Some of you will be following my school friend’s excellent blog called I Got The Good Cancer which details her experience as a Doctor with a Hodgkins lymphoma diagnosis. Where breast cancer has thousands of disease blog writers, Hodgkins Lymphoma bloggers are far fewer in number.
I was hoping, as everyone was that Mel’s triumphant journey at beating Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was nearly complete. But today she received results of a positive PET scan after six months of chemo, and after speaking with her on the phone I was a lost for words. I didn’t know what to say to her apart from “I am sorry”. In the course of our conversation I said some ridiculous things…
“You will get through the next phase!” and “Wow you might lose your hair with a more severe chemo and end up bald like me!” or ” Gee that cancer card can really get a workout now!”
How very lame of me! And since I actually had cancer, you would think I would have an inkling of what to say at times like these. But no.
To be honest, I was in a bit of shock and wandered aimlessly all day. I felt sucker punched. Gutted for her. Disappointed. Angry. I felt the urge to get in my car and drive several hundred kilometres with my kids to her house which wouldn’t have been a useful thing for anyone.
I can’t help her process this news or take away her disappointment. It’s not my cancer journey.
I never had to have an MRI or PET scan to see if the chemo I had was working or if the cancer was gone at the end of treatment. In Breast Cancer land, once treatment is finished you are sent on your merry way. Slice the cancer out, then treat with chemo and rads. Come back if you feel unwell or have symptoms for more than two weeks they say. Sure, there are the regular checkups with oncologists and surgeons just to see if your okay, listen to your lungs, feel the lymph nodes around the armpit and neck area, but thats about it. For many, there is massive anxiety when this active phase of treatment ends. For months you just stumble around trying to come to terms with what has occurred and what lies ahead scared by every little symptom. Then it settles down and you get on with life.
But with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma the treatment course is quite different depending on the stage of disease and the presence of symptoms, with regular PET scans to monitor if the chemo is working it’s magic and shrinking the masses.
It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to undergo six months of chemo and then discover it hadn’t worked as planned, after your family and friends are willing the results to be clear. In your heart of hearts you know that the metabolic activity of cancer will still be there because as an astute doctor you can feel the nodes in your neck growing.
And while feeling and sensing that the results you want aren’t the results you are likely to get, you have crazy people turning up to your final chemo session to give you a handmade T-shirt with rainbow coloured letters with the slogan “I kicked the good cancer” and then they throw streamers at you when the last drop of your chemotherapy goes in. Celebrating the end of your treatment and wishing you well for the next 50 years. Mel blogged about this final chemo session here.
And then… bang bang! The PET scan which shows that there is still cancer active in your nodes and chest, with a week to wait to find out what the next plan of attack is.
So in light of the fact I couldn’t say or do anything useful today, and embarrassed at my last attempt at t-shirt design, I have made my way back to the t-shirt slogan drawing board. Some are inspired from points in Mel’s blog and could apply now or down the track when the fu*ker really has been obliterated.
Lisey’s Lame Attempt at Hodgkin’s Lymphoma T-Shirt slogans round two.
**Come to think of it, Mel might be the only one to smile at some of these.
“I kicked The Good Cancer, it just took me a bit longer”
“ABVD can kiss my grits!”
“ABVD ACDC for every dyslexic hemotologist”
“BEACOPP. Should have followed the German Docs the first time.”
“Forget pre and post menopause. Menopause is now!”
“Anticipatory nausea, oops there it is!”
“My hematologist made me feel like I just had a cold. Whose laughing now!”
“Self Diagnosers Unite”
“Nauseated or nauseous, which one are you?”
“Keep calm, It’s just a positive PET scan.”
“It’s my PICC line and I’ll swim when I want to, swim when I want to”
and for later in the year…
“I really have kicked the good cancer. No really I have.”
In true form, tonight Mel is telling jokes and reassuring people, which is what any strong, kick arse, cancer patient does. It’s full steam ahead for Mel in the planning of our 60km walk in four weeks, like the true boss that she is. Mel has put so much effort into arranging our team for the Walk to End Womens Cancers for Peter Mac and will potentially now be undergoing more treatment at the time of it.
I don’t care what the walk organisers say, I will push her in a wheelchair the whole way if she is keen. I’m even thinking of buying this contraption below which caused me to stop on the side of the road this last weekend for a geezer. I think it can be decorated in Priscilla Queen of the Desert style. There is even a roof for shade and a place to store chemo meds. I might have to get the riders seat fixed though.
Love you Mel x
If you would like to donate to The Good Tittie Team click here, please select and donate to a team member who hasn’t yet reached their $2,000 dollar target. We desperately need all members to get to that magic number in order to walk.
Many thanks to all that have donated so far.
The Weekend to End Women’s Cancers benefits the Peter Mac Cancer Centre. It is a 2-day, 60-kilometre walk through the neighbourhoods of Melbourne. Money raised through participation in and donating towards the weekend will help impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of women and their families, here in Australia, and right around the globe. Peter Mac shares its research discoveries and its expertise beyond the benefit of patients treated at Peter Mac, to healthcare organisations and research institutes around the world. For information about the Walk to End Womens Cancers benefitting Peter Mac click here.