What a truly incredible week. After months of anxiety and uncertainty about whether I’d made the right decision about treatment, whether the treatment would work, what would happen if it didn’t – Monday’s good scan results were just brilliant. I’m still revelling in the lovely feeling of knowing that in the very unfair battle between the treatment and the cancer – the treatment, for now, appears to be winning. I’ve said before that I hate the battle analogies as it always suggests that there’s an element of choice or that if you die you’ve not fought hard enough which so clearly isn’t the case. However in relation to the specifics of cancer and treatment I do feel as though the two things are pitted against each other and I’m always at my happiest when the treatment is winning! As well as the obvious – regression in tumours is far superior to progression – it also makes the 3 weekly Pembro infusions with their accompanying fatigue very very worthwhile.
As the news on Monday was so good we were therefore able to book a holiday. For the last 6 years we’ve always had to book very last minute as it’s so hard to make any plans until I know if things are looking good or bad scan-wise. The downside is that there are fewer options and they tend to be more expensive but generally we always find something lovely and this year looks to be no exception. We’re going for a full two weeks – which is a first for us as a family. Miraculously for the first time since 2013 I’ve also managed to find travel insurance that’ll cover the melanoma. When I last tried, countless companies turned me down as they objected to various aspects of my disease (as did I) but it shows how much the landscape of melanoma treatment has progressed and changed. The insurance system recognised Pembrolizumab as a treatment, plus, unlike last time, I’m on an approved treatment rather than a trial, no longer on strong painkillers and am feeling active and well. The process of getting insurance is still pretty grim as you get asked exactly where the cancer has spread to and found myself nervously saying that no it hadn’t yet spread to my brain or my bones but it is lurking in my liver and lymph nodes. It’s a very stark reminder of what a shitty disease cancer is and not an experience I’d like to repeat too often but at least – unlike last time – they actually approved me.
However the most amazing thing this week has been that Oscar, my eldest, finished primary school. This was always going to be a momentous day – all parents must find these milestones quite emotional but as I sat there yesterday in his Leaver’s assembly I really was struck by what an incredible miracle it was for me to be there. Oscar was just starting year 3 when I was told I had months not years and I genuinely couldn’t really imagine seeing him get to the end of that year. Every year since I have been struck by how extraordinary it is that I was there for the end of year 3, year 4, year 5 and now year 6. I couldn’t be more proud of how amazingly he has done. For so much of his school life my cancer has been in the background and yet he has just got on with it. He has never used it as an excuse and has just continued to work hard and behave well – what more could I want. His end of term report was amazing and to top it all off he was one of two to receive a little trophy for their Outstanding Writing ability.
So despite being a little sleepy from treatment and knowing that I’m due 2 more during the holidays I’m feeling very happy and very lucky and very excited about a lovely long summer with my boys. Unless some sneaky side effects kick in I can relax now until the next scan which is a couple of months away so for now all really rather good.