November is always a funny time for me. I think most people experience a sense of dread and even depression in this month. The days are getting shorter, the weather colder and the trees barer.
Autumn is a season I truly love. Mainly because I don’t suffer from hay fever at this moment in time, and it’s such a welcome relief after months of suffering. However, it also reminds me of difficult days and the change in time with the clocks going back makes it challenging to adjust to a new routine (mainly food- and sleep-related).
Ten years ago on 3rd November 2010, I tentatively stepped into the consultant’s office at Charing Cross. I’d already gone through the obligatory blood test – the wait for this always seemed unbearable and the weaker I was, the more difficult it was to exercise patience. I would sit doing crosswords, wiling away the time. But the further into my cancer treatment I got, the harder I found it to switch off. The surroundings weren’t pleasant and any little thing could trigger me, tipping me over the edge.
Even just to do the journey from Norfolk to London was overwhelming. However, for the first time, I was advised by my GP to take two diazepam. It definitely worked – I remember very little about the journey or the massage provided at Maggie’s.
So, the consultant broke the news to me that my hCG levels were finally below 5. This meant I was normal at last. It was explained to me that I would need a precautionary further three cycles to ensure the trophoblastic cells had been killed. The first three had been hellish, but knowing that they had worked so well meant I was determined to keep going. So, with a renewed sense of courage and resilience, I trundled off to South 6 for my next lot of IV chemo drugs. Of course, you’ll know that it was, rather than being the beginning of the end, the start of a much more terrifying and difficult journey.
Ten years of normality is questionable. But it is ten years since I was declared free of the cancerous cells. It is ten years of ups, downs and everything else in between. And, despite so many things not going to plan, I actually wouldn’t change it for the world. I find myself now in a position where I have two amazing daughters, a supportive and loving partner, a wonderful family and an incredible bunch of friends.