I had my last radiotherapy session on Wednesday. I lay on the bed and the machine whirred around me and then the disembodied voice floated through and said “you’re done” and I was. I was truly, properly done.
The operations are over. The chemo is over. The radiotherapy is over. I’ll have a sore breast for a few weeks and I’ll be dealing with the side effects of Tamoxifen for the next five years, but the really, truly horrible bits are over. I hope.
There is no full stop to this journey. Just like there was no definitive start, but rather a drifting of perhapses and maybes and probablys, there is a similar vagueness here. I don’t get a final scan to confirm the cancer is gone – we just assume that it hasn’t grown back because it’s received such a blasting. I’ll get annual mammograms to check, and I’ll see my oncologist in July to get properly signed off, but that’s all. Not a bang or even a whimper – more a “move along please, there’s nothing to see here”.
I’d been warned, right back at the beginning, that this state of limbo would feel odd. Apparently, this is when lots of women pick up the phone and get back in touch with their breast nurse, uncertain about how to handle this sudden transition. Medical intervention has been a part of my life for so many months now, it feels like a crutch has been taken away. Don’t get me wrong – I hated every bit of it. But I suspect I have a slight case of Stockholm Syndrome – I have come to rely on my captor.
It will, of course, get easier. I will learn not to be afraid, not to see every minor ache and pain as a sign of something more sinister. And I will regain my hair, lose my extra weight, find tops which hide my scar. I will become me again – just maybe a different me to who I was before.
Part of that process will be, I think, stepping back from this blog for a bit. I have found it such a therapeutic tool, but it is time to channel my thoughts into something new. I realise that I have been hopeless at replying to those people who have been kind enough to leave comments – this is due to my technological incompetence more than anything else. I do hope those who have commented know how much I have appreciated their words – they have buoyed me up and made me feel like I’m not just screaming into the void.
And, at the risk of this sounding like some kind of macabre Oscars speech, thank you so much to all the friends and family who have supported me, R and H over the last few months. There has been a steady stream of flowers, chocolates, cards, letters, meals, gifts, messages and – most overwhelmingly – love. The paradox of this experience is that I have never felt more lucky at a time when I have been at my most unlucky.
So. I’ve come to what I hope is the end of this particular story. I am hoping there will not be a sequel.
After all, I have other things to write.