My second day as a cancer patient started, as I dare say it does for many of us, with a hangover. Having said that, the rest of the day after leaving the hospital yesterday wasn’t as bad as I would have imagined. Sure, there were some tears but only in brief bursts. Starting a blog was cathartic and it gives me an outlet to get stuff off my chest instead of wallowing in self pity.
With the experience of both my parents’ cancers under my belt, I was under no illusions about life being ‘fair’. So when I was diagnosed I did not have to struggle with the feelings of outrageous injustice that might otherwise have been the case.
It was like that when my father was diagnosed and I did not deal with it well at the time. The poor man had quit smoking five years before. But after 60 a day for most of his adult life, the damage had already been done. He was given three months to live but only got half that. It was very traumatic for all of us to see him being taken so quickly and unceremoniously.
When my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer it, of course, came as a terrible blow. But she responded well to the treatment and got a year of remission. However, despite appearing to be in good health, the cancer returned and took her away from us last year.
So by the time it came to my turn for a diagnosis, I was as prepared for it as I could be. Prof. FitzPatrick was at pains yesterday to stress that the plan is to cure my cancer. So that is the plan and life has to go on in the meantime. There is also my six-year-old daughter, Grace, to consider.
Naturally, we’re not telling her there is anything wrong. When the time comes, we’ll have to explain Daddy being in hospital for a week, when I go in for the surgery. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
In truth, the absolute worst thing about having cancer is the thought of your young child at your funeral and your not being around to see her grow up afterwards. I’m a long way from that scenario being borne out and hopefully Grace will be a grown woman by the time my time comes, hopefully at a ripe old age.
I have never been one to fear death in itself. I like to think I have a healthy, philosophical attitude to the great inevitability that every one of us faces sooner or later. I’ve never really understood the social taboo about discussing death except in a religious context (which I don’t subscribe to) or in the most superficial, clichéd terms. Life is only a ‘temporary little arrangement’ (to paraphrase Albert Reynolds’ famous description of a past coalition government) so there is no reason why anyone should feel cheated by or morbid about dying. We are all going to die. It’s just a question of when and how and, not least, how we live our lives in the meantime.
I don’t know what the statistics are for recovery from prostate cancer but I’m hearing a lot of anecdotes about men who have survived it. By all accounts, if you’re going to get cancer, prostate is the one you want! Suffice to say, I will be looking into this further so I hope my research bears it out.
It would be a mistake to take from the above that I’m fatalistic about my cancer. I’m actually feeling generally positive about it all. I’ve always liked the saying ‘that which does not kill me makes me stronger’. What will be will be and if I survive this I’ll be a better person for it.
What worries me now is what the bone and MRI scans will reveal. I’m actually looking forward to the surgery to have this troublesome gland whipped out and good riddance to it! But if the scans show that the cancer has spread from my prostate I’ll be in trouble.
I really, really hope the scans will tell me what I want to hear. I had hoped the biopsy would do that but it didn’t.
So it’s a waiting game. Tick tock, tick tock……