Life & Death in a Doctor's Notepad
"Waiting outside the doctors room, always on a Wednesday, waiting for the result with the inescapable feeling that he has life and death right there in his note pad. You think, 'if I don't go, I wont know and I can go away in ignorance'. That's only short-term escapism I know but I can't tell you how many times that that thought has run through my head. Sometimes they were running late! Sheer agony, mental torture. I know that they are busy but do they realise what it does to cancer patients?
"And then it's your turn, you're in and the doctor comes in the room. Its like that insidious game of 'Russian roulette'. He has a gun, there are lots of empty chambers but inside one of them is definitely a bullet. Of that there can be no argument. He starts talking -the equivalent of picking up the gun and pulling on the trigger- and then "click"! The score is still low, I have 3 more months. Relief, smiles, thank-you's... and you are out the door.
"But not every time, I have been in the room and its gone "bang!", the score is increasing. It's doubled in 3 weeks so do the maths. Cancer is like bacteria, so if it doubles every 3 weeks a low score of, say, 10, becomes uncontrollable with a score of over 1,000 in less than 6 months.
"On the way home it's just like suffering from shock. All the anxiety of the previous days and final hours are suddenly gone and now, in it's place, is a dull emptiness. But then one day even though the score was still low (good) I am told that I need to go on to monthly blood tests. Again, sheer panic sets in. Flippantly I am told that I have done so well on the drugs that they are expecting them to fail soon and when they do they may fail spectacularly, so 3 months is too long to wait between tests.
"Should I be happy about surviving so long or scared about being told it will may grow very fast when these drugs fail? Not only that but now the cycle of 3 months, or even 2 months, is now down to a monthly panic. It is now a 1-month panic, 1-month panic, 1-month panic."
"I get to play Russian roulette lots more now and we all know what that means; great."