Today’s blog is brought to you by the Belgian bun. For what reason am I bestowing this honour upon this humble concoction of bread, sultanas and icing? Well it has become tradition (I blame Claire Galloway for setting this addiction in motion) for every visit to the Churchill hospital to be accompanied by a trip to the League of Friends café and the purchase of a Belgian bun. Whilst a visit to the hospital tends to be accompanied by less pleasant occupations such as giving blood samples, drinking litres of contrast fluid, having my body pumped full of poison for 3 odd hours etc., the consumption of the Belgian bun is a highlight, something I actively look forward to – a glacier-cherry topped bundle of sunshine in amongst the rain clouds.
The Belgian bun was on stand-by yesterday when Sam and I hit the Churchill for the long-awaited appointment with the consultant to go through my scan results. Waiting for the appointment to come around was hard enough; it was then made harder still by an excruciatingly long wait in the waiting room. After an hour and five minutes (which we attemped to kill by feigning interest in the Guardian food supplement and various trashy magazines) the receptionist sidled up and wrote in big letters on a whiteboard “Dr Weaver running 1 hour late”. No really, we would never have guessed! Another ten minutes later and we finally made it into the consultation room, by this point on the brink of nervous exhaustion.
The news, thank god, was that we’d been anxiously hoping for – the chemo is working and the tumour in my bowel has shrunk ‘significantly’ (words of the consultant). The tumours in my liver have reduced, although not as impressively as the ones in the bowel. The plan of action remains the same – another 4 cycles of chemo to keep on nuking the b*ggers. We were initally a little disheartened to learn that – at least for now – there is no plan to operate at the end of the chemo cycles, which means whatever is left at the end of the chemo will stay in situ. In our naivety, it felt like we were being denied the closure of cutting all the little b*stards out; the idea of having to spend the rest of my life with the aliens still inside, living forever in the shadow of the aliens coming back to life was/ is scary. Facing up to your own mortality is never easy.
However, one Belgian Bun and two very constructive phone calls later (one with Richard Baskerville, super GP, and one with Sam’s mum Ann, who’s gone through the cancer ordeal twice now) we were starting to recalibrate. Whether you get chemotherapied, radio therapied or sliced open as part of your cancer treatment, there will always be alien hanger-oners. Whilst in an ideal world you could just get the hoover out and spring clean all your innards and be done with it, it just doesn’t work like that. The end-game is reducing the cancer cells to a level your body can stay on top of. And hopefully it will continue to do so for a nice long chunk of time – giving you plenty of opportunities to get run over by a bus, fall off a mountain-top, accidently set light to yourself…
Recovering our sense of perspective, we were able to appreciate we’d received the best news we could have hoped for – I am a ‘positive responder’; the chemo is doing its job; the aliens are on the retreat – cause for celebration surely. Unfortunately by this point we were too mentally and physically exhausted to do much besides limp home and collapse.
This morning the sun was shining and despite the fairly horrendous weather prognosis (sadly the BBC weatherman doesn’t share my perennial optimism) I decided to make the most of it. Armed with a double chocolate chip confection from Nash’s bakery, I headed out on my bike to see Peter and Lauren at Shutt Velo and had a thoroughly good ride and natter over coffee and cake.
La vita e bella – life is beautiful and the alien, for all its faults, has taught me to make the most of it. I can say, without irony, this is the happiest I’ve ever been.