I HAD A LYMPHOMA / 41

JULY 2012 CHECK UP

Last year I was able to report that my remission from Lymphoma was ongoing and that a check up was arranged for January 2012 on the usual 3 monthly basis. That check up was also positive and as a result the timescale between check ups was increased to 6 months. This meant that I was able to get in a full 9 weeks in the sun of Turkey, away from the dismal UK weather, before reporting for the check up on July 26. Turkey is important to me to bolster my Positive Mental Attitude because I can programme my sporting exercise, that is so important to me regarding my ongoing condition.

Readers may recall that in 2011, I shunned the chance of high dose chemotherapy and stem transplant treatment after completing my Chemotherapy and Lumbar Punctures, in favour of the exercise programme in Turkey, based upon my body telling me that it had had enough of harsh drugs ,at least for the moment. On my return, my Consultant told me I had made the correct choice on the face of things and since then my condition has improved steadily.

From a worst measurement of 11 stones, my weight is now a comfortable 13 stones once more, sitting alongside my height of 6 ft. The left ventricular ejection fraction, damaged by the drugs eating away at the heart muscle wall, has, as was predicted repaired itself. The neuropathy in hands and feet continues to diminish ,albeit slowly. I can now form a fist with my right hand and about 90% of one with my left, and though my fingers are not fully returned they are more nimble than last year. Internally, all seems to be recovered, especially the stomach area, where the perforated bowel that triggered off the whole process has settled down fully with normal service fully operational. The full credit for this goes not only to the surgeons, but to my wife as well for her ever vigilant stance ensuring that I stick strictly to a Gluten Free Diet. The medics are united in their opinion that my coeliac condition played the key role in establishing the Lymphoma in the first place. As a result, I now have an overwhelming feeling of "wellness" whilst always being aware that none of us know what lies in wait around the corner.

From the above, you will understand that I approached the check up with some confidence. I understand clearly now that the check up is based on 2 main considerations. Firstly, and most important is the readings provided by the blood test one has 2 days before the meeting. Secondly and based on those results the Doctor makes a visual assessment of general health.This I suppose is why at each check up there is a different Doctor involved. This I found disconcerting initially but now accept it as a matter of course.

Thus, for July 2012, a veteran Doctor, with a clear "bedside manner ", pronounced that the bloods were fine, the weight fine, the general health fine and in the absence of any new lumps in key areas, night sweats etc, I was doing OK. The matter of high dose chemo etc was discussed briefly with the practitioner explaining that those who had it were often longer lived than those without and that the age barrier had now been raised from 65 to 75 years. Advances in Cancer Treatment are reassuringly continuing. In my case, the decision reached was to return for check up in 6 more months and that it would be 5 years from the end of Chemo before I could be considered out of remission and cured. So a new PMA target of 2016 is now fixed into place in my mind. As I have said before, I count myself fortunate to have had such excellent treatment at Hospital, and excellent Pastoral Care from my wife and support from family and friends along this very tortuous road.

LOOKING AHEAD.

As stated above, 2016 is now fixed in my mind as a target date, and one to work towards to fulfill the l aim from the outset, of beating this iniquitous disease. I n this aim, the role of PMA cannot be underestimated. This was highlighted in Turkey, when I spoke with a lady who is going through Chemotherapy at the moment, with Radiotherapy to follow, for Breast Cancer, having already had her breast removed by Surgery. She had decided to come to Turkey to support her husband, her chief carer, accompanied here by grandchildren. A brave decision, given that she had to keep out of the sun and was due her next Chemo within 6 days of returning home. We chatted about the initial feelings at diagnosis and how understanding that 1 in 3 people now can expect to have Cancer at some point, was a big step board to developing PMA. those who think, "Why me ?" are those who put themselves in danger whilst those who say "Why not me ?" are the people on the way to developing the necessary PMA. The lady in question has that. She is taking things step by step. First to complete Chemo, then to find out what the Radiotherapy involves, and so on. This, to me is the right way to approach things and I wish her well on her own journey.

My own journey, as indicated , is 4 years from completion and who knows what lies ahead? Even so, as I look back and revisit the Hubs that have chronicled events since diagnosis to treatments, to remission status, I can recall vividly the good days and the bad ones. The side effects I did not have, I am grateful for, the ones I did get, are now seen as challenges to overcome, even though at the time they were more than a nuisance. Perhaps my greatest difficulty was overcoming the tiredness and listlessness caused by the drugs, whilst accepting that the condition was perfectly normal in the circumstances.

Thus, looking forward means a lot of looking back as well, for in so doing, there is found the impetus to revitalise the PMA and to learn again that nothing should be taken for granted. The problem with Cancer is, that unlike general life, you do not always get out what you put in, but what is for sure is that if you do not commit yourself fully to beating the thing, you can expect not so to do. Every day in remission is a glorious bonus and a day nearer being classified as cured. If that alone is not something to look forward to, then I, for one, do not know what is !

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