There have been a number of ironies over the last few months, some major and some minor. There was the 5 year ‘potentially cured’ check up, a new diagnosis at almost the same time of year to the day as the last, a secondary malignancy from the treatment that dealt with the first, the same nurse putting in the PICC line as six years ago.
On Saturday, I experienced another of the minor ironies. Unwrapping the Saturday Guardian supplements in Janine’s hospital room out tumbles the magazine landing face up on the bed with a cover picture of hundreds of bald people standing at supermarket checkouts under a headline ‘Cancer: The New Normal’. ‘Awkward’ as my kids might say.
I wasn’t sure I should read the article but I did and, if you are interested it’s worth a look. The writer, Siddhartha Mukkherjee, has just published (of all things) a history of cancer. The article is edited extracts from the book and the basic premise is …. well I shall leave you to find out should you want to. And please do only read it if you want to. Here’s the link http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/15/cancer-the-new-normal
If that’s the theory what about the practice. If I had written this yesterday, I would have said that Janine was through the first round of chemotherapy and, to borrow a boxing analogy, ahead on points. She had her last drug overnight on Saturday and, feeling very tired and queasy but well enough to travel, she opted for me collecting her and bringing her home yesterday afternoon.
That all changed late last night and the poor girl has been flat on the canvas for the last 24 hours being sick (or trying to) what seems like every half hour. Those who remember her experience last time will know what this means to her and we are just hoping it can be got under control. It’s been a day of chasing down anti – sickness prescriptions whilst waiting for our GP and District Nurse to come tomorrow to fit the anti sickness driver which worked so well before and stabilised everything. I need to thank our fantastic friend and ‘personal’ Macmillan nurse, the one and only Nicky McKean for going well beyond the extra mile this evening in helping get what we think Janine needs.
Looking further ahead, it should be that Janine has 17 days at home recovering before, blood tests and so on permitting, it’s back up to London for round two.
I have another picture for you to add to the balloon popping and chomping Pacman. Another friend of ours, Anne-Kirsti, was at UCLH on Friday and able to come and see Janine ( brilliant in itself). She said that the chemotherapy acts like a liquid poured over ice cubes to melt them. And, from what we can see, the lumps in Janine’s neck certainly have started to melt.
I haven’t been in the best frame of mind at periods today so I need to write down some things I am thankful to God for; GPs who stay late to give you prescriptions, out of hours phone lines, pharmacies that are fully stocked and within reach, clean water from a tap, a toilet that flushes, a house that is dry and heated, a bed to lie in, a car for getting where you want to be, anti sickness drugs, dettol, ice cubes (the real ones not the analagous ones), (again) the people who have done the work today that we should have been doing. I could go on - perhaps you could fill in the gaps.