Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Appointment

Janine had her scans today as planned and we travel up again tomorrow to get the results.  Well, I say the results, we are going to get a preliminary view and then there is a team meeting at which the detail of any future treatment will be worked out.  At least we will know what impact the chemotherapy has had and whether any future treatment is likely.

Up until yesterday, it had been a really good week for Janine.  She recovered sufficiently to spend three mornings in school marking books (I know, somehow you are not surprised), came to watch Ben play football on Saturday morning and inspired him to complete his hat trick (well that’s what she is claiming) and then spent the rest of the weekend baking and getting a birthday tea ready for my sister and the family.

That might just all have contributed, of course, to her feeling unwell, grumpy, tired and lethargic yesterday and today.  I dare say the prospect of the scans and tomorrow’s appointment may also have been factors.

I’m sure you can imagine what it is like waiting for one of these appointments and some of you will know the experience personally.  I don’t want to be over dramatic but I have been thinking back over the different appointments we have faced, trying I think, to place tomorrow in its history and context. 

The story began with an appointment with an Orthopaedic Consultant in Windsor.  It was a dark December afternoon and I thought we were going to see the back and hip pain Janine had been experiencing cured there and then with a bit of impromptu physiotherapy.  I’d been told during a medical that Janine’s health was causing me anxiety and that I needed to take a lead in getting the problems resolved.  I thought this was what we were doing.  Instead, the consultant seemed immediately concerned, sending us round the corner to get X-rays from the hospital and asking us to come straight back.  Within what was probably little more than an hour our lives were turned upside down and we knew that there was a tumour in Janine’s pelvis.  The journey had begun.

Next came an appointment at Wexham Park in Slough for the results of a biopsy.  It was nearer to Christmas, cold and wet and I remember driving there feeling as sick as I think I have ever felt as I wondered if we were going to hear that Janine had just months to live.  I remember Janine asking me not to let her die there on the cancer ward, coming away with no real understanding of what Janine had, buying pre chemotherapy drugs that were never used, the call later in the day to say the diagnosis had been wrong and  Janine’s tears as we heard ‘sarcoma’ and all that entailed. 

Months down the line came the appointment where we heard that amputation was the only option.  It was late on a Friday afternoon and we were sat in a dingy, dirty, poorly lit visitor’s room off the treatment ward at the Middlesex Hopsital.  On one level, it was perhaps the most significant moment of our lives in the last six years.  So much changed from that moment, though in reality it had been changing all along.  What I remember now is the rising sense of panic I felt on the train home, struggling desperately to come to terms with what we had been told, wanting to believe that this was all wrong, that it could not be right, that there would be a miracle and a reprieve.

Moving on we entered the world of the check up.  First 3 monthly, then six monthly and then what we thought would be annually.  Though each appointment meant less chance of the cancer returning, each seemed to become more difficult as we knew there was more to lose.  Each day seemed so ordinary yet I would be telling myself that it would be on just such an ordinary day that we would hear the worst.  There would be no warning, just white spots on an X ray.  We would drive back, me usually the more exhausted, calling and texting and knowing that we could breath again  - that there were at least a few more months of freedom.

Eventually, of course, it would not be at an appointment like this that we heard that cancer had returned.  The lumps in Janine’s neck were too much of a warning and by the time we went for the results of this biopsy we knew what we would be facing.  We were also more experienced and knew more of the world Janine would be re entering.  This appointment was marked by, well I guess a resigned efficiency.  We thought we knew what we needed to know, what we needed to ask and what the process would be.

Which brings us to tomorrow.  How do we feel ?  I don’t know and perhaps that’s best.  I’ve sensed some anxiety in both of us.  I know we have vacillated between believing this is all done and dusted and fearing that the positive prognosis was all wrong.  This time tomorrow we might be able to so some planning, to accept some outstanding invitations, to see if we can get to the Lakes for a weekend and somewhere near a beach in the summer. 

As above, I expect we will actually be faced with continuing uncertainty and planning will be on hold for a little longer.  Even if Janine can walk way tomorrow then we are back to the check ups.  More than that, I would be amazed if, even if the scans are clear of all traces of the disease, we were told that no one was suggesting any further treatment.  I am still a lawyer at heart.  We like ‘belt and braces’ and making sure and I am sure medics are the same.

What I do know for certain is that I will let you know and as soon as I can. 


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