I’m organising this blog post in a bit of a different format. It is currently 10:15am in the morning. I am setting off for the hospital at 11:15. My standard bloods appointment is at 12:05, then my appointment with the oncology team is at 13:00, where I will speak through the scan results. I thought I’d write a little bit now before I set off to capture how I am feeling and share a few thoughts, then I will write about the results later on.
Today is World Book Day. For some reason, I find myself identifying parallels in the universe a lot these days. In my ‘The 1%‘ blog post, I drew a parallel between the 1% movement and the statistic that 1% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive past the 10-year mark. Today, the parallel I have found is that it is World Book Day, and I will be receiving my first progress scan results today; I will then write about it in the blog and hope to eventually turn it into a novel. The novel may not be the exact story of what has happened to me, but it will certainly draw on my experiences. Today is a massive part of that experience.
At this point, it is worth highlighting my brother’s costume for World Book Day. He is a science teacher, and his department’s theme was Alice in Wonderland. Obviously, he dressed up as Alice, as you can see in the terrifying yet hilarious photo below. His face is a bit messed up as he fell off his bike at the weekend and had to go to A&E.
With regards to today’s scan, I’m feeling calm. I’ve had a lot of messages over the last 24 hours from people wishing me well, which has been really lovely. Thank you to everyone who has reached out! I’m in full stoic mode today, feeling very aware that the news is the news, and I can’t do anything to change it. It may just be easy to say that now as I am sat philosophizing about the situation, and perhaps it’ll be more difficult to put it into practice when I am sitting and listening to the news. It is definitely hard to put it into practice when I am waiting for my name to show up on the screen in the waiting room. This was the part of the process that broke me the first time I attended one of these meetings at The Christie. There had been too much waiting, it was an hour past my planned meeting time, and I just couldn’t keep off the weight of the situation. I had a bit of a breakdown in the office once we were in there and could feel the pressure building up in my head. That isn’t to knock The Christie’ they are running a very complex operation and balancing so many vulnerable people in one building. But the tardy appointments add another layer of stress to the process. Hopefully, now that I am aware that this is a risk, I’ll be able to manage it better today.
The headline is: the tumour has reduced in size! From 3.2cm to 2.1! The specialist also said that the tissue around the artery is looking healthy. We now have to wait for my case to be discussed at the next MDT meeting on Wednesday. There are surgeons in this meeting who will review it, decide whether I am ready for surgery, then come up with a plan for doing it (if that is the decision). I will then find out what has been decided on Thursday next week via a phone appointment. My tumour markers are also at a low of 264 apparently, which sounds a lot better than the 16,000 figure that they started at.
As the nurse told us, Anna had to clarify with her. “So this is really good news, right?” The nurse responded, “yes, it’s really good news,” before Anna burst into tears. We are both still in disbelief, really. I’m not even sure the news has sunk in for me. I’m so used to having a high wall up and trying to keep myself level-headed that I feel like I cannot quite enjoy such a positive outcome yet. Of course, I still don’t know for sure that I am surgery-ready yet, but we have all of the best signs there that I will be approved. Even if I wasn’t, the tumour has reduced dramatically, and the tissue around the artery is well on its way to being healthy, which will allow me to do surgery.
The next piece of good news is that they have delayed my chemotherapy treatment by a week to let my mouth settle down from the ulcers (and allow me to enjoy my birthday)! After I complained profusely and allowed her to look in my mouth with a light, she agreed that it would be good to give it some time to settle down. I think she actually felt sorry for me and wanted to provide me with some relief on my birthday weekend, which is fine with me. I’ll play the victim if it gets me what I want… like a petulant child.
There are so many people that I wanted to message directly. It is just too challenging to keep up with everyone I should message at the minute, though. Although it is amazing news, I feel like I need to keep myself grounded and focused. Even with the best-case scenario, there is still a major operation to go, a big recovery, and likely more chemotherapy. Then, assuming that all happens and there are no issues, there are the regular checks and the fear of the cancer returning. It is far from over, but it is terrific news that I will hold tightly to my chest! Thank you to everyone who reads the blog for all the support so far. To anyone dealing with cancer, I hope this brings you some hope in your fight. The lows really are awful, but I can now confirm that the highs are really incredible too!