Another 6 months has come around too soon. Tomorrow I will drive 40 miles to Cambridge for what is commonly known as a ‘6 month check-up’, one of those things which all cancer survivors who are in remission are familiar with. Since my last check up I have managed to put all thoughts of cancer out of my mind for a good 90% of the time, but as soon as I step through those hospital doors tomorrow the butterflies will start up again.
I hate going to Addenbrooke’s Hospital. It reminds me of the dark days of zero thyroxine in my body, and of being pushed around the corridors in a wheelchair by Sam. The first time I had to have radioiodine treatment I had to spend the previous 2 weeks thyroxine-free. Those little white pills might be tiny, but boy oh boy your body tells you all about it when you cease taking them. Thyroxine-free, I managed to grind to an almost complete halt back in 2005, virtually unable to get up off the sofa, not even able to entertain the thought of walking to the Radioiodine Suite for my treatment from the hospital car park.
Twelve years later those same corridors still lead me to the Ultrasound Department, although I can walk along them quite easily now. Mum’s voice in my ear reminds me that sometimes in life we have to do things that we do not want to do. As usual I will give my name and address to the receptionist, and will then switch on my Kindle, hoping to take my mind off what is coming until my name is called.
I will probably have the same radiologist. He’s a lovely chap, but I know he’ll be looking for stray cancer cells in my neck. I will close my eyes, think pleasant thoughts, or imagine myself running to the car, jumping in it, and driving away.
Thankfully he tells me there and then whether he has found any. Usually he hasn’t, but there is always the nagging doubt in my mind as I lie down on the consultation couch that this time one or more lymph nodes may be enlarged. I remember how back in 2014 he saw two cancerous nodes, which eventually led to more surgery; a right neck dissection and a fourth dose of radioiodine treatment. But hey, since then all has been well and I must not start catastrophising!
It’s just too easy to catastrophise, imagining the next treatment of 6 weeks of external beam radiation, but to be quite honest thinking of the worst outcome serves no purpose at all. Stevie’s Cancer Survivors’ Guide advises waiting for the genuine results instead. I’m going to try and take my own advice, but I know I won’t get much sleep tonight…