Thursday, 30 September 2010

Chemo Six - Last One - who knows?

28th September

I was quite up; last chemo, blood clear, scan clear, but the words of that charming doctor changed everything, like a weather-forecaster on the evening news who announces calmly that an unstoppable meteorite is heading for earth, or at least my bit of it.

According to him I can expect two years at most before the cancer comes roaring back and if we are just looking at the statistics, as he does, less than five years of life. He has given me enough stress to trigger off any stray microscopic bits of disease.

I thought I would have no story to blog now, but instead I am left wondering whether to go and pester another doctor for reassurance, trying a woman as they tend to be more empathetic and not such ruthless show-offs, should I complain about him and enter a fight? I don’t know his name, on the phone when the nurse repeated it, it sounded like a gurgle in the throat. I don’t remember his appearance except that his face was like a wholemeal fruit scone.

Cardinal Newman said that everyone has a mission in life and should try to find it, is fighting with glib, supercilious doctors to be mine? I have no strength for it, and defeated at the start as I need them and what he says can probably be backed up by those good old stats.

A chemo ward is not like a concentration camp when you know you are going to die so you get stuck in and try to blow up the crematoria, we need these doctors of death as they are the only people who can offer any hope at all.

Hope? Well I had that, it was like a small, gusting wind, an erratic zephyr inside, until scone face punched it flat.

29th of Sept.

Slept quite well but as soon as I got up on my last chemo day, I remembered that according to stats, I will be back there for more perhaps within a year, and I have a life expectancy of about five years.

Did some crying in the shower. These are tears of shock, of having to adjust rapidly, not those deep agonising tears of despair often to be heard emanating from shower units all over the country. Heard on the Today Programme, about a report conducted by Relate the marriage guidance people and TalkTalk the mobile company, about how unhappy and unfilled most middle aged people are. I don’t feel bad about my life; the writing and the painting have come back to me with renewed vigour, I am not sad, just knocked off balance by that smiling, brown faced bully.

Need to change my future plans too – in fact all plans on hold. I was going to buy a new car and was looking at the Vauxhall “life time warranty,” for cars doing under 100,000 miles, that is now pretty much a cert! I was going to buy a very basic model as I am trying to save money to move, sometime after a policy comes up in 2012, but I can’t make plans like that now.

Rang the hospital to find out about the message they’d left the night before, and mentioned to the nurse that I had been upset the day before, and wanted to speak to another doctor, preferably a woman as they seem more empathetic. She said she would mention this quietly to the lady doctor on duty. The one I saw previously, whom I liked has now left.

Before I set off for the hospital I prayed for a short while, asking God to send me an angel pretty damn quick, someone to help me as I was at such a loss, unable to cope with this new situation; thinking I might be cured but being told this was next to impossible.

My two angel friends Chris and Melissa were waiting for me when I arrived, but in Garry I was told I could only have one guest as there was such little room in the corridor/clinic. They worked out a shift system between them.

Rather than mention it quietly, the young nurse had announced what I said in a full staff meeting including all the doctors. This seemed to set up a bit of a flurry. While I was getting the canula stuck in my arm, a Spanish looking woman doctor, with a large silver crucifix round her neck came over. I told her quickly what had been said. She said, “I have no words for you about this as I was not there, but he was behaving professionally and a lot of patients would welcome that.”

Worse, she said that Proff. Gabra, the head man, he of “this is a Rotweiller not a poodle,” back in May when I first got my results, said he wanted to see me in his office on Tuesday. No thank you, I do not want to hear any more statistics telling me I must die, and soon.

I saw a Russian woman looking at me cynically. Her cancer has returned after less than a year, but they never removed it all in the first place. No doubt she thought I was screaming out denial about my own condition.

Then Loretta Oliver strode in, the mighty woman who has been ill since 2007, who helps to run a charity called Ovarian Cancer Action, as well as running a home and being a mother to two young children.

I told her what had happened. She looked horrified. At his words, only between two and four percent of women do not have cancer recurring, which means that about 98 percent do, she looked appalled. “The figure is 50 percent of women returning,” she said, and she went off to find him, and challenged him.

She said he backed down and admitted that his figure was wrong.

She didn’t ask him the interesting question of WHY he said all that to me. In 2007, her GP told her husband that she would be dead within six months. Doctors, do they just go mad and start to hate their patients? “Inappropriate,” was the word Loretta used to describe both these events.

She was my angel and as soon as she spoke to me, with that 50 percent my spirits went up. Scone face knocked me off balance and she righted me.

Before I left Nurse Eileen took my hand and stroked it. “I never want to see you here again,” she said very quietly. She could not have said anything sweeter.

Now I have so much work to get on with – on, on.

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