The bairns went back to school on Monday, and I achieved my objective by walking them there on their first day. Back in January, the last time I walked them to school before the rug was pulled out from under us, I had two people, who I didn’t know to speak to, ask if they could talk Imy and Felix to school for me as I was obviously struggling with pain. When I got the kids to school, I actually joked with my friends that I’d diagnosed myself with tumours in my back, and then laughed, I couldn’t be that unlucky! How little I knew. Even at that point, I don’t think I really understood how cancer could manifest itself in the spine. I thought the tumours would be on the outside, attached to the vertebrae. I hadn’t realised that the cancer could grow inside a vertebrae. Little did Ross and I know we’d be on a very steep learning curve. Walking the kids to school has always been an indication of my “Normal”. It’s something I’ve missed doing. That and driving. My “Normal” indicators. If I can’t do either of them, something is not right. At the minute, I need to be kind to myself and build up my stamina. I managed two school runs on Monday, but only one on Tuesday, as I also had to do a Tesco shop. That left me shattered, and I was aching everywhere. Thankfully Ross was around to pick up the slack. I’ll try again tomorrow, but I think I was unrealistic in thinking I could do 5 days of school runs from a standing start.
My last blog post was written halfway through my two week radiotherapy course. I had been suffering terribly with sickness. It was awful, however, it was acute, and only lasted for that first week, and was controlled by the medication prescribed by my Oncologist. The second week, unfortunately, the problem changed direction and I was hit with a bout of diarrhoea. Immodium was advised and I had to just crack on. My course was due to finish on a Monday as I’d had a day off for Herceptin. Unfortunately, this looked to be in jeopardy when Big Bertha the radiotherapy machine was declared out of action on the Friday. Thankfully, a new part was fitted, and I was called in on the Saturday morning to catch up. Ross had never been with me to the Radiotherapy Centre in Elstree, despite going there every week day for thee weeks back in 2014, and everyday for two weeks this time. I’ve always been taken by a taxi. As I had to go for an extra session on a Saturday, he was able to see where I had been going. Once I’d caught up, and then had the last session on the Monday, we were ready to go on holiday.
We were very excited to be going up to North Norfolk’s coast to stay in our friend Tracey’s holiday home. The weather was great, and that week we swam in the sea, went crabbing from Cromer Pier, ate some fabulous food, blew glass, chilled out, cycled around Holkham estate, played in the arcade, and generally spent some quality family time together. I was able to take things easy if I needed to, and the kids could mess about in the garden. It was a great holiday. Just what the doctor ordered!
Whilst on holiday we implemented a technical device ban, and the kids were absolutely brilliant. They occupied themselves playing with the Snap Circuits Felix got for his birthday, or playing football in the garden, or drawing. I was the one who broke the rule, checking my email and Facebook every so often. As it turns out, in amongst the nonsense emails from Next, IKEA, Marks and Spencer and John Lewis, was one we’d been waiting for from the Oncologist. It was the pathology results from the sample taken during my spinal surgery in June. We already knew that they’d found active cancer cells, but we were waiting for further analysis to see if it was HER2+. The email confirmed that it was HER2+. This means that despite me starting Herceptin in January and having 7 infusions, on top of Cyberknife, and hormone suppressant therapy, the cancer had continued to grow. This shouldn’t have been the case.
When we got back home I had a catch up with my Oncologist. He wanted to see how I was after the radiotherapy. He explained that the dark coloured square of skin on my back may well become thickened and that I may get a darkened square of my front as well due to the way the radiotherapy works. I also wanted to question why I wasn’t being given chemotherapy. One of the things we had been led to believe was that if cancerous cells were found to be active in my spine when I had the surgery, then I’d have chemo. It was explained to us, that the existing regime is keeping any new tumours in check, and if I were to have chemo now, there would be no way of measuring it’s effectiveness. So, it’s being kept in reserve for future use.
The final two weeks of the holiday were taken up with rugby camp, new uniform shopping, getting haircuts, etc. On the very last day of the holiday with only the weekend before starting school, we went to the Harry Potter tour in North West London. This had very kindly been given to us by our former colleagues at MediaTel. What a day! I first read Philosopher’s Stone when I was working at MediaTel and went to see the first film with the ladies on the J-ET team. The tour did not disappoint. It gave us an insight into how the film was made, the detail that was created, even things that were made, only to be on screen for a split second! The model castle at he end of the tour was stunning. We certainly won’t forget the day, and will be proudly wearing our Hogwart’s T-Shirt or Hoodie whenever possible.
And so we begin the new school year with Imy in Year 6 and Felix in Year 4 and the knowledge that in the next two months, we have to apply for Imogen’s senior school place. I’m not sure I’m ready for that.