As much as I love the ladies in the oncology suite I fervently hope I never have to set foot there again until the day I die of natural causes at the age of 84. I made them a plate of chocolate gingerbread which somehow seemed inadequate (not to say unhealthy) for all the great care they had provided to me.
I feel like I have run a particularly gruelling torturous marathon. I sat down the other day and did my 'out of pocket' medical expenses table for the accountant (thank you, evil Medicare and health insurer for not paying me for any of my Chinese medical expenses and no it is NOT a lifestyle choice).
It made me feel quite unwell to revisit all I have been through. It was almost like going through it again. And of course I felt relieved that I was even around to be doing an Excel spreadsheet of medical costs. Because that is what people say don't they? That we should be thinking 'well at least I'm not dead'. But really you could say that about any crap experience. It doesn't make it any less horrendous.
A particularly satisfying rainbow down at the beach
When I look at my treatment course I find it hard to believe I found the time to keep working. And cooking. And being a wife. And raising two occasionally temperamental children who have been through something no child should have to (as much as I tried to keep on an even keel and keep it hidden, they knew, as all children do, that things were not quite right last year).
I certainly didn't have the time to write here as much as I could have or should have.
You see, it's not just the chemo which is distracting. It is all the miscellanea, or paraphernalia which comes with a cancer diagnosis.
As a test, I thought I would see if I can remember what has in fact been keeping me busy since 20 December 2010. And lo and behold, I could. Engraved on my soul, I guess you could say:
- two major operations
- two breast biopsies
- one MRI
- 2 CT scans
- 2 bone scans
- one liver ultrasound.
- two mammograms
- two breast ultrasounds
- 4 x fortnightly AC chemotherapy (average length - four to 5 hours)
- 12 x weekly Taxol chemo (average length 3 hours)
- 12 x weekly Herceptin infusion (with Taxol)
- 15 x 3 weekly Herceptin infusion (average 2 hours).
- 5 heart scans (MUGA and EKG)
- 1 stereoscopic biopsy.
- 4 self injections of Neulastin (for blood count)
- 6 x injections of Zolodex (don't ask)
- 11 surgical consultations
- similar number oncology consultations
- monthly acupuncture and Chinese herbal consultation with the Professor.
- countless, and I do mean too many to count, blood tests.
It's a full time job, having cancer. These things take time. Getting the referral, booking appointments, sitting around waiting waiting. Drinking something awful or having blood taken and waiting a bit more. Trying not to stare too much at the other people. Burying my nose in a book or my IPhone. Waiting a bit more.
I have sat in many waiting rooms. Waiting rooms with nothing but four year old golf magazines. Waiting rooms with ugly flower paintings. With silly background musak. With morning TV. With people sitting staring at the wall trying to come to terms with unspeakable news. With people crying.
But I have also made wonderful friends, and shared many many jokes with all kinds of people, because when things are black one can often still find a reason to smile.
THANK YOU ALL for your words of encouragement, support and friendship. What I would have done without you all, I do not know.
In a horrible kind of symmetry, last week a lovely fellow blogger, Annie, who is from Queensland was diagnosed with breast cancer. Please visit her here and give her lots of support.