In Shock at Good Blood Results

posted in: Cancer 0

It’s blood results day. I don’t have butterflies in my stomach – more like a herd of stampeding elephants. Husband sits quietly by the telephone; I feel physically sick as the adrenalin kicks in. So much hangs on this short call.

We just never quite know where we are with these cancers so we don’t take blood results for granted. Husband feels well but he went for a swim yesterday (in the sea – we’re avoiding pools) and he had to cut it short because he just had no energy. We reasoned that it was because it was cold but I could see that he was disappointed and a bit concerned – he’d swum in colder water a couple of months ago.

They always say with investments that past numbers are no indicator of future performance. The same is true of blood tests. I know this but I can’t resist looking over the blood numbers for the last few years. It’s my way of trying to prepare myself for disappointment should it come. Previously a drop as significant as the last one (15.5 down to 14.6) has been the start of a downward trend. I try to reason with myself, “If it’s down by x amount it’s still likely to be y amount of time before treatment – he can continue with his life”, quietly admitting “If it’s down by y, treatment could come a good bit sooner”. Of course me guessing is a pointless effort at planning something which can’t be planned, a futile attempt at some measure of control.

We know he’ll need treatment again but we’re just hoping that it won’t be quite yet because we know that the longer the remission the better and to be honest it’s just lovely to be getting on with life at the moment rather than planning around treatment.

The doc calls and starts with the usual general niceties with maddening cheery calm, not giving us ‘the numbers’. Husband asks for them. “Oh yes, the numbers: haemoglobin 16”. “16?” I mouth to Husband, uncomprehendingly. He grins, writes down 160 for me. How?? I’m not complaining! His platelets are up a little and the proteins are stable (up by .1). I’m almost a little in shock. If someone had asked us what numbers we’d like to see we’d never have been cheeky enough to ask for 160. His haemoglobin has never been at that level over the last 6 years.

We’ve learned to value stability, the reasonable hope that he won’t need treatment for at least the next three months. It really is very exciting to be given that “Okay, you can go and live your lives”. And we will. Husband looks and feels well. Somewhere in his system we know that cancer lurks. But it’s not doing much at the moment so we don’t have to do anything. He will enjoy the next three months living largely as if he doesn’t have cancer. We never quite lose sight of it but whereas some phases require us to focus on it, the current phase encourages us to think about it as little as possible. And that’s so exciting. I am wandering around with a daft grin on my face randomly saying “16!!” to my bemused spouse.

Perhaps weirdly we feel a bit guilty when we have really good news from the docs. We’re very conscious of how lucky we are (even though we know it’s not permanent) and how many people are facing tougher results.

We’ve had some tough days with this cancer thing. But today isn’t one of them. Today is good. Really good. Today means that we can plan a holiday (avoiding public transport and involving social distancing and masks!) And that is amazing. The dog will be so excited. Us too.

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