The Herald on Sunday
I fear my cancer has woken up. I won’t lie – I am scared Ally McLaws
Living with cancer during a pandemic
AS cancer patients know, the temporary comfort blanket of remission can be snatched away at any time. A tell-tale sign of change or a revealing scan or blood test result will usually be the way we get that devastating news.
Between times, we all learn to accept that for the time being things are good, life is for the living and cancer is sleeping.
I have a fear my cancer has woken up. For the past few days, I have suffered terrible back pain. Excruciating pain that only extra doses of fastacting morphine have kept almost bearable. I have also resorted to getting CBD (cannabis oil) rubbed on my back – there have been moments I would try anything, such has been the pain.
I try to prevent muscle wastage resulting from medication by walking on my treadmill at a gentle pace. I stopped after a few days when the back pain worsened. I had only started at the beginning of the month because walking with Laura and our dog Mishka was getting too tiring and sore. So, now there’s no real exercise going on.
It seems there could be two causes of this pain. Muscle injury (pulled or twisted something) or a build-up of fluid inside my back/chest cavity which is linked to cancer activity and would not be good.
Last week, I received radiotherapy for my brain tumours and lying on my back on the hard glass table for half-an-hour during the precision zapping of two lesions was hellish – I almost had to shout to stop midway through the treatment but feared the consequences.
I was “grey” with pain when the specially customised face and head clamp was unbolted and I eventually crawled off the scanner table.
But I have confidence this treatment will shrink the two tumours just as the treatment a couple of months ago shrunk two other tumours. But right now my focus and concern is about what might be happening in my chest and back. I have a CT scan next week that will give the oncology team that information.
I won’t lie – I am scared. Laura is fearful too. We both know that whatever the outcome we just have to deal with it. We are pragmatic – and that helps – but it doesn’t provide an antidote to emotional fear.
There’s no doubt I do feel “more ill”. I have less energy, my breathing is shallower, I am weaker, and pain is either etched on my face or holding my hand. This is an anxious time – a time that so many cancer patients go through.
So, for every cancer patient about to get a screening update or awaiting the result of a test – and for everyone who is sharing that nervous wait with them – good luck to us all and here’s to a further remission result.
Ally McLaws is a freelance specialist in writing, business marketing and reputation management. See the full range of services on offer and view all previous back issues of this column at: www.mclawsconsultancy.com