My chemo is working, my scans are stable and my cancer has shrunk a tiny bit

IT turns out that I got a bonus, belated birthday present this week.

Just turning 40 earlier this month was more than I could ever have asked for.

But, this week I got some equally great news when my doctor told me: ‘Your chemo is working’.

It’s the words I’ve been hoping to hear for the last three months, words I never dared to believe could be true.

This week, I had the first scans since re-starting chemo, and they showed my cancer is stable.

It’s the best I could hope for, and means there aren’t new tumours lurking, growing out of control somewhere new.

To be honest, it hasn’t really sunk in yet.

It doesn’t really change my reality, apart from confirming that I must plough on with hardcore chemo to stay alive.

It hasn’t suddenly made my horrific side effects disappear, and it won’t stop me feeling completely rank on a daily basis.

And it definitely doesn’t mean I can ease up on my treatment plan. 

Despite all that, I am happy. Really happy. 

I spend my days walking such a fine tightrope, trying to find a way to stay hopeful in the relentless rounds of treatment, existing scan to scan, always questioning if I’m living or dying?

I’ve been telling my nearest and dearest for the last month that I think I must be dying.

‘Scanxiety’ is very real, and never more so in my cancer journey than this time.

Each and every time, I run through 100 different scenarios and prepare for the worst.

I try to second guess the results, but the reality is I never can.

I’ve been telling my nearest and dearest for the last month that I think I must be dying.

That’s how bad my stomach pain and vomiting has been.

Some days I find it challenging to even leave the house – and my mind automatically assumes it must be my cancer growing again.

How can it not be?

But as it turns out, it really is ‘just’ the hideous side effects of cancer treatment.


It’s hard for my mind to know where the cancer starts, and the side effects and anxiety end.

I’ll be honest, I have been putting these latest scans off for a while.

While there wasn’t any urgent clinical need to have them any earlier, I was determined to get through my 40th and deal with the reality of my cancer afterwards.

So this week, I’ve been a bit of a mess.

I’ve been ploughing on with chemo regardless, and between the odd extra emergency scan to check for blood clots, and my dodgy tummy, my mind has been all over the place.

And it’s made worse seeing tributes from the funerals of young cancer patients I knew through social media.

Sometimes I have to shut down, not because I don’t care, but because I am only able to keep myself afloat at times.

Stable scans is the best result I can ever hope for, the best out of a pretty sh*tty situation.


Actually, my results show it’s almost a bit better than stable. 

For the first time ever on chemo some of my cancer ‘nodes’ have actually shrunk.

And the mess that was my liver is at least today stable, and nothing nasty and new has popped up.

Having said that, I can’t dwell on it because we all know this is a fleeting moment in a roller coaster of highs and lows.

I’m so thankful, and very relieved to be given another ticket to more time, kicking the can down the road a little further.

It’s time I so desperately need, in the hope that some magic bullet treatment might come along just in time.

But, in the nearly five years since my diagnosis, I’ve also learned enough to celebrate and acknowledge these highs, while being realistic about the fine line of hope I continue to tread.

Three months ago I couldn’t even entertain the thought of where I am right now.

The drugs that were keeping me alive had stopped working and my liver was failing.

I’d just had an emergency stent in my bile duct and I remember asking my oncologist if it was the beginning of the end?

I might even let myself think about celebrating Christmas, and celebrating that next major milestone – five years since diagnosis.

I remember him telling me not to write myself off just yet.

He told me we needed to focus on sorting my liver and getting me back on chemo.

Quite simply if it hadn’t been working, I would most likely be dead by now.

I knew my cancer was growing rapidly and in dangerous places.

It had to be stopped and sometimes ‘nuclear’ chemo is the only way.

But so far, I have only managed five cycles of this hardcore regime, and I keep thinking, ‘what if it doesn’t work?’.

Then what? I’m up sh*t creek without a paddle.


So to find myself in this position now, where I’ve been granted another mini miracle in my journey living with this disease, is overwhelming.

I hoped for it, but I had prepared myself for the worst at the same time.

Too many times in the last five years I have been left disappointed when bad scan results come in.

So for once, in a long time this result means my tightrope has been made a little wider in the short term. 

It means I might even let myself think about celebrating Christmas, and celebrating that next major milestone – five years since diagnosis.

I was given a tiny chance of reaching five years, just 8 per cent.

But maybe there is more time around that corner, and perhaps taking it one step at a time is the only thing I can do to plough on.

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