I had my last hospital appointment of the year on Tuesday. My portacath (internal line) wasn't drawing back properly (giving blood) so I had to return to get it flushed out and working. It was all done in the space of a few minutes, and after catching up with gossip from the day unit staff Christmas Party I was done. My hospital year started on January 3rd. It's been a long old year. I can't say it's been a fun one.
Some weeks have seemed to last for months, like being trapped in a room with only 'Friends' repeats for company. One week in May when just off chemo I had my Dad's funeral and two day's later a Barts pal said they had incurable cancer was a particular doozy. I now get the festive season off and I'm back on January 8th where we do it all again.
This disease is still with me. Like an overstaying house guest who refuses to leave. My AFP tumour markers are down to 64 but that's not good enough. There will be lots more treatment to come, but as my CT scan came back fine (no spreading, no new tumours or metastisation) , we have no exact site to work with. Like a needle in a haystack, where the needle is also hay. Hopefully I can avoid chemo for a while as I've had 8 months of it this year, and frankly there's a lot more fun drugs you could be having in that time. I'll probably have more radiotherapy if they can find the source of the cancer activity. I naively thought the first time around it would be a walk in Regent's Park compared to chemo, but ended up feeling you're doing the London marathon against your will while dressed in a dinosaur costume.
The lack of a definite plan for the new year is a strange one to get my head around. One weird comfort in all these three plus years is that there's always been a plan. People love plans don't they? They'll be a slew of books released in the coming weeks offering you plans on everything from the new fad diet, to karmic tidying, to the latest Scandinavian lifestyle craze (Is it Finland's turn yet?). I've grown to like plans, even treatment one's which leave you half dead on the floor. There's always something to aim for, a new milestone or target to meet. Years of working in broadcast media jobs mean I'm really used to deadlines. Not having one is a like coming off the waltzers at a funfair, disorientating and not sure if you are going to be sick or just need some more candy floss.
So in the meantime I'm trying to make the most of my month off. Doing things that matter most to me. Seeing friends, going to gigs and films, organising family stuff and generally trying to remember what it's like to have a life again. This year's love has been keeping those things going. Things that are of value, even after everything else is shattered like a pint glass on a pub floor.