It's the copy of the letter from the Consultant Oncologist to my GP, stating exactly where we're at with my cancer, following the meeting we had a couple of weeks ago where both WM and I came out feeling confused, and with totally different understandings of what had been said.
Well now it's all in black and white so there is no confusion, but more than a little bit of shock. Reading the letter, "Treatment" is the word that has caused us such confusion. Yes, they think the cancer spread to my spine has been "treated" but treatment does not have the same meaning as "cured".
It was probably there already when chemo started, and all chemo can do to bone metastatic disease is to slow it down and reduce the size of the tumour, it cannot cure it completely.
The letter makes it very clear that I now officially have Stage IV metastatic disease, which is the terminally ill variety. The letter also very kindly states that I took the news "very courageously". It's easy to be courageous when you don't fully understand.
It's good to know what the bottom line is. I can now look the enemy in the eye and get on with fighting it on the beaches or whatever.
Terminal illness takes various forms though. There is the Hollywood romantic version where the beautiful heroine lies on deathbed with her nearest and dearest gathered around, looks fragile and angelic, says a last line of wisdom that will change everyone's life for the better forever, and then she swoons towards a quick and painless death.
I really don't want that one.The one I want is this: "Shame she didn't see the nightbus coming when she was leading the hokey cokey dancing over Waterloo Bridge, but she was 94, she's had a good life, and what was that nonsense she tried to tell us all those years ago about terminal cancer?"
There is a load of stuff I can do to help me stay strong, boost my immune system, and delay the onset of the end, and quite frankly, right now I feel so fit and well and energetic that I think I could keep going for a load more years. That's the irony, after months of breathlessness and fatigue and feeling like death-warmed-up, the very week we had this fateful meeting with the Oncologist it was like a switch had been turned back on, and my energy levels and wellness just flooded back in, making me feel better and fitter and younger than I have for several years before I ever got diagnosed.
So back to the cancer curing diet I've yo-yoed on about for several months. Slowly but surely this time, introducing 2 or 3 more elements every couple of weeks or so to ensure I don't completely set myself up to fall right off the wagon. I'm very pleased so far with my progress, I'm drinking 3 cups of green tea every day and going on the exercise bike twice a day too - and I've kept this up consistently for a fortnight.
The real hardcore weaponry against cancer is the conventional medical treatment, and I'm really lucky to be getting the very latest, best and most effective of everything on offer. All the other little bits and pieces I can do for myself aren't a substitute, but could help to influence the outcome for two reasons. Firstly, they can be effective, secondly, it gives me a sense of empowerment, of being in the driving seat and in some sort of control, all things that are really important if I am to keep going for years upon years.
So what is the bottom line? The average length of life past this specific diagnosis is a bit more than 2 years. However, some manage 10, and with new treatments, that 10 may stretch to 15. Well I never intended to be average, so I'm aiming for 30.
Meanwhile, back to Coke Floats & Chemo, this is the week I should be having a ball, and I'm not going to let some silly words on a page rain on this week's parade.
Last week, we were on Ridge Radio, with the lovely Dave Roberts during his "Music for Grown Ups" slot. It was a really fun evening, with my daughter Francesca (who is also in Coke Floats & Chemo), the fabulous Alice, and miniYvonne who made some really rude gestures on air. If you'd like to listen to it you can, here's the link:-