It is a year ago today that B danced the funky chicken, a few feet from where I now sit. On that sunny day he performed a series of uncharacteristic gyrations that would herald the beginning of it all. A year of hospitalisation, brain surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy that has brought us to today – the day we received the results of B’s first post-treatment MRI.
I feel strange about this ‘anniversary’ – on one hand I can’t believe it’s been a whole year, but on the other I can barely remember our carefree cancer-free life.
Today started with our usual pre-appointment conversation, preparation of questions and sharing of macabre humour.
Me: What do you want to ask the Oncologist?
B: It would be good to know how long he thinks I will last.
Me: Last? Like a carton of milk?
B: Yes. An Expiry Date.
Me: Even a ‘Best Before’ date would be useful.
The German was his usual irritating self, but at least he doesn’t beat around the bush. The scan is the same as the last one. There is no evidence that the chemotherapy has done a thing to the remaining tumour. This isn’t the greatest news, although I hadn’t realised until today that Temozolomide is only effective in 25% of cases. I would have liked to have been provided with that statistic earlier, so I could readjust my expectations. Perhaps I was. I know I didn’t always absorb information in the early days.
The plan remains the same. Another scan 1 year after the end of radiotherapy (August) then every 6 months until ‘it’ re-awakens. As for how long B will ‘last’, The German cannot say. In some patients it returns in a year, or it could be 3, 5, 7… there is no way to tell. The renewed activity might be highlighted on a scan, or it could show itself via symptoms – seizures, behavioural changes, speech/movement problems etc. A catalogue of possibilities to watch out for.
The consultation ended with The German’s attempt to be avuncular: “You are well! You are normal! Live your life!” I may have done some involuntary eye-rolling at that point.
I’m feeling a bit dejected right now (can you tell?) but I know there is plenty to be positive about. The tumour is inactive. We coped with the past year and we will continue to cope with whatever comes our way. B can travel. He will return to work. ‘Normality’ is within reach. Long may it last.