"No further follow-up required" is just what I wanted to see on the post-procedure report that I clutched as I left the day-stay part of the hospital last week after my gastroscopy. It had been a year since the last one and nearly 4 years since my diagnosis. I guess that, after nearly 40 months of looking at a healthy oesophagus, my gastroenterologist acknowledged that his skills and time would be better used elsewhere - I couldn't agree more! It feels even better than I imagined it might to have no date on my calendar to dread for months! I still have to keep the annual appointment with the oncology department in July but I imagine that, with no further reports coming in from the specialist after this, I won't be required to front up there any longer either.
I find myself reflecting on some of the lessons learnt along the way and remembering all the love, practical help and prayer that sustained and supported us when we were in the midst of diagnostic tests and treatment and had no idea of what the outcome of it all would be... it is a humbling experience to realise how little control we had over the direction our lives would take.
As I think I've alluded to before, I have struggled to fully reclaim my health - learning to trust my body again, and my interpretation of what it is signalling to me, has been a slow process.
An annoying cough that persisted for weeks at the end of last year was exhausting and concerning enough to warrant blood tests and chest x-rays. It was a relief to find that instead of lung mets I merely had whooping cough (pertussis), which a course of oral prednisone settled very quickly (and brought some peace and quiet to my home and work-place!)
Some regular massage sessions on my neck and shoulders and three visits to a lovely counsellor last year helped me to manage my tension and develop a healthier perspective on life this side of cancer treatment. It's hard to believe that I felt bad enough to seek that support only a few months ago, but I'm glad I did. Being vulnerable enough to ask for help when I'm not coping alone is something I hope I can sustain.
Being able to lend an understanding ear when friends have been diagnosed with cancer recently has been a privilege - but it doesn't make watching them go through it any easier ...
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