THE TIGHTROPE THAT IS REMISSION FROM CANCER.
ON THE TIGHTROPE
Currently, one in every three people can expect to be hit by some form of Cancer during their lifetime. Predictions now forecast that this will rise to 4 out of every 10 people over the next decade or so. These are frightening statistics but thankfully, as the statistics rise on the debit side, so the Medical advances, powered in no small measure by the efforts of ordinary people raising monies for Charitable Organisations and Research, about which more later, increase equally quickly, so the positive chances of recovery also are on the up.
Following treatment, the patient will hopefully be pronounced as being in Remission. Effectively this means that at the time of the post treatment Scan, no evidence of Tumour, Lymphoma or Cancerous activity was located. Remission at the time a patient is first told they have reached that state is indeed music to the ears. However, Remission does not mean Cure. As a patient that fact sinks slowly, but surely, into the thought processes. Cure, of course, means not only that there are no signs of cancer remaining but that the Medical prognosis is that the cause has been totally eradicated. As of yet, whilst being clear on the difference, I have not discussed the difference with any member of my Oncology team, generally just being happy to be classified as in Remisson.
Even so, the factor of the gap between remission and cured does exercise the mind. Only recently, a good friend of mine, with a different cancer who has been in remission for sometime, received the setback, that a Scan had revealed recommencement of Cancerous activity and that a further treatment of Chemotherapy was required. I wish him well, for like me he is a strong believer in POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE and he must regenerate that to undertake this further treatment.
Thoughts such as these come and go over the days but heighten as one approaches a further meeting with the Consultant. In my case this was yesterday. No Scan had been taken on this occasion but full blood test analysis had been provided 24 hours prior to the consultation. As readers of my Hubs may recall, my chief Consultant is Dr Paul Cervi. Dr Cervi is a cross between Edward G Robinson, James Cagney and Bob Hoskins ! He has always struck me as a man who smiles into his shaving mirror in the morning to get it over with for the day. However, whatever he may seemingly lack in "bedside" manner, he more than compensates in knowledge and judgement and has undoubted support and affection from the other members of his Oncology Unit.This shines through to all fortunate enough to be treated by them.
Thus it was that at 4.00 pm, yesterday, Dr Cervi, entered the Consuting room armed with my blood results. At once he posed the usual question as to how I was feeling since the last Consultation with him 4 months previously. This had been a bit tetchy as I had refused to make the decision on whether to go on to Stem Cell Transplant treatment as my body was saying no more, but my mind told me I was not qualified to make the call.This had pushed the good Doctor into making my decision for me and he determined a Scan ,following which, if no cancerous activity had returned, we would conclude treatment and I would go on to a watch and wait programme. The scan was negative, so instead of 4 weeks in Hospital in London under High Dose Treatment, Itook 8 weeks rest, recuperation and excercise in Turkey.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating of course and so I experienced great relief when Dr Cervi told me my bloods were excellent ,especially, my Haemoglobin rising to very good levels. Remember, my T-Cell Lymphoma, is a blood cancer disease. At that point a rare thing occured as a smile, yes truly, a smile, spread over the Consultant"s face. "On balance, I think you made the right decision not to go for transplant", he said. I reminded him that it was he, not I, who had finally made the decision. The smile spread even more then his head lowered shyly, at the realisation that any praise for this was down to him and not me. Clearly, a man who finds praise even more difficult to take than criticism, I feel.
My wife wished to discuss her main worry. Was 12 stones 6 lbs enough for me to weigh when I had previously topped 13 stones? It was.
My concerns on Neuropathy continuance in hands and feet came next and confirmed these would linger longer, and may never go away. A nuisance but no more than that. Finally I referred to a pain or twinge on my right side just below waist level. Again , a smile, "Mr Adams, you are without doubt the fittest 71 year old I have seen, but do accept that some aches and pains are normal with age"! I explained that it is my wife who worries the most and the Doctor told us both that all we should look for were lumps and bumps on the body, sudden weight loss and loss of appetite and in case of any of those to call the team at once, but other than that, to get on with living and make an appointment for 3 months time.
"I CANNOT SAY YOU ARE CURED BUT AT PRESENT THINGS SEEM TO BE GOING THE RIGHT WAY, ESPECIALLY AS WITH YOUR TYPE OF CANCER, RETURN IS MORE LIKELY IN THE EARLY POST TREATMENT MONTHS"
That is as good as it gets on this tightrope believe me.So we embark on a further 3 months on the Remission Tightrope, desperately hoping not to fall off, but understanding that if I were so to do, I could not be in more secure hands.
CONTINUING SIDE EFFECTS.
As outlined above,my main side effect problem from Chemo, is Neuropathy in both hands and feet. Feet are the lesser problem with the balls of each foot feeling spongy and toes still tingling somewhat. The symptoms are there but do not interfere with normal activity such as walking or swimming and provide no pain. However, I have noticed a tightening of the joints making normal mobility stretching and flexing more difficult. If this persists, at the next consultation, I shall enquire about Physiotherapy for remedial activity.
Hands are a real bind. If I had not had Chemo, I would think that Arthritis had struck me. My hands have lost strength, for example unscewing a jar is either difficult or impossible Putting fingers together as if praying is hard to do and painful and most curious of all has worsened since we returned from sunny Turkey, to rainy Britain.
I shall monitor the "side strain" referred to above, on the basis I had similar, though stronger tensions there in the months leading up to the perforation of the bowel last year. Maybe Dr Cervi is right though and they are symptoms of older age!
Finally, earlier this year, my stepson, Ryan, raised money for Lymphoma Research by running the London Marathon. Now in October, my two sons, David and Chistopher, backed by Lymphoma Research, Kia and many celebrities from the world of Cricket, will undertake a 888/ 1429 km mile cyclothon to visit each and everyone of the 18 County Cricket Headquarters in the Country.The thought of being saddle sore for 15 days appals me, but they have set their minds to it to cover close on 60 miles a day. My next Hub ,in their honour will be to explain in full the idea, the fundraising and the details of the trip itself.