Those that have the burden of dealing with cancer , will know the roller coaster of emotions that comes every time your results are due from your latest MRI. It doesn’t seem to get any easier. I’m no professional yet and have only lived with this unwanted lodger for 14 months, but after 4 sets of results it hasn’t got easier.
As your result dates gets closer, the nerves and anxiety starts to take hold. To combat this I went for a lads weekend in Amsterdam. This was the weekend prior to my results. It did the trick, sinking a few beers in 28 degree heat was perfect .
But it was back to reality and Tuesday loomed. My alarm bells started ringing when my appointment was brought forward. It was only by a few hours so I put that to one side. I phoned the profs(my surgeon) secretary to confirm the appointment .
She told me it had been brought forward as Anna (my oncologist) had just got back from holiday and wanted me in earlier . I get on really well with Anna and always run over my slot. But then panic set in as I was informed that the clinic would not of started and the Prof also wanted to be there . The prof never comes to my meetings, unless treatment is planned. I convinced myself that it could be good news. Maybe that Terry (tumour) had shrunk or vanished due to the regimented protocol id been on for over a year , true id had 2 slip ups in that year with alcohol but one of them was Amsterdam the other was at Twickenham for an epic 6 nations game against France .
I didn’t sleep well at all that night, but morning soon arrived D Day was here.
My appointment was 13.15hrs. As always Sam (my wife), sister and mum came with me . My support and back up Team.
We arrived a good half hour early at The Walton Centre. I always did this to save any unnecessary stress, which would kick off a host of my side effects but that’s a blog in progress.
I booked in at the touch screen checked in and a few appointments popped up for me. I thought that’s strange, my heart rate began to rise. As is tradition, we got a coffee in the bistro and waited . I saw Anna who waved, but she looked uneasy. We waited a good 15minutes over my appointment time . Bare in mind the clinic hadn’t started, there was no delay.
Eventually the Prof turned up and I was called into room 1. We walked in just like the very first time Anna and prof sat in front of me . we all sat down and Anna asked how I had been , I proceeded to tell her about my worries from my phone call with the secretary . Now usually I talk and talk, as I am scared of the results. In that moment everything is ok ,( well as well as they can be with cancer) so by delaying the results I’m still ok . Anna will usually shut me up and say look your scans are fine Terry is stable no activity. But I kept talking , she was breathing heavily and I could see her eyes were glazed, so she was either drunk or about to cry. We will go with the later. I looked back to my sister and mouthed “this is bad you ready.” The Prof span the computer screen round and I was hit with a sledge hammer . My head started spinning and my heart sank.
There were two scans next to each other, I knew the left hand side picture was of December, a tiny jelly bean on the centre line of the brain, on the right there was now a golf ball sized looking mass in the same place. I new it was not the original picture, as that was huge and was bright white with the dye.This was not my first rodeo, I new that if the dye holds and is white its a low grade tumour, if its black it means its possibly a fast growing cancer as the dye won’t old in the mutated cells. The new scan and lump was black.
I said “please don’t tell me that was my scan 3 weeks ago” pointing at the black mass on the screen.
“Unfortunately it is” , the Prof said. My head started spinning as my world that was finally getting back on track came crashing down. Tears began to stream down my face, but I held it together as I asked “What’s the plan” . Not in a million years did I expect the next sentence “It’s going to be surgery again, you will be coming in Sunday” A tidal wave of emotion washed over me , I placed my head in my hands and began to cry. “I can’t do this again , I f#####g give up” I sobbed. Anna straight away jumped in saying how well I have done this passed 14 months, the positivity and enthusiasm is remarkable. She stated she uses me as an example to others as its rare to have someone in front of her like me. But that wasn’t much comfort .
The Prof kept saying “We can’t bury our heads in the sand” usually id let that go over my head, but it was like a red rag to a bull. “IM NOT THATS WHY I ALWAYS ASK FOR YOU TO BE STRAIGHT” as I have wrote about in an earlier post . The prof isn’t good in social situations , doesn’t pick up on social cues that’s why he worked so well with Anna. He was the best guy in the UK to have working his magic inside my head and Anna was the caring , more approachable one more concerned with the emotional side of cancer.
“After surgery what’s next” I asked . Anna replied “its probably , going to be an add on” I looked strangely at her, the Prof told me that add ons, would be likely radiotherapy then chemotherapy . I fired question after question at them, again he said “we can’t bury our head in the sand ” in my head I screamed “IM F#####G NOT THTS WHY IM BLOODY ASKING YOU, SHOW SOME BLOODY COMPASSION THIS IS MY LIFE WE ARE TALKING ABOUT” but what came out was “I KNOW THATS WHY IM ASKING” well he is my surgeon need to keep him sweet. Once treatment was discussed he left. I chatted with Anna, even laughed at how I had nearly got my driving licence back. only another year to wait hey.
She told me I would need a pre op examination , another MRI, bloods, urine samples all ready for Sunday. Before I left she took hold of my hand and said “DONT GIVE UP , KEEP GOING BUT ENJOY LIFE DONT BE SO STRICT OR HARD ON YOUR SELF” I smiled thanked her and walked off to the MR scanning area. I lay in the scanner for 45mins , tears rolled down my cheeks as my thoughts turned dark & morbid once again.
I had my bloods taken , Pre op exam and as quick as I was there I was leaving. I sat in the car we all were in shock noone could of imagined or predicted that news . I found it a hard pill to swallow. But the fight and positivity I usually oozed was gone. I feared surgery and the road that lay ahead , I new how hard , painful and soul destroying it was last time. To go through it again was going to be longer harder more testing and it terrified me to my very core.
I felt as though I had jinxed us the week earlier, saying to Sam that we just needed to get July out the we. I had weddings, trips to Amsterdam , my retirement party and of course results of the latest MRI. Everything would have settled down by august. Life was looking positive and rosy.
What have I done in a previous life to get this sort of run of bad luck. I didn’t think this year could get any worse than last, but it was already worse. Not just with these results but with the passing of my nan and the loss of our 3rd child due to an ectopic pregnancy the day before we flew to vegas, to watch our cousin fight on the UFC at the MGM Grand..
But as a very close friend said to me this week ” IT’S BETTER TO KNOW THE UGLY TRUTH, THAN BELIEVE OR FOLLOW THE BEAUTIFUL LIE”
My Mum, sister and Sam asked if I would mind to moving my retirement party forward to save cancelling it. I told them that was a good idea. It gave my sister and mum something to take their mind off the looming road ahead. Plus I wanted to say thank you to my work colleagues , friends and family for the overwhelming support we had received. I maybe unlucky but I am certainly lucky to have such an amazing support network.
Move forward to Friday and my mum and sister had arranged an amazing party, which was attended by hundreds of people which was amazing on only 3 days notice. It was brilliant to see so many faces old and new . My ex boss, mentor, friend cliff Barr gave the speech about me and my career, which went down amazingly . My mum had got up prior to say thanks, but had struggled with her emotions as she expressed her undying gratitude .
I gave my speech which was from the heart . It went down well …. so I was told anyway. The gifts and cards I received were again overwhelming, proving how blessed I really was.
The odd drink and dance to the live band Bright side completed a night to remember.
Just one more day to go. But the fight and spirit had not returned I just couldn’t face the battle that awaited me. I needed to get my head and body into the game, fight, battle what ever you want to call this part of my Journey.
But I new or should say know that once its time to go down for surgery, it will be like my fighting days. I’d always suffer from nerves before a fight , Think what am I doing why are you putting yourself through this. But soon as my walk in music would kick in , boom I was in the zone ready to tear my opponent in half, nothing would stop me till my hand was raised in the air. Once again I new the cycle of emotions I was going through dealing with cancer . Id go low and morbid , face death in the face , give up, before giving myself a good talking to and snap out of it, hulk mode would be activated.
That brings me to this very second . Its 23.55hrs Sunday 19th July 2015. I’m sat in bed at Walton Neurological . reflecting on this insane week of lows and highs. I’m still not yet in the fight, still nervous of what awaits, but I know come tomorrow when my walkout music is played, nothing will stop me , I may have cancer but cancer doesn’t have to have me . This is my life and I control its destiny Terry may of dropped me in the last round but I will finish this fight victorious with my hand raised. I’ve shaved my head, ready for surgery. I keep catching my reflection in the mirror and for a split second I think who is that. My scar from my last surgery on show for all to see.
Terry I under estimated , he has a good chin and is stubborn I need to up my game for this next round.
Make sure you live your life fully, don’t just exist , reach out to your loved ones, take that holiday, do that course, work in a job you love, then your getting paid to do a hobbies. Don’t dwell on the past that’s depression , worrying about he future is anxiety . Live for today, live in this moment . Cut away the negative energy sappers and surround yourself with the ones you love and energy givers.
Right I’m off to bed, got one hell of a fight to prepare for. But with a smack head opposite me shouting , swearing and being slightly racist, whilst demanding everything I may warm up on him first.
Goodnight and remember ….. Behind every dark cloud the sun still shines bright xxxxx