I’ve had two months thinking time and I am determined that however difficult the treatment is and however uncertain the outcomes, I must try to face this with good grace. I am very much aware of Dylan Thomas’s exhortation:
Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light
So there is no danger of my giving in passively waiting to die. However, one can’t fight alone. This is where I have been so touched by the words of support and kind actions from so many people. They probably have no idea just how much this helps us as a family.
The other thing which has also pleased both of us is the real kindness and concern of the medical personnel who have looked after us. After a day of very real numbness yesterday, I received a telephone call from my Southampton oncologist, Dr. M. He had regularly been sent letters from the Marsden keeping him abreast with my progress and when he learnt that there was suspicion that the mantle cell lymphoma had returned, he said he felt like phoning me but thought it might be unprofessional. However Dr. P from the Marsden telephoned him because at our meeting we had opted to go back under his care at Southampton General. Dr M and Dr P seem to have hit it off and my oncologist is impressed with the way the Marsden have communicated so there he was on the phone speaking at 100 miles per hour as usual.
He asked me if I was still with BUPA as there are several drugs not available on the NHS. He was the one who advised us that whatever we gave up, and living with cancer is very expensive, it should not be our medical insurance. He rattled off three drugs which he could use and arranged to see me today as he is anxious, as ever, to start with the treatment as soon as possible. I was overwhelmed. Of course he says every time that there is no cure, but he is so positive about finding a drug which will reduce the lymphoma that his confidence is infectious.
Straightaway I contacted BUPA for authorisation and they reminded me that if I should need chemotherapy, I would be able to have it at home. It is such a change from insurers who try to use the small print to prevent you from having what is rightfully yours.
So this is a fight but I hate it when people talk about someone losing the battle against cancer. Cancer may overwhelm us but anyone who has tried to live life whilst engaged in that battle cannot really be called a loser when fighting against such incredible odds. To talk about losing not only diminishes the sufferer but all those medical personnel who have done their best with current knowledge, and all those wonderful supporters with their words of sympathy, their thoughts and their prayers.