Thursday, December 30, 2010


Today was results day when I was told the results of the last CT scan.
I have learned not to underestimate the scanxiety I feel on such days, my whole life seems to hang in the balance, dependent on what the radiologist has been able to determine by comparing one scan to another.
Today was particularly bad. The Hand Foot syndrome that I have been suffering from has been so severe that six weeks ago the oncologist decided to lower the dose of capecitabine that I have been taking. Sadly this has done little to minimise either the syndrome or the damage and pain it causes. I was about to learn whether or not the reduction in the drug had affected the efficacy of the treatment.
Had the cancer continued to shrink on this lower dose?
Was the treatment worth the pain and suffering caused by the side-effects?
I needed to know, but was a little scared of what the scan might reveal.
I dreaded being told that it showed disease progression.
Thank God the results were positive and the scan showed a further shrinkage of the cancer.
Just 3mm, but that's 3mm less cancer clogging up and blocking my airway!
Moreover, I have now had three scans in a row where the cancer has shrunk!
It has never shrunk by a great amount, but just enough to provide a steady and consistent improvement in my condition.

The extent to which I had been suffering from scanxiety was evident in the fact that the dominant emotion I felt on receiving the news was relief - not joy.  If I'm honest, it felt as though I had been given a small but very significant reminder of the real value of hope as a counter to despair. I am sure that joy will come later as the realization dawns on me that I really have been making slow but steady progress for the last three months on this treatment.

For now, I am content to know that God's gift to me this Christmas is small, but profound:

3mm = hope for the future, and a life worth living in the present.