Not the beginning of the end

Not the beginning of the end.

This much I know: About 18 months ago I discovered, out of the blue, that I have stage 4 colon cancer with secondary liver cancer. I was also told that it was treatable but not curable. I am now on the third cycle of my third round of chemo. After the first round, the original colon tumour was pretty much destroyed and hasn’t returned. The liver tumours were reduced in size, so I’m confident that the treatment is working. During breaks between rounds of chemo, the liver tumours regrow and spread through my liver. I also know that it is difficult to obtain a detailed picture of tumours in the liver using a CT scan, due to the composition of the liver. Although I know that there are multiple liver tumours, my oncologist wasn’t able to say how many there are, or how widespread I also know that the more tumours there are, and the lack of detail limits the options for alternative treatments (ablation, embolization, radiotherapy).

Throughout my treatment, I have had very mild side-effects, but I am aware that as the treatment continues, they are likely to become more evident, and more onerous. Meaning that eventually, treatment will probably become palliative care.  I recently noticed that I was becoming far more tired than I have previously, and that I have more mild tummy upsets. So now it would be more correct to describe both of these as fatigue and nausea, both of which sound more serious. Unfortunately, the fatigue seems to have upset my normal equilibrium. I am generally a ‘glass half full’ kind of person, but the recent change in my side effects made me start to think: ‘Is this the beginning of the end?’, and that was depressing.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take long for me to get back on track. There is a big difference between what we know and what we think. I have an excellent support network, consisting of my nearest and dearest, and an excellent team at the Oncology Day Unit where I am treated – whenever I am there I come away feeling as though I have been cared for rather than just treated. The severity of my side-effects and the subsequent treatment/care is what I expect, based upon what has typically happened to others. However, we are all individuals, and have different emotional and physiological responses to what we experience. These differences mean that both severity and time-scale cannot be accurately predicted, not even by the oncology specialists, they too base their assumptions on what they have seen before.

When I take all of this into account: my support, my resilience so far, and the unknow emotional and physiological responses, I see no reason to believe that the beginning of the end is imminent. What I do see is the harm done by making unfounded assumptions.

My equilibrium and contentment is restored.