I’ve felt the intense pain of this cancer eating away at my bones. At the time I thought it was nothing more than a slipped disc. A combination of spinal surgery and my daily afitinib tablet have left me a lot more comfortable and, for now, a lot more mobile.
But it’s fairly well known that the afitinib will, one day, stop working. The cancer will fight back. Knowing this makes me hyper-sensitive to the aches and pains of life. Many of these are a reminder that I’m 49 and have spent much of my adult life being overweight. Some of them are a result of damage already done by this illness – my hips hurt after walking. Getting in and out of a chair can be a slow process.
There isn’t a day goes by when I don’t have at least a fleeting moment when I wonder if the drug is no longer effective. Is that a new pain? Has that dull ache I sometimes get worsened? Why did it take me longer to stand up?
After Wednesday’s positive news from the oncologist that such a moment may lead to the new treatment osimertinib being prescribed perhaps I should worry less. It’s a follow up treatment that should extend life a little further for those testing positive for a particular mutation. I’ve just realised while typing this that means another biopsy to look forward too in future! While trials are short term in nature 2% of those taking osimertinib have shown to have no tumours at all a year after treatment started. So I can travel in hope that I join the 2%. Or that it buys me time for the next wonder drug to come along.
My main fear is missing the Ashes down under. The credit crunch decimated my shareholdings in 2008 denying me the opportunity to go. It would be a massive disappointment not to make it this time. I don’t underestimate the importance of booking a trip ten months ahead in keeping me mentally focused on getting one over on cancer.
I’ve had a few weeks to come to the conclusion that I don’t fear death though. It’s inevitability has always been there and while the timing appears to be closer than is fair it’s the same result. I’m pretty sure it is easier to say that when your kids are grown up. My tearful moments have come on the realisation that I may miss out on being a grandparent, weddings (one down, two to go) and a graduation. If the kids were younger I think I’d be tortured and really struggling. It’s great to see them all as fully functioning adults. Making their own decisions. Leading their own lives. Making me proud.