The Big One
The 100 day scan, it is as it sounds, it’s basically the full body scan approximately 100 days post transplant in order to determine if the transplant worked or not, it’s the big one, the important one.
I don’t know if I have ever felt so sick with nerves leading up to this scan. I got the impression after relapsing that this transplant was my last chance. I beat cancer the first time when I was treated in St Vincent’s Hospital, but relapsing and ending up in St James’s Hospital for the bone marrow transplant felt like my second and last chance at beating cancer.
I had maintained a sense of calmness after being diagnosed the first time, mainly due to the fact that my specialist told me outright that it was pretty bad, so they were going to treat me aggressively and because of that the treatment would work. He told me I would get back to my normal life, well, as normal as it can get after recovering from cancer, and that I would be able to return to running, and that’s what helped me maintain so much motivation.
This time was different, after hearing it was back I went in to a huge state of shock, relapsing after 9 months, it can’t be good, it didn’t sound good what they were saying, there was no positive talk, nothing to hold on to, nobody telling me that I’ll be ok or that you’ve a good chance, I was just told that we needed to start treatment straight away, and then move on to the bone marrow transplant.
Questions started to float around my head, apart from the very obvious why me question, questions I purposely avoided asking myself the first time…
What if it didn’t work? Would there really be any other options left if it didn’t? If it didn’t work does that mean my cancer was just too aggressive? Would I make it to Christmas? Would I make it to my birthday next year? Would I be able to take an awesome trip abroad and do some really cool things? If I didn’t make it, would it be painful? Would they give me heavy medication to make it less painful? If they did that, would it mean I would just be out of it for that time? How long would I have? Would I need to go make a will? What will I do with my house? What will I do with my belongings? How would I tell people? What would my family do? Would I just move home? How would I tell my girlfriend? How can I have brought so much heart ache in to her life? In to the lives of her family? How would she cope? What could I do to help her cope better?
The list of questions goes on, I was 33 years old, those questions should not have been running through my mind!
My transplant nurse knew I was extremely anxious leading up to the scan, she was always trying to help me relax. I remember she kept reminding me of how well I was doing, and telling me about patients she looks after that still attend the clinic who had a transplant 19/20 years ago and who are still flying along, not a bother on them. I took it, I needed something to cling on to, any positivity whatsoever, it’s all I had to hold on to.
In I went for the scan on the 14th of June 2017, all those questions went running through my head again, as I slowly went through the machine, the noise of it, another scan, tired of scans, tired of hospitals, tired of being so anxious. You can see the radiographers looking at the screen, knowing that they can probably see if it’s good or not, but you can’t ask. You look at their facial expressions, you wonder, you think just tell me now, but they can’t and that’s not how it works. I learned to not to look over at them, I didn’t want to start guessing games based on possible facial expressions. Off home I went after, and then comes the wait.
The wait is awful, everything is done, the scan is complete, off back home to try and get on with things as you wait for the news. You can’t really get on with things. It’s an awful wait. It’d be a good few days before I heard back, so I lay on the couch for a few hours waiting for my girlfriend to get home, my phone rings, it’s my transplant nurse and before saying anything else she just blurted out that I got the all clear. I was in shock, I only had the scan a few hours ago and you never hear back so quick, it usually takes a few days. She confirmed that the results came back all good, I couldn’t believe it. I was shaking, a little while later my girlfriend arrived home and off I went outside to let her know the great news. Relief. She nearly didn’t believe me because I had only been home a few hours since the scan and you never find out results the same day, except today, my transplant nurse wanted to put me out of my misery from the wait.
Cream cakes were on the menu that night 🙂
I wasn’t allowed to drink alcohol due to the medication and diet that I was on, but I needed a drink, I needed a calm me down, the news was too huge, so off out we went a few days later, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, time for a little celebratory drink, and not to forget a packet of crisps with my beer…
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NEXT BLOG: Time to rebuild, again!