Every week I do an hour of Pilates. At the end of that hour none of us can believe it’s gone so quickly. Last night I watched ‘Who do you think you are?’ Again an hour just gone. Sometimes an hour will just vanish – I look at the clock and its 3pm, 10 minutes later I look again and its 4pm.
The longest hour however, is that hour between having your blood taken and being seen by your consultant at The Christie cancer hospital – to tell you if you are OK, or whether ‘its’ come back.
Although I know I feel well and that I have no symptoms, you still gear yourself up for bad news. Tris tries to talk to me and I only half listen but I appreciate his efforts. I’m too busy chanting ‘Please let it be OK, Please let it be OK, Please let it be OK’. I’ve just done the maths and it would seem that I have repeated that plea 2,400 times this morning.
The clock goes round so slowly. You jump every time someone comes out of the Doctors office and temporarily relax again when it’s someone else’s name they call.
I view cancer in the same way as an indiscriminate serial killer. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. It comes for you whether you’ve lived a good life or not. As I sat in outpatients this morning I saw old faces, young faces, white, Asian and black. Cancer is no respecter of convention.
When you get your eye in, as good as they are, you can tell who is wearing a wig. And you can tell what stage they are at in their treatment by the length (or lack) of their hair.
All it took was the whiff of the alcohol wipe the phlebotomist used when he took my blood, to take me back to a much darker time when the mere smell of one would make me throw up with terror.
Yes, despite how well I’ve been recently, by the time I saw my consultant this morning, I was on the cusp of gibbering wreck.
By now I know you will be shouting at the screen – ‘Shut up and just tell me if you are alright!’
YES – I’M OK!
No symptoms, bloods OK – come back in four months.
Not only that, I’ve had a promotion. I’ve been moved to the Thursday afternoon clinic. I have no idea what that means, but I gather it’s a good thing.
A lot has happened since my last check up in April. I was able to show my consultant and the nurses that treated me, a photo of our wedding. They have such an incredibly hard job to do and they see people at their lowest and most desperate. It’s so nice to be able to go back and let them meet the real Alison, and to let them know that on our wedding day we all toasted their health and their amazing work. It was good to be able to say ‘Thank you – without you, this picture of me and Tris looking so happy, would never have been taken’.
I got told off for making them all cry – but in a nice way.
So spare a thought for those still going through their own battles – you don’t your born until something like that hits you. Maybe they should make the rioters do community service at The Christie. Being around cancer patients will soon help them get their priorities in order. And spare a thought too for those who haven't been as lucky as me - and who we miss with all our hearts every day.
Tonight I think that my husband and I might go on a date and quietly celebrate our good news. We are let off the hook now (hopefully) until December.
Thanks for all your good wishes and bum clenching people. You really are the best xxxxxxx