A couple of days later I was making the now familiar journey up to London to finally meet my oncologist (Liver mets guy-not eye). And to receive the dreaded MRI results. Taking the train from Hampton to Waterloo I looked around at the other passengers. I still do it now. Trying to imagine what people are travelling mid-morning to Waterloo for. The morning rush of workers has gone, so you are left with the others. Work commitments, lunch dates, shopping, interviews, the list can go on. I always wonder if anyone else on the train has a cancer appointment. I would like to meet them and talk to them and ask them how they feel? I wonder what my journey home will be like? Will I be distraught or jubilant? My phone beeps with messages of ‘good luck!’ and ‘we are thinking of you.’ I want to be the one sending those messages. I don’t want to be the one on the train.
Well my oncologist is a lovely smiley man. Very jolly. I feel like the cloud of doom walking into his office. Trying to match his sunny disposition, but failing miserably. He shakes my hand “hello! Your results are clear!” He has obviously been in this position many times. He knows that no one cares about the niceties now. No-one wants a “how are you?” or “how was your journey?” I smile and can match his sunny disposition. I try not to cry. “Thank you.”
We discuss the plan going forward. I would be meeting him every 6 months for the rest of my life to have an MRI. I would also be having a full body CT after my eye surgery just to check for any rogue cells elsewhere. I tell him how nervous I was waiting for the results. He explained that it would have been very unlikely to have had spread to my liver at initial diagnosis. Only about 5% of patients have it in their liver at this early stage. What? Yes he explained in his happy tone, it usually takes 2 years and 10 months on average to travel to the liver. Excuse me? I explain that my tumour is small, tiny, caught very early, therefore surely incapable of taking that long journey to my liver? “Hmm, sort of irrelevant. If it’s the aggressive type, it doesn’t matter how large or small it is.” Sunny smile. I felt like I was going to explode at his jolly attitude. He was very positive as he explained things are moving forward quickly, these new immunotherapies are having wonderful results. My husband asked why I couldn’t start on them right away then? It doesn’t work like that. By now I wasn’t really speaking. I couldn’t match his enthusiasm for immunotherapies. My happy balloon that had inflated over the room with a huge “it’s all clear” banner had just been annihilated. Not popped, but ripped and torn to pieces.
We left the office and replied to the messages from anxious family. “It’s all clear” was sent with the heaviest of hearts. There was no jubilant cheer. I was furious. F***ing cancer! I bloody hated it! I was not going to die and it better not dare go near my liver. I sent an e-mail to my happy oncologist.
“I’m sorry for being so miserable. I am actually determined to be your longest standing ocular melanoma patient ever!”
And I received the most wonderful response from the happiest man to be dealing with the most dreadful disease.
“Glad to hear this positive note! The human spirit knows no limits when it comes to facing up to life’s challenges. I will do my best for you also.”
Well with a team like that survival was the only option.