sat down, caught up with friends, it almost felt as if I never went away. The familiarity was there but at the same time it felt good to be in a different building and sat at a new desk – in a way it’s symbolic – going back to my old life but starting afresh. And off course the familiarity was enhanced by the fact that none of the technology I needed on my laptop worked!!
At the moment, I’m only working on a part-time basis whilst my consultant, bosses and family continue to wrap me up in cotton wool. I’m hoping that in January, I can go back to working full-time, again this all depends on how I cope between now and then. So far so good, my energy levels have been very good and my concentration has definitely improved a great deal over the past few weeks. I worked 3 short days last week, attended a black tie livery event with Ade on Friday night, went to the England match at Twickenham on Saturday, a personal training session and gym visits in between all that and I still had the energy to go to work this morning! Despite that, I know I need to listen to my body because I’m still not out of the woods yet. I have my 6 month post-transplant PET scan in two weeks which I’m already getting nervous about – I really hope it comes out clear. If it does, I can make holiday plans for early next year and maybe think about going to more football/rugby matches in the new year. I’m not planning anything for 2014 yet as I don’t want to tempt fate. Anyhow, I’m going to try and put the scan to the back of my mind and finish this post with a few photos for your viewing pleasure!