I feel a little like this picture at the moment. Not, sadly, bioluminescent on a Maldivian beach but definitely glowing in the dark. I have had so many CT scans and MRI scans in the past year that I’m quite sure you could see me coming on a dark night. And yes, the knowledge gained from those scans means that I will be starting another course of chemotherapy in early February. I feel oddly relaxed about it at the moment although I am quite sure I will feel differently when the time comes. But that’s for then. For now I have a month in New Zealand to look forward to.
I have known since the beginning of July that the cancer was returning, picked up by a jump in the CA125 blood marker. It had pootled along at round about 18 since my last lot of chemo but increased to just over 30 in July. Anything below 30 is treated as normal but the measurement had doubled and the rate of increase suggested something was happening. We waited until September for a scan – no rush, enjoy the summer first, said Melanie, the oncologist – and sure enough there were two small areas of things that shouldn’t be there. Meanwhile, the CA125 marched on and up to a hundred and something. Another scan last week and the two small areas are now measurable – but there aren’t any more, so that’s a good thing. And they’re not causing any problems yet, so that’s also a good thing. And there’s a very close eye being kept on them, another good thing.
We’re heading off south and east in search of Vitamin D on Christmas Day, all four of us. We’ll be diving on the Poor Knights on Hogmanay and New Year’s Day. The boys will come home for the start of the university term whilst Iain and I explore South Island in a camper van for another fortnight. We come home at the end of January and then it will be time to deal with this cancer. We could have left it longer – there is still no rush, says Melanie, and there is clearly nothing happening fast. I still have no symptoms and am unlikely to develop any in the next couple of months, I believe. They don’t like to treat too soon because it doesn’t really improve the outcome and they can run out of options for treatment. It seems counter-intuitive, I know, but there is plenty of evidence to support that. And, as Melanie said to me in September, I am too well for chemo which really does destroy your quality of live for several months.
All that said, I feel ready now to deal with it. This has been hanging over us since the beginning of July and, as long as we can have our holiday first, I am keen to get on with the treatment before the summer. We head off on holiday with the oncolgist’s blessing, her email address and phone number, an emergency, just-in-case but unlikely-to-need course of steroids, and a promise to send her some photos. I am still pretty fit after last summer’s activities and that can only be a good thing. So we have a plan. Here we go again. Let’s do it.