I’ve quite enjoyed the last few months. A temporary cure from the extreme pain I was in last October delivered via surgery and afatinib. The freedom to travel thanks to an employer who didn’t have to be so generous. And a freedom to write which, along with booking travel and travelling, have helped me fill my days with positives rather than focusing on the rather obvious elephant in the room.
At the end of last week I felt pain again in an area of my pelvis that had suffered hugely last year, before I knew it was cancer. What felt like an impact injury on a bit of bone that juts out at the back. But there had been no impact.
The pain itself was mild. I wasn’t rushing to my stock of multiple drugs built up with the frequent prescriptions of the Autumn. But it was different. And it worried me. And defeatist thoughts entered my head about not going to The Ashes.
The afatinib has been wonderful for me. Notwithstanding the acne, rash and diarrhoea it brings. But it’s always been on the understanding that one day the tumours will fight back. And by Saturday morning I was convinced that they had.
My hospital has a 24/7 helpline for cancer patients so I called. The medic on the other end of the phone was keen to ensure I wasn’t undergoing spinal collapse. And then the stunning response came.
“You can take up to eight paracetomol a day and if the pain gets worse call us again next week”.
In other words, treat your returning cancer like it’s a mild headache. I did take a couple of Naproxen anti-inflammatory pills and these managed the pain reasonably well.
Then on Monday I contacted my dedicated cancer nurse with a plan for a scan. She toddled off to the oncologist and came back with “turn up for your appointment next Tuesday and get an X-ray and blood test beforehand”. No CT scan. They just want a snapshot of my lungs to assess a pain in my pelvis. Witchcraft!
After a few minutes of stunned nothingness I eventually got to a point of inner calm. Perhaps the truth lies in the blood tests. Perhaps they want to wait few weeks for the tumour to grow before picturing it. Perhaps it’s all in my mind and I need to chill. If the hospital can be calm so can I.
Oddly enough, the mild pain has become even milder since then. Perhaps there’s been bone regrowth that feels different and is pressing on me a little. Perhaps it is an impact injury after all, but I recall no impact. Whatever’s going on, I’ve managed to reach a point of what will be will be.
I am going to Australia and dragging 23kg of suitcase around the place with me, regardless of any pain. Even if the tumours are back. Even if the medical advice is not to. The Credit Crunch stopped me going to the Ashes a few years ago. I’m not letting something as irritating as cancer stop me this time.
Hopefully I’ll still be on afatinib when I’m there.