I don’t really know how to start this or where I am going with it, I just feel it is something that needs to be cleared up!
Everyone responds differently to life-changing news such as the “you have cancer” bomb that exploded into my life about a month ago. It is impossible to know what to say, and I want to be clear that I was never offended by anything anyone said (this isn’t having a dig at anyone)!
To the point now: a couple of times people have asked how serious what I have is and I am at a loss to know how to respond.
The words ‘Leukaemia’ and ‘cancer’ seemed fairly black and white to me! We think if I had carried on as usual, started college and not had a blood test eventually I could have caught an infection that would become septic and led to serious consequences, sometimes as bad as a coma or organ failiure. Hopefully if that had happened we would have got to the doctors fast enough, they would then give me the right treatment and pick up on the whole leukaemia thing! Interestingly I did have an infection a few weeks prior to diagnosis. Two red lines tracked very quickly up from my wrist to my elbow, and the pain got to my armpit. i began to feel sick and clammy and couldn't join in with my sailing camp activites. We could see that the lines were following my veins but couldn't really make sense of why it was happening- we had no idea what was coming less than a month later! At this point the doctor agreed to see us on an emergency appointment and the antibiotics they put me on cleared the infection up. Who knows how life would be different if she had taken a blood test those few weeks earlier, or what would have happened if that red line of inflammation reached my heart?!
As I understand it, after this first ‘Induction’ phase they aim to have you in remission, where there are no cancerous cells left in the body but they continue giving chemotherapy to ensure they get every last cell and prevent it from returning. My treatment then lasts for two years and the second year is mainly out-patient care. I am not entirely sure what this entails as it is so far off but it would be going in to hospital only when IV or blood products are required.
I will be checked carefully in the future as my risk of developing a different cancer is 6% higher than the general population for every 20 years and we have a history of breast cancer in the family. My current steroids have been found to cause a hip condition that leads to a hip replacement in 5 cases out of 100 but working out the likelihood of this happening to me is enough to make your brain explode. Plus I’d rather be cured of cancer and have a hip replacement than the alternative. My fertility will be slightly reduced but as long as I don’t leave it too long it is all up to chance!
I guess the idea of this post was to reassure. I am doing well and in true Gloria Gaynor spirit I WILL SURVIVE!