“I didn’t think I’d last a year”: 5 years on

posted in: Cancer, Cancer and faith 0

Husband’s three-monthly appointment is today. We live our lives in three-month increments, grateful each time to effectively be told “You can go and live your lives for three months”, as opposed to “We need to start treatment next week.” We’re glad that he’s monitored regularly but it’s a bit stressful as we approach each appointment.

He’s had a few nosebleeds over the last month so distant alarm bells are ringing. Most of the nosebleeds have been light and short-lived and no more than one a day but he had two on one day. He’s had six nosebleeds in a month – more than I’ve had in the last six years but not scary in and of itself. When his nosebleeds were at their worst he was having five or six a day. It’s just unsettling for them to arrive for no reason other than (possibly) the cold weather. It’s one more thing to keep track of – in case…

The nurse taking his blood struggled to get blood out this time. He’s very stoical about these things but it was clearly uncomfortable for him because she had to wriggle the needle around a bit. Again little alarm bells ring because when the proteins were high the thickened blood made blood tests difficult. The nurses could actually see and feel that the blood was thicker than it should be and it was more difficult to physically extract it. The weather is unusually cold and Husband had to stand outside the GP’surgery for a long time for his turn to go in so I’m hoping (again) that I can blame the cold.

He looks and feels well, so much so that we can almost forget the cancer. Except that it’s still there, deep in the background. These appointments feel like a reckoning but they also provide signposts on a path which at times seems very unclear.

I can’t help but feel uneasy. Spurgeon famously commented, “There are two great certainties about things that shall come to pass – one is that God knows, and the other is that we do not know.” Jesus told us to take one day at a time, to trust him with a future that we can’t see and can’t control but that he can: “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34).

Husband is 62 now. He admitted this morning, “When they first told me I had lymphoma I didn’t think I’d last a year”. It’s been a tough 5 years, perhaps we’ve worked too hard. He’s had some pretty major treatments – splenectomy, RCVP and then Rituximab and Bendamustine. But he’s also had some holidays and many wonderful walks with the dog. 5 years ago we didn’t dare hope for the life he has now.

We’re still in lockdown due to COVID restrictions so we simply have to wait for a phone call this afternoon. It’s definitely easier than having to wait in a hospital corridor but I start to feel sick with adrenalin as we wait. Husband calmly sips coffee but he knows that a lot hangs on this short call.

It really is a short call but the news is good. The proteins are still at 3.2. We’d have loved to see a slight decline, however teeny, but stability is great. Better still the haemoglobin is up by .6 to 15.5, platelets are up from 331 to 387, white cells are still within the normal range at 7.2. We could never have dreamt of such numbers in the first 3 years of treatment. We have space to breathe, to dream of buying a small van to go on holiday when lockdown eventually lifts. It looks like it will be some time before we can go back to Europe but better to be stopped by lockdown than cancer!

For so long I prayed for stability, a time when we could take stock, recover a bit. Now is that time. It’s not cancer-free but it is currently drama-free which is pretty amazing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.