So, the good news, I had my final scan and I'm in remission. Its taken a while for it to sink in. I don't know if I ever wholly believed I had cancer in the first place, I just went on autopilot, got through the treatment and got to where I am now.
I have had my last chemotherapy session and I hope, I pray, I never have to have it again. Towards the end I started to fear going in, so much so I would be physically sick beforehand.
Don't get me wrong, chemo wasn't awful, it wasn't fun either but you get through it, the drugs these days are better than they ever have been so you get less side effects, I just had had enough by the end. I was one of the lucky ones though, I only had six months of treatment, some have much more and with far worse results.
Once chemo was done, there wasn't really any time to celebrate because as soon as I was better I started two weeks of radiotherapy. To keep the cancer at bay, for good.
Everyone had said compared to chemo radiotherapy was a walk in the park. How wrong they were. I think in my case anyway. I had to have a mask/mould made and fitted for my head which held me down to, essentially, an operating table, so that when I had radiotherapy I didn't move and it zapped me in the right place.
The whole experience was horrific, I'm not hugely claustrophobic but I think anyone having a mask, a really tight mask, that you can hardly breathe out of, over your head and fixed to a table for 10-15 minutes, would find it all quite traumatic. As I did.
But you have to zone out. At the end of the day, you don't have a choice. Either have the treatment or risk cancer coming back. On the plus side, you don't feel radiotherapy at the time, its painless, my issue was more with the mask I had to wear as opposed to the treatment itself.
I had radiotherapy every day for two weeks. And I would cry before and after. Towards the end I got quite sick so would be throwing up before and after too.
Thinking about it now makes my stomach turn but you find the inner strength to do it because you have to. The hospital team put you at ease, I couldn't fault them at UCH, they are so supportive and understanding and work with you to ensure your happiness, as happy as you can be anyway.
I probably sound like a drama queen! I'm just so grateful its over. The side effects were not pleasant, as I had to have radiotherapy on my neck where my lymph glands were, it meant my throat was, essentially burnt, I am fortunate I only had two weeks of treatment as two weeks later, I am starting to recover. Some people have months of side effects to deal with.
Radiotherapy continues working once the actual treatment is finished. It attacks the bad and good cells, killing them. Your body then repairs itself but as such you get tired in the process. I have been exhausted.
I ate like an eight-year-old - living off spaghetti shapes, ice lollies and Angel Delight. I could hardly swallow and naturally lost quite a bit of weight. Which I wasn't going to complain about as it was needed, the chemo drugs, namely the steroids, had piled the pounds on.
Now, its strange. Treatment over. Its been such a big part of my life, I have to adjust to going back to 'normal', whatever that is. I'll go back to the hospital in a few weeks for a follow up appointment, then will go back every few months for further check ups.
And so, back to the real world. I am going to start work in a few weeks. I haven't worked for over six months and I'll admit, I am quite scared. I'm excited on one hand as am desperate to get out of the house, to use my brain and be back doing things but I don't know what this has all done to my mental state.
I had counselling at the hospital, they said, I'd never go back to my 'old self' but I guess a 'new improved version'. I think anyone who has had cancer always will live in a little bit of fear it will come back. And I, like everyone else who has had it, mustn't let it take over my life but at the same time, that feeling won't go away.
I want to be strong and live life to the full. I've already started planning the holidays and adventures I want to have. I want to personally thank everyone that has helped me in some way over this journey, I couldn't have done it without the support and love of friends and family.
They say if the cancer hasn't come back in two years that is, of course, a good sign, if it hasn't come back in five then its unlikely to.
All in all, I am a lucky, grateful, cancer survivor and I hope it stays that way.
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