Thursday, July 5, 2012

C'est la vie

So life continues on, as it has to. On Monday, June 9, I will get another PET scan, my fifth all together (so far the third one is the only one that has brought any good news). The results of this PET will play a big part in what the next step will be, but as it stands, I will be undergoing my allograft on July 27. That is, I will be receiving my sister’s stem cells that day, a day which they refer to as “day zero”, as it marks the beginning of my stem cell journey and enables my progress to be mapped from there (sigh, back to zero again). The procedure will take place at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, not Peter Mac, which in a way I am grateful for, because even though it’s still a hospital, at least it’s a change of scenery (although I haven’t sampled the food yet).
There’s a number of possible outcomes from the PET. That the cancer has barely grown or grown a little bit, that it has grown significantly, or that it has shrunk. The last two outcomes are very unlikely, so the doctors are assuming that it will only have grown a bit, if at all. If this is the case, then the transplant will go ahead as planned in late July. I’m now approaching three months since my autograft, which is the minimum amount of time my body needs (to recover from the first transplant) before it can go into the allograft.
It is the plan that my allograft will be followed by some radiotherapy. The possibility of having radiotherapy before the transplant has been ruled out. This is because the radiotherapy dose would have to be reduced in order to protect my organs going into the transplant, and if it is reduced, it will make little impact. So pointless, really.
I’m dealing with my situation a lot better than when I first found out about the relapse, although I do find myself tearing up unexpectedly on odd occasions. When I first found out I was so shocked and saddened I didn’t know how I was going to cope. But as I said before, life has to go on, and it has, and I’ve been enjoying it. If I was watching someone else go through what I am going through, I would probably wonder how they have not collapsed in a heap. But it's totally different when it happens to you. If anything, it makes living more important.
And of course, there are other things going on in my life that are completely non-cancer-related that are also worth reporting. I’ve had several weeks away from the hospital now, and I took the break as a good opportunity to do what I love best: travel. So I went and visited the one state in Australia I had never been to: Western Australia. It was an epic, week-long tour of South-Western Australia, and I can now say I am in love and would happily move there for a year or two. I have never felt so relaxed in a capital city as I did in Perth, and I do like the idea of being isolated for a little while. Melbourne has always been my favourite, but having all my treatment here has taken away the rose-coloured glasses, for now.

Road tripping in WA
Cairns is the next on the list: I have booked a trip there for me and the amazing Matt who is flying all the way from the UK. I am beyond excited about this trip and the weeks ahead; it is so nice to have something to look forward to, rather than dread. At the moment I feel pretty good; my energy levels aren’t what they used to be and any form of exercise more strenuous than walking will have my legs dragging and limbs aching for days, but seven days relaxing by the beach or pool, snorkelling, and staying overnight amongst the Daintree Rainforest treetops doesn’t sound too strenuous to me.

So while I'm doing things I've never done before (or never really planned to do, let's be honest), I can also tick 'Climbing a 75-metre Death Tree' off my bucket list (though quietly, I think it was taller than that. Maybe it's grown since they wrote that sign). While I was in WA, I climbed the Bicentennial Tree near Pemberton in the south-west. The ladder I climbed was made up of thick steel rods, spiraling up the tree to a platform at the very top (yes, with absolutely no safety net or harness whatsoever), which places you at the top of the forest, with the bushy canopy below you stretching for miles. It was raining when I did this, meaning the rods were slippery and it was very precarious. I also realized how deconditioned I was, as I started to grow very tired and was well out of breath by the time I reached the top. But getting to the top was less than half the battle; getting down proved much more terrifying. Every step down I was confronted with the dizzying heights I had reached and that a simple slip could be costly. But even though my hands were ice blocks and my legs were like jelly, that feeling of my feet hitting the ground was superb. I felt invincible.

"The Death Tree"

So now I have another slippery and dangerous climb ahead of me - the allograft. There’s the risk that I could die from climbing it, but the risk of not climbing it is far greater. Anything could happen along the way, but just like The Death Tree, I just have to focus on one rung at a time. My aim is to climb to the top, and make it to the bottom, and once again feel that invincible feeling, but on a whole new level. It’s a bit of a cheesy metaphor really, but there is no better feeling than confronting and conquering a fear. 
So next week I’m going to spend some time in the sunshine of Northern Queensland. I am also going to celebrate my 30th birthday on my return, which actually happened two months ago but I wasn’t in the best shape back then. It will be an opportunity to spend time with friends and family who I have found it so hard to find time for amid the chaos of appointments and tests and travels. I certainly have had some pretty rotten luck recently, but it’s nice to know that not everything is doom and gloom. I’m just hoping and praying that Lady Luck comes to my aid right when I need her the most.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this. It's lovely to be able to have a glimpse in to your life through your blog. Glad you kept up the travelling ;). Many hugs! Your former roomie, Harminicious xxx