Saturday, 30 June 2012

A Walk in the Park

It's been a very difficult few days. It turns out that what the hospital doctor thought was fluid retention in the wound was actually a really nasty infection brewing. By yesterday, everywhere on my right hand side between my waist and my face was swollen back and front, and I was unable to put my hand down by my side. The pain has been indescribable. Last night I went to see my GP as an emergency, and he immediately put me on high doses of antibiotics, as well as prescribing yet more heavy-duty painkillers.

This morning, despite all the new medication, I was even worse. By lunchtime I was shaky and shivery, and unable to talk properly. My lovely Dad came home and took control - he rang the GP's surgery and  assertively insisted on talking to a doctor - who told him to call the hospital, which he did, and was equally assertive. WM dropped everything all over again to take me straight up there - and the same doctor I saw on Tuesday was there, and this time he tried to drain the wound. All very frightening, emotional and painful, with scary-looking equipment including a thick needle, tubing and a bottle, but not much came out.

I came home, feeling worse than ever, and went straight back to bed. I've hardly left my bed over the past couple of days. I slept until nearly 10pm, and got up, and just felt significantly better. Not right, and still very ill and in quite considerable pain that even the most heavy-duty of analgesia are barely touching, but better, and I think finally the antibiotics have kicked in and I've turned the corner.

In 5 days time I'm back at the hospital, where I'll get the results of all the histology reports following my surgery, and for the first time since diagnosis we should all have a much clearer picture of exactly how bad this cancer has got, and what plans they have to banish or diminish it. It's all quite daunting, and it would have been really helpful if I could have had a few days of relative strength and wellness to enable me to get my head in the right place to cope with the next onslaught of news and treatment. You can only play with the deck of cards you've been given, though, so I'll have to find a way of getting my fighting spirit back on track regardless.

During those surreal weeks between diagnosis and surgery, I read everything I possibly could about cancer, it's causes, and it's cures. The more I read, the more convincing the evidence became that there is so much I can do for myself to regain my health. Everyone has cancer cells, but some people develop it while others don't, and with positive changes in lifestyle, those of us with cancer can significantly increase the odds in favour or our own survival. In the weeks before the operation, I had made huge changes to my diet, but since the surgery, I have been so ill that I've reverted to "a little of what you fancy does you good" and have been comfort eating like crazy. Today that stops, and I'm back to the "anti-cancer" diet. Those of you who know me well will know that exercise is not something I enjoy or am good at, but regular exercise can also up the odds.  Then there is adopting a calm attitude, meditation, proper sleep and rest, stress avoidance, and remaining hopeful - all things that just are not me at all, but somehow I've got to embrace them, at least for the next few months while this cancer has the audacity to threaten my life.

On Wednesday of next week I'll get to find out how much of a threat it actually is. By then, I need to be strong, determined and resolute. I also need to have started moving in the right direction of the "anti-cancer lifestyle" and take control over this wretched thing. There is masses I can do to improve my chances of being in that long tail of the graph that represents the cancer survivors, and never giving up hope is the most powerful tool there is. My aunt is now 84. In 1981 she had cancer, and two years later it returned with a vengeance. In those days there was no treatment available for the seriousness of her condition, and she was given 6 months to live. 29 years later, she is living a full and very active life, still driving, still fiercely intelligent and quick, still loving every minute of her "borrowed time". I've always thought the world of her, but now, she is my role model too.

I'm really cross that this infection has robbed me of a precious few days of what would otherwise have seen me well, strong and happy before facing up to next week's news. There's absolutely no reason why I can't still be happy over the next few days, and concentrating on mental strength and well-being even if physically I'm not as great as I'd like to be. I've just got to focus and get my head around it all, and with the terrible pain subsiding by the hour, once I set my mind to it, it should be a walk in the park.


  1. You must have been in so much pain Yvonne, but I'm glad they have finally worked out what's wrong and started sounds like you have been resting which will only help, so keep it up and you will gradually get your strength back. Whatever comes your way next week, you will handle it in the same way you handle everything, so don't waste emotions worrying about how you're going to manage what they tell you, just concentrate on getting rid of the infection. xxxxx

  2. What a wonderful post. You are fantastic to manage to be so positive and taking control when you are feeling so lousy. Good luck with the diet, etc. and don't forget the beneficial effects of laughter. And lovely of you to mention your aunt; she got herself through it in her own way and yes, she is an amazing role model. Lots of love xxx