Well, I did it. A whole four weeks of daily radiotherapy is finished! At 11am I walked out of the St Luke’s Cancer Centre after the last of my 20 zappings, feeling rather odd. The last of the three big chunks of treatment – chemo, surgery and radio ga ga – is over.
I don’t think it’ll hit me for some time that life doesn’t revolve around treatment anymore, that it’s not all about cancer now. Me and DH celebrated by taking the kids with us for pink fizz and amazingly good slabs of grass-fed beef at the new Argentinian steakhouse in town. (I didn’t get my small children drunk, obvs. They had juice and burgers.)
It’s not completely over, of course. I had the eleventh of 17 herceptin drips yesterday, and will continue to have those every three weeks until 1 December. And in three weeks I’ll probably be going back on the tamoxifen for five years (and hopefully I won’t feel like I’m going to kill someone this time).
And there’s the small matter of the breast reduction op to even the old knockers up, which will be Novemberish. But all the really big stuff, the actual hardcore caaancer fucking, is pretty much done and dusted. Go me! Whoop whoop!
Ouch. I just whooped too hard and bashed the boob. It’s sore, you know. After 15 whole breast radiotherapy treatments and five targeted boosters where the tumours were, The Tit In Question is pretty red and uncomfortable. The skin hasn’t broken, yet, although the radiation will continue working for another week or so and it’ll get worse before it starts healing. It’s like very bad sunburn, really. Or like I’ve dipped that most tender bit of me in a vat of hot oil.
The New Nipple looks particularly odd. It’s dark, swollen, shiny (WTF?) and looks a bit depressed. As would you if you’d been battered by radiation for days on end, I suppose. Still, it should all settle down and perk up (literally, I hope) in the next few weeks. I’m using calendula lotion and Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream on it, which helps enormously (this is not an NHS recommendation, you won’t be surprised to hear, but it was developed for burns before becoming a beauty must-have, and is my Top Tip for dealing with your tits being zapped).
Anyway, I’m sure plenty of champers will be imbibed this weekend, not just to celebrate the end of the bad things, but also my beautiful nieces’ first and fourth birthdays, and my darling daughter’s fifth. So I will get to see all of my family, and most of my friends, over the next few days, and I’m sure there will be plenty of tears, hugs and toasts all round.
There’s other stuff afoot, too: I bought my first ever laptop, a shiny red Dell number, and have started writing The Novel. I don’t hang about, you know. I’ve got a great idea (I think. I hope) although I’m starting to realise I’ve set myself quite a tricky task with the premise of the story. I was inspired to just get on with writing the damn thing by Stephen King’s On Writing, quite the most brilliant, clever, funny, true book on creating popular fiction, which you must read if you have ever even considered writing a novel. And me and DH have a little house project bubbling away on the back burner, which I will tell you about another time.
I’ve just picked up an email. My wonderful Pops, whose birthday we will be celebrating on the very day of my last herceptin treatment, has written down his own thoughts about what it’s been like for him since I was diagnosed last October, to join my mummy’s guest post. It made me cry, of course, and I thought you’d like to see it:
‘What it’s been like being Pops.
I’m sorry it’s taken so long. It’s not easy you know, writing – not for me, anyway. Takes ages to start, just like my old banger. My old banger and I have a lot in common; it regularly suffers from a flat battery and I suffer from a flat brain. It could be a state of abalienation. Just from time to time both of us need fustigating. Also the worry is does anyone give a shit what you have to say anyway.
Shocking does not describe it. It can’t. That unspeakably awful word CANCER. The word no one wants to hear. Not if it concerns you. But my beautiful darling daughter had to.
Stressed out about your job? Stressed out about your car? Stressed out about your neighbours? Stressed out about your kids? Well, I can’t take you seriously. Welcome to the world of cancer (and you will need the courage to meet it).
MajMaj had the courage to meet it. Her indomitable spirit, her cheerfulness, a cheerfulness that took me by surprise sometimes. I had to remind myself that she was suffering from cancer. But then that is our daughter.
The initial thought is, of course, why? Why my daughter. It’s not fair, she’s got two lovely children and a loving husband and she’s so young. It’s just not fair. But since when has life always been fair? I don’t want to say what my lovely wife has already covered and anyway she describes it better than I ever could.
When I first heard the news my first thought was that I just wished I could swap places. I could not bear to think of my darling daughter having to go through the months of treatment.
At times like these MajMaj needed a lot of support from family and friends and she is lucky to have so many wonderful friends. I know some of them and apologies for not knowing all of your names (but you know who you are). My special thanks would have to go to J and S, MajMaj’s truly dear friends. I wish I had friends like that. So a huge thanks to you all for your support. At times like these people’s kindness restores one’s faith in human nature.
And now it is almost over. Maja will be alright.’
My darling Pops is right, of course. I am truly blessed with an amazing family and bloody fantastic friends. Thank you all for holding my hand during this arduous process of giving cancer the finger. And now, if you don’t mind, some champagne is demanding my attention. Na zdrowie!
You are amazing and hearing your Dads words I can see why. You’re obviously deeply loved darling lady. So so proud of how you dealt with all you’ve been through and now the nasty treatments are passed and you can look forward to the end of the year and being you again. Sending a lovely brave lady a HUGE hug and by gum give one to that lovely daddy of yours from me too. He sounds just fab. Xxxxx
A beautiful post. You’ve come a long way and shown such grace and dignity in your adversity. Love and hugsxxxx
Fantastic! So pleased for you & your wonderful family & friends. :)) I’m just back in Shetland after my last chemo!! Woop woop!! x
I watched my favourite ‘Brothers and Sisters’ some weeks back and there was a great line delivered by the ever suffering, ever devoted matriach. She had a new chance in life to do all the things she never quite got round to and I thought of you. I have the line in bold print near me at all times:
‘It is never to late to be what you might have been’
We have all learnt from your past year and been reminded that life is too short to dwell on what might have been or what may be in the future. We just have to grab it. You know very well how much I struggle to put that theory into practice like many others but one look at your smiling face and I get a good sharp kick.
You really are and will remain my inspiration to just be. To live for now. Bravely, boldly, beautifully.
Thank you for that.
Completely choked up here, as per usual. You and your family are amazing. Just amazing. I started reading your blog when you first started because I lived in Guildford for 13 years. I am sure I’m not the only reader who feels thay have been on a journey with you. So thrilled you can now relax a lot more and focus on the future. Hope it’s an amazing one. You deserve it.
BTW, I’ve just bought Stephen King’s book too and do you know, you have inspired me to go off and read it.
A beautiful post, shining with optimism, emotion and humour. Sending you warm sunny wishes for the brightest future 🙂 xx
What a milestone. The journey will continue, but you will take all this strength you’ve gained from this exp with you.