After a year of remarkable wellness I got my latest scan results this week. I am very relieved to report that my brain, which has been riddled with tumours three times in as many years, remains virtually clear (but for a tiny spot we have been monitoring for some time). There are no new tumours in any other parts of my body and I continue to feel very well indeed.
The ‘lifeshock’ on this occasion was hearing that the primary tumour in my lung has grown for the first time in nearly four years. This means the cancer is active again in that site and needs to be treated. Obviously, this is a concerning development. So much so I was instantly scheduled for several rounds of Cyber Knife Radiotherapy in early October when I return from a trip to the States, which is part business and part retreat. Biff the bugger. Well, burn it. That’s the strategy. And stay on Osimertinib, which is keeping everything else stable.
Mostly I feel calm, though some anxiety inevitably ebbs and flows. But I am struck by two things in particular:
First, knowing that grief is held in the lungs – a revelation that profoundly changed my life when I was first diagnosed – it seems poignant that this growth has occurred since my darling Dad died five months ago. I miss him immensely. I miss his presence, the interest he took in my life, the pride he felt about the work I do, the love he embodied and even the frequent criticisms about what I could be doing better. For him, this was an expression of support (which took me a frickin long time to fathom!). I am writing this at an antique desk I inherited after he died and have many childhood memories of him working at it at our home in Wales. I have been incredibly busy this year, especially with the publication of my new book, which has left little time to feel this loss as it deserves to be felt. Fully and wholeheartedly. As such, I will give it room to breathe in the weeks ahead, especially when I am on retreat in New Mexico in September.
Second, I have been asking my oncologist to Cyber Knife my primary tumour for two years. Granted, the cancer cells are circulating in my blood, but it seems to me that eradicating the original site of this disease is a bloody good idea all round. It has now grown enough to justify doing this. I did a little jig in his office when he recommended the treatment and he laughed, saying, “I thought you would be pleased!” I really am. I keep hearing my darling mentor, Brad, saying, “Be very careful what you ask for, Sophie. You might get it.” Ha. Radiotherapy is no Mardi Gras, but I got what I asked for and will accept it in good grace.
Meantime, I am heading to Portugal with my family for two weeks armed with four books: Jane McLelland’s ‘How To Starve Cancer” (highly recommended), Steve Biddulph’s ‘Raising Girls’ (sorely needed!), Keith Stuart’s magical ‘Days of Wonder’ and my epically talented friend Chris Morgan Jones’ audacious thriller, ‘The Good Sister’ (because every holiday we need to fall into a couple of novels from which we can’t get up). He writes as Morgan Jones by the way. Buy it!
More important than any other news I have to share…my courageous Miss G has had her ears pierced (my bargaining chip when resisting pleas for a phone) and I braved Legoland with her in the summer holiday mayhem, which I rank among my highest achievements.
Inwards and onwards.