Sitting outside the doctors rooms I thought my heart was going to beat right out of my chest. My mouth and throat were so dry, I battled to swallow. My palms were sweaty and I’m pretty sure my pulse rate was through the roof. If there was ever somebody that was in the throes of a flight or fight response, it was me. Except that flight was not an option for me…I had no choice but to remain and stay the course no matter how ugly it turned out to be.
Eventually sitting opposite the doctor at his desk, my head and body had become ice cold, my ears were ringing and everything just seemed to be happening in slow motion. Getting up to go and look at the scan on screen, I thought my legs were going to buckle underneath me. There is was…the hot spot clear as day…the little blighter that was causing so much trouble and angst.
Much to my relief, my doctor said that he didn’t think that chemotherapy would be necessary this time around, but that he was definitely going to suggest radiation. That I could do. Just the thought of having to do chemotherapy yet again was enough to send me into the depths of despair. Since the cancer was so close to the surface, my doc wanted to send me to another private hospital where there was an excellent surgeon that could remove some of the cells from this tumor, whilst doing the minimum amount to damage to the surrounding tissue and prevent any scaring. This was our chance to see if I would perhaps test positive for treatment with Herceptin. I had tested negative for it in the past, but I’d been told this could always change. This testing would be very important for me, because I knew without even having to be told, that it was my best chance at a cure. In general we also just wanted to see how the cancer was behaving. My doc was very puzzled that the hormone therapy had stopped working for me so abruptly. I think he knew even then what was really happening, but saw how frightened I already was and didn’t want to send me into outright panic mode. He also knew how I felt about my already existing porto-cath scar on my chest that was a real eye sore, and assured me that this doctor would be very careful to prevent further damage. Upon meeting this other surgeon when the day arrived for my procedure, my mind was set at rest. He had a wonderful bedside manner and although I was only sedated and not under anesthetic while he set about retrieving the cells, I hardly felt anything and today you cannot even see where he went in. After resting for a couple of hours after the procedure, I was able to go home.
It was then time to start the radiation. Since it was in the middle of the girls summer vacation and we couldn’t go back home to South Africa for obvious reasons, they wanted to travel in the car with me everyday when I went for my sessions. Unfortunately the best facility with the most precise and advanced equipment was 250km away in another town, but what choice did I have? I was determined that I was going to fight this and my girls were determined that they would be by my side every step of the way too. For two weeks everyday, they made the most wonderful company and distraction in the car, as we laughed and chatted the whole way to sessions and back again. I was relieved beyond measure when the sessions at last came to a close. Driving for nearly 3 hours only to lie on a table for 10 minutes and then having to drive back the same distance again with just about no rest in between caught up with me thick and fast. Lying in bed the night after the last session, I cried and cried into the early hours of the morning. My poor little girls. They should have been enjoying a lovely holiday in their home country, playing outside in the fresh crisp air with the dogs at their grandparents house, or frolicking around without a care in the world whilst jumping through the waves in the sea. Instead they’d chosen to endure these arduous daily journeys with me in the cramped car, with nothing but desert sand and the occasional camel as passing scenery and not once did they moan. Having barely made it into teenage hood, they made a pact between the three of them to help me get through this no matter what it took.
I realized at that moment more acutely than ever before in my life, that things really do happen for a reason and that I had been gifted three very understanding, loving and giving little souls for a reason. My precious girls…words can never in a million years describe how much I love and admire them!