Cancer Column: Grapefruits and Peas

As scan results start coming in and life back in the UK seems to be getting back to some level of normality, HISKIND’s Co Founder continues his blog series, documenting his life with cancer. You can read his other columns here.

As I type this, the ward I’m on is dark to help the three other guys with cancer get some rest, I have two hours thirty seven minutes left of chemotherapy cycle eleven, I can feel my fingertips become familiarly numb, feel my mind get foggier and my body feel poisoned again.

Since I returned from Proton Beam Therapy in America, I have completed two – almost three – more gruelling cycles of chemotherapy, with only three remaining now. Which means I’m getting there, I guess. Walking into hospital alone, armed with a heavy suitcase and freaked out mind is still one of the hardest parts of this all and chemo certainly doesn’t get any easier. Corridors are still painfully long, wards still smell as clinical as ever and chemo still hits me like a train.

It’s #WorldCancerDay today and, this week, I got my first scan results back since America. My treatment is working. The tumour I was diagnosed with was the size of a grapefruit and in 8 months of treatment, it’s now the size of a pea.

Seeing the size of the tumour really has put me in a better mindset. I really do know that this is transient now, that this is just a bump in the road and that, yes, this is almost over now. The past week or so has been a little rough to the mind. A nasty cough pulled the muscles around my kidneys and me still being a hypochondriac, expected the worst and feared a spread. Flavoured medicines to combat qualm after qualm are still just as bad as said qualms though. If it’s not aniseed, it’s some natural flavouring that makes your throat feel like a focaccia (and not in the good way). It’s been over a year now that I first felt the pain from a cancer I did not know I had.

I’m getting to that “cancer pro” stage on the ward I’m on. I’m nearing the end of chemotherapy and I’ve found more and more chemo first timers coming to chat to me about what to expect. One boy in particular, was only diagnosed five days ago and his sister keeps coming to sit with me for advice on what is about to happen to him and her. Remembering exactly how that was for me all those months ago really gives my ward its own little cycle. These newbies will go on to educate the cancer kids of tomorrow and so on and, in some sickening way, it’s quite nice to see.

I’ve also been working with the wonderful people at Macmillan for their #WorldCancerDay campaign on friendship.

This World Cancer Day goes out to my nurses in Birmingham, my radiologists in Florida, the guys and girls on the ward who I get to bitch about Doxorubicin and Vincristine over in the ward’s kitchen, to my doctor who speeds up my last few bags of chemo so I get to go home in time, to those taking to the streets to protest NHS cuts, the nurses who print out my articles and stick them in the staff room, to the pharmacists who make up my chemo and work colleagues at HISKIND who don’t look at me with sympathy as if I’m a grenade waiting to go off.

Things are looking up.