Released On 16th Sep 2019
Addy's blog: The "C" word
Most people hate hearing the “C” word, and get very angry and upset when it’s said. But I'm going to say it, here on this blog. I have Cancer. There I said it; I used the “C” word.
It’s been a whirlwind couple of months so I’ll give you the PowerPoint highlights and spare you all the Excel details. It all started with a few simple tests, then onto more in-depth ones, multiple types of scans, to a formal diagnosis of rectal cancer 4 weeks ago. I have a T3 a/b 6.5cm tumour in my colon, which thankfully hasn’t spread. I am 41 years old - only 2,500 people a year (that’s 0.004% of the population) are diagnosed with this type of cancer under 50; it’s the second most common type with the fourth largest mortality rate.
As you can imagine I’ve been through a spectrum of emotions over the past weeks, and I’ve had a variety of reactions to my news; shock, silence, sadness, tears, outrage, stoicism. But the prevailing question almost everyone has asked is how did you know/find out/go looking. Again, PowerPoint not Excel here, but a change of habit that persisted started the process.
I am trying to stay positive and keep healthy (aside from the very boring white diet I have been put on), so I’m keeping up with yoga and the gym whilst I can. I’ve started looking at money and putting things in “order”, and my previous cautionary outlook to life with regards to insurance policies should mean we have enough if I can’t work, or the worst happens. Mostly I’m very pragmatic about having cancer, but random things set me off into floods of tears – first day of school was fine, but preparing for it and seeing my kids in their new uniforms needed a box of tissues. Reading a Topsy and Tim book about counting the stars on the Christmas tree also saddened me, will this Christmas be my last?
What on earth do I tell my kids? They are too little to understand cancer, so they just know I have a poorly tummy. My youngest asked me after a recent hospital trip to see my tummy doctor if I’d been “very brave?”. More tears but a lot of smiles at that too – and no mummy didn’t get a sticker.
Due to the type of cancer, treatment will be five weeks of radiotherapy and chemotherapy combined. The former at hospital everyday during the week and the latter by tablets twice a day. The list of side effects is very long, quite unpleasant and some permanent. Following treatment, I have to wait an agonising eight weeks before a slew of more scans to see what the tumour has done, then probably surgery to cut it out and see if I need more radiotherapy. Its going to be an interesting six months.
So, I’ve decided to something a bit mad, and very much outside my comfort zone, particularly as I’m petrified of heights. To mark the start of my treatment “journey” and to raise money for Macmillan, I’m going to climb the O2 the day after I start my radiotherapy and chemotherapy. I know, bonkers – but I just have to do something to prove to myself that I am still alive and in charge. Macmillan are a fantastic charity who are so supportive of anyone affected by cancer, so please support them at an upcoming coffee morning or by sponsoring me via Just Giving.
I am 41 years old - I’m not scared of dying, I’m scared of not living. I have a four-year-old son and three-year-old daughter, a wonderful husband of many years, and many people in my life that I am proud to call my friends and family. I refuse point-blank to give in to this nasty, horrible thing that’s invading my body. My prognosis is good, but I still have cancer and the treatment to rid me of it will change my life and leave me with permeant side effects, but they are all worth it if I get to see my kids grow up.
Addy is a director in risk for a bank in the city, with a 4-year-old trainee F1 driver, a 3-year-old aspiring space doctor, a lovely hands on husband and two mad rescue cats.