The truth of it

The truth is I don’t know where to start, because it’s been a bit of a year.

You see a while back I had another one of those dreams. I dreamed I’d had a recurrence. The dream seemed a little strange, but without a sting in its tail, I soon forgot it. No fear. Recurrence was just not on my radar. After all, I was in a good place. My markers were good. Life was good. And so I put the dream aside. Didn’t think any more of it. Certainly didn’t worry about it at all.

Fast forward to last October when my left eye went a bit screwy. Horner’s Sydrome they call it. And when I googled it, the first paper I found indicated it could be a sign of recurrence. I admit I freaked slightly. But it could also be a virus or a number of other things. I checked in medically and nobody seemed concerned, especially as it seemed to get a little better rather than worse. But I wasn’t happy.

And then the pain began.

The most excruciating pain I have ever experienced. Deep under my shoulder blade. It came on worse every night, and sometimes during the day. And it seemed to move around. Nothing – and I mean nothing that would normally help – helped. Not massage, not chiro, not swimming, not pilates. Nothing.

Tears every night as the pain ramped up.

Six months with no sleep.

My body out of control.

And that’s when I asked for my tumour markers to be done. A slight increase, still within normal – but not normal for me. My markers have always been low. Really low. A month later, the markers now out of the normal range. Still no sleep. Still in pain. A month later the markers higher again. A CT scan, a biopsy.

Bingo. Yep. Back again.

It’s our worst nightmare, isn’t it.

A recurrence.

Not just in one place mind you. Bloody everywhere. Or so it seemed. In a few of my bones and in the pleura of my left lung. That’s why it hurt so much. The pleura is full of nerve endings. It’s what helps us breathe.

In my mind I picked my coffin. White with flowers hand-painted by my kids all over it.

And then I had a complete meltdown.

After all, a recurrence means the end, doesn’t it. Or does it? That’s the fear that threatens to rule our lives after cancer the first time round.

But I am one of the lucky ones. I once again took charge of my own healing. Even before the results came back I got started with Chinese medicine. He’s brilliant this man. Humble and wise. And I’m so relieved I didn’t have to head overseas. But I did have to drive 1200km every week for 13 weeks. I could have travelled right round Australia. Yes, it’s a huge commitment but when it’s your life on the line it’s just something you do. A change of diet, meditation every day, Chinese herbs and acupuncture to boost my immune system, Qi Gong and some Tamoxifen to stop the oestrogen. To starve the little buggers so my immune system can get back to doing its job. The combined approach is nothing short of a miracle. I used the best of eastern and western. Bugger what other people think. This is what’s working for me. And thankfully my doctors work together understanding they each have their own unique expertise. As do I. I picked them well. And I am grateful.

Within six weeks the pain stopped and now I sleep again. My ‘soldiers’ are protecting me now.

Within a couple of months it was time to work on getting the markers down. Another dietary change and now they are well and truly falling. Almost ‘normal’ last week. I am doing cartwheels in my mind.

Within three months I saw the tumours on my CT scan starting to melt like snowflakes. One already gone. The others on their way. I plan to be clear by Christmas.

It’s early they said. We can fix it. Thank God.

And I am grateful for the pain. It made me do something.

I’ve learned a lot this year…


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