I HAD A LYMPHOMA/1
Two days on now since I was told by my Consultant that my metabolic response to Chemotherapy had been excellent and the abdominal nodal disease found previously had been resolved and given the documentation to confirm that.
I must confess after initial euphoria to returning quite often to the documentation to confirm that it is reality and not just some form of wicked dream. Like all cancer patients, you hope for such a result but prepare yourself for the less positive possibilities.
This saga began on June 17 when I first had the painful symptoms that culminated in a perforated bowel and the emergency operation on June 18 ,during which the mesenteric mass, later diagnosed as T-Cell Lymphoma was revealed. At the time, forgetting the Lymphoma, I was not aware of how ill I was, even after the operation and before the cancer diagnosis. I am convinced will power, that I was not aware of at the time and my belief in Positive Mental Attitude pulled me from the brink, without me being really aware.
It was only when I was allowed home that I realised what poor shape I was in physically. My weight had dropped to 10 st 9 lbs, positively skeletal for me from my usual 21st 10/13st 5 lbs normal levels. My skin was horrible and dry like a lizard and what looked back at me from the mirror was something I did not recognise. My wife moisturised me totally each day for several weeks and gradually Ibecame what I felt as human once more and even began to put on a few pounds in weight.
The diagnosis of T-Cell did not, strangely phase me as much as my wife and son who were with me at the point of delivery. My first thought was "Can we start treating it tomorrow?".That was not ,of course possible,as I needed to go to various departments for tests, as we chronicled in the hubs. This was my next worst time, because I knew the tumour had free reign inside me and Ihad no soldiers fighting it there on my behalf.
Thus, the day Chemo started was no ordeal, but a relief. Now we were really at war! I have since been fortunate in experiencing only comparatively minor side effects, and though they are a nuisance they were manageable and covered by the thought that they were involved in helping, not hindering me in the fight.
Contact with family and friends, both physical and via e-mail was a key element in stiffening the resolve of PMA in me. I cannot stress enough the importance of PMA to the patient. Personal belief, confidence and having goals to aim for towards happier days is, in my opinion. a vital constituent of treatment, in that it is within the control of the patient, whilst the medics control the chemicals in what is a clear and working partnership.
A previous GP of mine stressed the importance of listening to your own body and Ihave followed his advice for years. Thus as Chemo progressed I listened as my body told me we were on the right track day by day as I felt stronger, albeit with the odd low energy days that must be anticipated under Chemo.I developed a feeling of confidence, but not complacency which carried me through right up to the Consulting room last Thursday. Even so, actual confirmation, from those who know brings a feeling it is difficult to describe. Iwas not emotional, not that Iwould have minded if Ihad been, but lifted and strangely satisfied that what my body had been telling me was now both justified and confirmed. My wife also surprised me at her containment of emotion, though I know she struggled somewhat. Her efforts played a big part in my journey back to well being.
So, looking back it has, to date been a tumultuous journey of 110 days of highs, lows, fears and anticipations, facts and fantasies. Yes! I could have done without it but they say that, that which does not kill you makes you stronger. They may well be correct, for strangely perhaps, I do feel stronger and maybe more focused now on the future than before, though time alone will tell.
The treatment continues and I approach this with enthusiasm as well as confidence. We have won the war but we now must win the peace. So 2 more Chops starting Friday, another CT Scan to then be arranged and then a decision on any future high dose Chemo to seal things off are the Agenda. All this and Christmas to look forward to. Thank heavens they got to that bowel perforation in time back in June.