It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
Another long stretch of no blogging – so sorry – like I said, sometimes I don’t blog because we’re so happily busy, and sometimes there are the dark days when I don’t dare blog for fear of spewing pain over the lovely white pages waiting to reflect my sadness and despair. A few diary entries to help us catch up:
18 January: Happy day. The results of the bone scan will be available on Sunday, 20 Jan. One of the highlights for me yesterday was late afternoon: We drove out and found a sand dune not far from our house, where we could see the airplanes come in to land (on final approach) we listened to Nightwish and watched the planes land and the setting sun painted the sky orange and pink and everywhere around us, and in us and through us swirled delicate ribbons of Octarine.
24 January: Happy day. Oh my word, I still haven’t posted this – it is an old weakness of mine, unwritten letters used to clutter my desks from home to home. So on Thursday it was Tinus’ birthday, on Friday we went to his company’s beginning of year function, it was lovely – based on the X-Factor idea, people in the company performed singing, dancing and acting pieces. Sadly the guys far outshone the girls. Saturday was the appointment with doc, the bone scan result: “The appearance of the activity at the left humeral head medially with the subtle CT change is probably suggestive of solitary lytic lesion.”
This is very typical of what we are dealing with on a regular basis. Firstly the doctors are very reluctant to commit to any opinion, and then there are the words. Having cancer in the family certainly increased our vocabulary. Anyway, so if you ask Google you will see that a lytic lesion is an area of a bone that has been infected by cancer, or a fungal infection, another type of infection or TB.
So we’re still not sure. On Sunday I had the first meeting with the new South African Women’s Association’s photography club – it was great, really looking forward to seeing where this is going. On Monday Tinus was scheduled for a biopsy (EBUB), I scrambled around trying to manage the logistics around getting Tinus to the hospital and the kids to and back from school between their various extra murals. The Monday biopsy was then postponed till Tuesday at which point I decided to let the kids stay home from school for the day. Sometimes I just wish all the other things can be put on hold so we can focus on this one thing. The biopsy went fine but I didn’t see the doctor afterwards, appointment scheduled for Saturday.
Tinus said that he now wants to start the chemo even if the doctor thinks he’s got a good chance of removing the cancer in the lower lung by means of surgery. If he gets surgery now it will be another six weeks before they can start chemo and he doesn’t want to take the risk of waiting any longer.
Today is Thursday, the Prophet’s birthday, a lovely lazy stay-at-home day. We actually fled to miss the volumous joyful celebrations we expect to be echoing from the mosque speakers shortly to a lovely little place I’ve recently discovered called Café Retro. The two of us are sitting here side by side on a sofa with the faces of The Beatles quilted onto it, jazz music playing in the background and the remnants of our two “shots of ginger and honey” on the table in front of us. (Dis lekkerrr want dis gesond) Mmm yeah, here and now, life is good.
7 April: And here we are today; Tinus is busy getting his 3rd session of chemo in this series - after this they are going to do another PET scan to see if the cancer reacts to the chemo – if it’s going away. This is so scary. The worst thing is that you do not actually know if what you’re doing is the right thing. Everywhere you read about how bad it is to get chemo – how chemo causes cancer to come back stronger (like Tinus’) and that it shortens your life, instead of lengthening it.
We are trying so hard to eat right, to reduce stress, to be happy. Surprisingly hard. A while ago Tinus said to me that after this chemo he’s not going to have any more – irrespective of the outcome – and that scares me. It feels as if we will choose not to do anything, but you know what, I do think living well is a good strategy. Interesting point in case:
We’ve been focusing on the alkaline vs acid food. Tinus measures the Ph levels of his body every morning; And in spite of us (when I say us I mean me) making sure that we eat the right food some mornings his body Ph is completely acid. Which is rather demoralizing, but we carry on – fortunately its really easy – I love the pretty food we eat, lots of veggies and fruit, over here of course we can get the most interesting fruit and veggies from all over the world. I also make sure that we only eat organic, non GM food.
For the past week we were on holiday in Fujairah. Eating hotel food – and although you can choose healthy food from the buffet – some people - I don’t specifically want to mention Tinus :p – doesn’t, and when the waiter comes to take our drinks order, the same people would order Sprite or Coke. Then when we got home we had the weekend at Comic con, where the healthiest thing we could buy was beer ^^ However, this morning, when he did his Ph test it was 9!!! Completely alkaline – my opinion: De-stressing way more effective than diet in maintaining a good healthy body.
The drip here next to me has a surprisingly soothing putt putt putt sound, pumping poison into Tinus’ body. What are we doing? Is this good, is it working? Tinus said to me just now he is fine, as long as he’s not in hospital, but as soon as he gets here he gets this ”Oh fuck I’ve got cancer” feeling. This time around the nausea is less than during the previous series of chemo sessions. The chemo this time is stronger – they actually keep him overnight, and he’s got this port thingy implanted under his skin to prevent his arteries from decaying too rapidly. Scary scary scary. He gets five different anti -nausea medications, as well as an anti-nausea patch, then there are at least nine more bottles and boxes of medication. At the end of the first week after the chemo, he gets a series of subcutaneous injections to prevent his bones from deteriorating – I don’t think I actually said, but yes, the cancer has spread to his bones.
There is a part of me that wants to stay right here, in this moment in time. Here in hospital, at the beginning of spring in the desert, Tinus next to me, safely in the hospital bed, happily working on his laptop with the chemo running into his veins. Here in this moment where we are safe in the knowledge that this could work. I do not want to move to tomorrow, where Tinus will feel sick and weak, where he will suffer from fever and cold sweats alternately, where his body will hurt and rebel in agony as it try to reject the poison that we fed it. I do not want to move into that day somewhere after tomorrow’s tomorrow where we know for sure if this was worth it.
We think we know so much, but we know so little. We try to believe so hard, and we find it so hard to believe, we try to do what is right, and we do do what we think we know is wrong. It is not easy, but it rained last night and rain in the desert is always wonderful. This was doubly special, because it was possibly the last rain of winter – tomorrow will be spring. Let it be our spring of hope, after the winter of despair.