Huffpost UK Lifestyle
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Ismena Clout Headshot

How It Feels When Secondary Breast Cancer Treatment Ends: So This Is It

Posted: Updated:

So it's happened then. The moment I have spent the last three and a half years running away from has happened. The moment when the doctor says the chemotherapy isn't working anymore and there are no more options left. The moment when you are signed off to let nature take its course.

There are still bits and bobs that will be done; I'll still have my bone drug and any radiotherapy that will help control symptoms and ease pain, but after that - nothing. Phrases like 'the disease load is too great now' echo in my head and pour ice into my heart.

There were two immediate emotions that hit me after the chat; the first is the obvious utter shock and heartbreak. Complete disbelief that this is actually happening to me. This is my life, this is now the beginning of the end. I'm actually going to die. No more talking around it, no more sugar coating it so people aren't scared off, this is actually reality.

Then there is a surprising second emotion. And that is one of relief, of calm. This is it, no more running, no more ifs, whens, buts and maybes, this is it. I can move forward in the knowledge that it's time to live as much and as well as I can. No rehearsals, as if I don't do it now I never will. I can just get on with life again.

As I've had 17 rounds of chemotherapy in eight months it's no surprise that my body is knackered, my bloods levels at the floor and energy non existent. While we thought the chemo might be working, it was all worthwhile. I lived from sofa to bed and was as careful as possible to make sure I was always just healthy enough for more chemotherapy.

Now though, it's a different story. Now it's about my quality of life - and the constant poisoning is over. I'm hoping to get a few months where I bounce back, a few months where my body feels better as the chemotherapy clears my system, which will override the growing symptoms of the cancer progressing. It would be nice to get two months of fun in, and boy, do I have fun planned!

There has been a volcano of organising going off since I had the news. Eight months of suppressed plans have happened at once. I have countless trips booked with various friends and family from a trip to the Amalfi Coast, travelling on the Orient Express to Paris with a stay at the George V hotel, a week at Lake Como staying in the roof top suite of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, and trips to Barcelona and Burgh Island.

I've always been a huge advocate of people having their 'list for life'. Well, with time so against me, my list has become the 'f&%k it list'. No expense spared, it's about doing it in style and in as much comfort as possible. I'm treating myself to gorgeous clothes, as I have a much reduced body size and I've been wearing track suits for eight months, so it's about time I look gorgeous!

I'm booking as many Michelin starred restaurants as possible. And if my appetite starts to wane I'll be pushing for more steroids so I can keep enjoying food! It's one of my main pleasures in life and I want to enjoy fine dining to the end! So you'll see me in Sex and the City style dresses in the best places in London. It's all about living the dream.

But there's still one thing; there is still a HUGE amount of uncertainty. I still don't know what is going to happen next and how. I still don't know timings, as no one really does. So the relief I felt was very short lived and once again I'm wracked with fear. Desperately running towards my fun plans, but scared at what condition I'll be in when I get there. Will I be well enough to really enjoy them? And they aren't all about me, each trip and experience has a relative and friend involved and they are as much about making memories for them as they are about me having fun. I don't want to let them down...

I do have one big goal in mind, one date I am going to fight for and that's the 7th September. My 40th birthday. I want to have the party to end all parties, I want to hire a country estate and have my friends and family to stay for a long weekend of relaxing, chatting and spending time together, with a party on the Saturday night to celebrate me.

I know that with the disease as heavy as it is now, September is a long way away. But I'm going to do all I can to get there in the best shape I can. Come on body, give me this one last thing...

For more information about secondary breast cancer, please visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk/secondary

Around the Web

What is secondary breast cancer? : Cancer Research UK ...

Secondary breast cancer - Macmillan Cancer Support

I have secondary breast cancer | Breast Cancer Care

Secondary breast cancer | Breast Cancer Network Australia

Secondary Breast Cancer | Breast Cancer Campaign

My Secondary Breast Cancer Treatment: It's Time to Let Nature Take Its Course

Yorkshire hospitals in pledge to improve services for patients with breast cancer

Campaigners battle for Scots women to get new breast cancer drug

Eli Lillys Cyramza Misses Primary Goal in Liver Cancer Study

Cate Edwards: A steadfast daughter to John Edwards, despite pain and scandal