Friday 9th March ( 3 days after my top up treatment) and I was back to the hospital to see my consultant.
It would be the first time I’d seen Dr Evans since I’d started my treatment so I was keen to find out how she thought I was doing. I’m not sure what I was expecting to be told but I knew I was looking to hear some words of reassurance that everything was going well and I was going to be ‘OK’.
Each time you see your consultant during treatment you’ll likely need to have your bloods taken. It’s important that your bloods show you are well / strong enough to start the next cycle of treatment.
After I had my bloods done, my name was called. In I went to see Dr Evans. The appointment consisted of her finding out how I was feeling, how I found treatment and if I’d had any significant side effects. In true Dr Evans style she managed to make me feel relaxed and supported, almost that she was on this journey with me. In some way, I guess her and all the other consultants out there looking after patients are!
I tried to be as positive as I could in the appointment as I wanted to appear as strong as possible even though deep down I was scared and dreading going back for round two.
On the whole, the feedback I received from Dr Evans was positive, I was responding well to treatment and the ‘Tumour Lysis’ was now under control. The only slight concern / cautionary comment was regarding my bloods which had showed I had a pretty non existent immune system. If it is too low, you simply can’t start treatment. However, with 3 days left before my next cycle would begin and the importance of continuing treatment according to the plan, it was decided I would be strong enough to continue. It was time to head back home for the weekend.
Over the weekend we had some friends come over to our house to see us both. With confirmation all were ‘germ and cold’ free it was nice to see some familiar faces. Although I wasn’t feeling myself and we were limited to just chatting rather than going out like we normally would, it was nice to know there were friends of ours that took the time to visit both Robin and I. It was nice knowing they were ‘there’ for us. If you’re a friend or relative of someone on their cancer journey, please reach out to them as much as you can. Even if you live miles away, it’s nice knowing people close to you are thinking of you and available to chat.
With the weekend over, Tuesday 13th March soon arrived. It was time for treatment cycle number two!
Bags packed (a little lighter than the first time around), calendar count down chart in hand, Robin and I headed over to the hospital. First stop though was to get Robin checked in to the hotel she’d be staying at for the next 4 nights. As convenient as it was for her to be so close to the hospital, I felt so bad that my wife was having to stay in a hotel on her own, away from her home because of me. Hotel stays should be for enjoyable ‘leisure breaks’ or if work requires a ‘business trip away’ not for the reason we were using them for, it just didn’t seem right.
Checked in, we drove across to the hospital. Nervous, apprehensive and knowing what was about to come my way in the next 5 days in to the ward we walked.
Greeted by one of the fantastic nursing staff, I gave my name and they pointed to a corridor and said “you’re in room 4 and it’s ready for you”. Bags in hand, we walked towards room 4, it was on a different wing to the private room I’d had on my first stay so things didn’t feel as familiar. I spotted the sign on the wall ‘room 4’. Not only was it room number 4, it was a room for 4 people. My heart sank. The faces of 3 men greeted me, each looked in the very late stages of their life; both from an age and health outlook.
I absolutely get it, I shouldn’t be judging them! But when my mind is in a deep dark place, I need to see youthful, healthy looking people, certainly if I’m going to be sharing the next 5 days with them. All throughout this journey, the doctors, consultant, family and friends would tell me how important ‘my mental state’ was to me getting through the treatment and I knew from the out, this room was going to be a problem for me.
Without saying a word, I put my bag down and walked out of the room, down the corridor and out of the ward on to the landing area. Robin quickly followed and she knew exactly what was up. I broke down in to tears and said “I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t have my treatment in that room with those men”. Robin said “I’ll sort it”.
I left her and headed down to the coffee shop to try and get my head together and think of a solution. Perhaps I could stay in the hotel at the end of each day once treatment had finished? Or even commute from home? Every option was going through my mind, just as long as I was in a room either with young people or a room on my own. After what seemed like forever, Robin returned and gave me the great news. The doctor had agreed I shouldn’t have been in a room with people much, much older than me and with some of the ailments they had.
It was the first time I had broken down in the hospital and it was clear to me how much the environment I was being treated in was to have either a positive or negative impact in my state of mind. Thankfully on this occasion, there was a solution that suited all and one that I am very thankful of.
The room I was to be put in was on the ‘Young persons ward / teenage cancer unit” which was at the end of the corridor I’d previously been treated on.
Walking on to the ward, made me realise that cancer really does choose anyone at any age. A scary thought and one that was to put my journey in to even more perspective. I thought I was young to have cancer, and I’m sure many would agree. It was only being on a ward that treats the ‘really’ young that makes you realise just how fragile and for want of a better word ‘unfair’ life can be.
Once settled in, it was time to start treatment once again!
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