Xmas came and went, fortunately, I went down with a cold so retired to my sofa for much of the festering season, spending most of the time listening to music and reading when I felt up to it. As I got better I went out for walks and caught up with a couple of people after most of it was over. Throughout much of the time, there was in the background and sometimes in the foreground the concern about the swelling on my jawline. As it hadn’t really changed since finding it I was slightly less worried than when I found it. Whether this was based in reality or just my default state regarding the cancer of being optimistic whenever there is a glimmer of hope I don’t really know.
Waiting for an additional check-up is different from waiting for a routine check-up, yet it is the same, confusing and contradictory that this might sound. There is, of course, the anxiety of what the specialist might tell you at both, for the routine ones you, well I have got into a routine of worrying for a day or so a few weeks before and then relaxing about it again, well consciously. Of course, there is underlying stress but it doesn’t really impinge on your consciousness that much and I can get on with my life. With an extra check-up, because you are concerned about something, the normal way of dealing with the wait doesn’t really work, because the reason for the check is that you have discovered a change and are unsure whether it is something to be concerned about or not. I suppose it is a bit like when you go for your first post-treatment check-ups, you are entering unknown territory in many ways.
In the last couple of days before the check-up, I was trying to keep myself occupied and distracted and pretty much managed to. The weather was OK so I was able to get out for walks, I returned to the routine of doing top-up shopping, walking to the supermarket the long way round when I felt unsettled. Most of the time though I was able to carry on pretty much as normal and on the morning of the appointment I forgot about it and it was only when I checked my phone calendar to book something else in that I remembered it was later in the day.
My appointment was the first one for my consultant after lunch, so I was seen bang on time. I explained why I had asked for the appointment, he examined me briefly and told me it was a worsening of my lymphodema (or a collection of fluid for those like me until I began treatment who didn’t know what lymphodema is) and not a return of cancer. Which was a relief as you may or may not be able to imagine. When I said I was sorry for wasting his time, he told me that I was right to come in as if it had been a return of cancer it would have greatly increased the chances of a successful outcome. I now have to massage a bit of cream into my face every morning using a particular movement that will help the lymphodema drain. Apparently, it is not uncommon for the lymphodema to be fairly stable for a long time and then change, which it has in my case, I have had a slight swelling on the left side of my jaw since the treatment. It is just more so at the moment, hopefully with the massaging, it will go back to how it was. Whilst there I mentioned I still had a bit of vertigo now and again, he gave me a leaflet of exercises to try between now and my next appointment, which he thought would help. So all in all a pretty successful 10 to 15 minutes of his and my time I think.
It was as I walked out and back towards home that the relief fully sank in and when I got to Queens Park I felt an irresistible urge to sit on the bench I sat on when I got my first all clear nearly 4 years ago, so I did. As it was back in March 14, it was a cold and fairly clear day again which is possibly why my subconscious mind wanted me to sit down and ponder life for a few minutes. So I sat and looked at the lake, the sky, noticing the people wandering around, the birds floating on the lake, the ones waddling on the banks and of course watching the one flying about. Just a normal sunny winter day, with nothing out of the usual going on, which for me was different to my walk through it on the way to the appointment 30 mins or earlier. After some minutes sat there I decided it was too bloody cold to sit there any longer so I wandered home to collect something and then wandered into town to drop it off.
In between all this, I messaged a few people the news and one asked me if I was going to go out to celebrate, I said I wasn’t as it seemed a bit late to organise something. So on my return home I baked a cake to celebrate and had a small slice after my dinner and have had another with a mug of tea as I write this. I don’t think I have ever specifically gone out to celebrate getting an all clear, I am not sure why this is. Maybe it is to do with being single, if you have a partner, you have someone to go celebrating with and would not have to plan before hand. Being single I don’t feel you can put a few friends on standby to go celebrating and expect them to hold an evening free just in case. And what do you and they do if you don’t get an all clear, still meet up and either pretend everything is alright or spend the evening speculating on what happens. Not a very enticing prospect I feel.
Another reason for not arranging to meet people is that sometimes in the past after a check up all I have wanted to do is have a peaceful evening at home. I probably have been out after a check-up, but that would be by chance rather than planned or for another reason unconnected to my cancer check-up. But it has got me thinking about how in just over a years time I will have my 5 years check up and vaguely wondering whether I would want to plan something beforehand or not. In many ways it feels a bit presumptuous to plan a celebration before you get the results so I probably won’t.
So I am now wondering what to do over the next few months, I have my volunteering and have commitments for this booked into mid-Feb at the moment. But after then I am a bit of a free agent and am wondering what to do. It is a bit early in the year to head to Dalyan but I might head somewhere for a bit of time in warm sunny weather. Something to think about over the next week or so. I hope everyone reading this had a happy new year, other festivities if celebrated and has a healthy and good year ahead.