Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Unequal fights and battles.

This is not a blog about J but a rant about the unfairness of life sometimes.

I hate cancer, it’s the most godawful and unfair disease which can seemingly strike without warning and  has no certainties about it. In the same way I hate seeing terms and words like “fighting” cancer and "battling" because without a doubt you cannot “fight” or "battle" cancer. Fighting suggests equality and there is nothing equal in this fight, you take the treatment and you hope for the best. You keep a positive frame of mind (or perhaps are a positive person anyway) and if you are lucky the drugs will work and you will be cured. If you are not lucky the cancer will return and find somewhere else to take root. Then when you have your backache/painful leg etc a doctor will talk about “muscular pain” and treat accordingly before finally admitting defeat and suggesting a scan which shows the cancer has spread to your spine, leg, liver or anywhere else it feels like.

I don’t have cancer, I have seen plenty of people WITH cancer who fall into the “lucky” category and lived to tell the tale. I have met others who fell into the second category and are no longer with us. I am closer still to people who are IN the second category and still with us.

Both my aunties have cancer – both are women who have lived productive lives and given so much to others. One auntie is well and truly in remission following a rocky summer, the other auntie having had several periods of remission suddenly seems to be going downhill and there is nothing I or anyone else can do about it – there is no fight because without a doubt this disease will succeed sooner or hopefully later.

My auntie is a wonderful, warm and caring person, a mother, a wife and much loved sister. The past few years have been up and down since her diagnosis of uterine cancer three years ago. The cancer was a “Grade One” and “just about the lowest grade it could be”. Other memorable phrases are “this cancer is contained – it doesn’t go anywhere” (forgive me here while I have a hollow laugh), and “as an insurance you could have some radiotherapy” (my aunt did).

So fast forward a few months and she is bleeding “it’s a polyp” (oh yeah) and even more months while she waited for a consultant appointment to be told the polyp had “changed”. Surgery followed and results showed spread of the initial cancer. More Radiotherapy followed and things settled apart from lower leg pain which was deemed “muscular pain” for months and months before a GP finally arranged an X-Ray which showed changes in the bone (you don’t need to be Einstein to work out what these changes were).

Next Consultant appointment:-

“Oh it’s spread to the lower leg – gosh that’s rare” (No sh*t Sherlock – that’s why you’ve been confidently saying “muscle pain” for the past few months then). Surgery followed and a pin to prevent the bone breaking was inserted. Fast forward another year and “my gosh that’s not really working either – let’s get a second opinion from Stanmore” (if only they had done this initially).

The Professor at Stanmore was lovely and experienced and recommended “an above knee amputation in the New Year – either here or at your local hospital” (Stanmore Stanmore Stanmore NOT the local hospital with doctors who told my aunt her lower leg pain was “muscular” so many times).

Just two weeks on things are changing, a bad dog bite to her hand has meant more surgery for my aunt and she is becoming forgetful and unable to get her words out. She looks tired and unwell despite several days of antibiotics (including IV antibiotics), painkillers and a blood transfusion following surgery at the weekend. More worryingly when my Mum was helping my aunt dress when she was discharged from hospital she noticed a large swelling just below the shoulder blade. I am so angry about the waits she endured earlier on in her treatment because we just don’t know if more urgent treatment would have made a difference. Now all we can do is support her, love her and make sure she does not feel isolated and alone (not likely with my wonderful 85 year old Uncle who is doing everything for her). We are visiting when we can and getting bits in for her – she is eating and drinking and still on good form but frustrated by her inability to find the words she wants to. I feel the next few weeks will bring more information and I am not confident this information will be positive.


Moonroot said...

So sorry to hear this. It feels inadequate to send you hugs, but I'm sending them anyway. XXX

Oya's Daughter said...

I have a friend in a similar situation. She has just had one of her darker moments as she was given all of her life insurance money back by her insurance company, and it really brought it home for her: it's terminal, end of.

She is a similar pagan-y type as I am and both our respective Powers Wot Be are rather on the darker side so we can talk about this sort of thing openly together (she wants to be buried in a particular spot and we discussed all sorts of things about the end of her days with no tears).

I've had three friends fall to cancer but I do think it was a battle. They fought to the last, whether they knew it was a fair fight or not. They weren't going to give in even to the last moment, and my friend shows no signs of giving up either. "Cancer chose the wrong b*tch". She's awesome.

As my greatgrandmother said "grief is for the living, the dead don't care, so weep NOW while you feel it."

My commiserations.