I’ve been thinking about my grandparents and their house on Lake Street. Fuzzy 40-year-old memories of a long walk from the street to the front door – or so it seemed to short legs – a big pecan tree in front and grass that was never green but a patchwork of yellow and brown. I recall a breeze cooling my skin as it passed through the screened back porch where we slept on hot nights.
Snippets of memory – playing in the backyard, getting stung by fire ants, building a secret clubhouse with one cousin to hide from the other, running from snakes, sneaking off to Aunt Jackie’s for cake. Memories of grandpa spinning me in circles until I got dizzy and tumbled to the ground. I remember Granny Merry washing my mouth out with soap because I said a dirty word – twice! I don’t use such words now.
My sister and I stayed at Lake Street whenever Mom wanted to have what she called grown-up fun. The strongest memories are of sitting in front of the television on a Saturday night eating homemade cookies. There were two shows my grandparents never missed. Grandma preferred The Laurence Welk Show with its bubbles, orchestra music and floaty dresses trimmed with feathers. I wasn’t impressed.
Grandpa and I liked Hee Haw with its pickin’ and a grinnin’ tunes, costumes and silly jokes. I remember two songs in particular. Where oh where are you tonight? was the song that appealed to six-year-old me. I drove my mother crazy with my frequent renditions.
The other song popped into my head last week. I had just finished an outpatient’s appointment – part of the latest leg of my NHS tour. Hurry and wait seemed to be the motto and an ‘urgent’ referral took several weeks. Then more delays before surgery followed by the torturous three-week wait for results. The news was no surprise – confirmed relapse of Hodgkin lymphoma.
Dr C rang later in the day to let me know that Brentuximab* would start immediately. These are NHS timescales and I do hope that means soon. Hospitalisation for the first cycle and a 60-minute infusion every three weeks until July. Then see if it’s worked and maybe a couple of more cycles as a bridge. In the meantime arrangements for an allogeneic transplant* will start. At least that’s the plan.
Despite being prepared, that final minuscule grain of hope was painful to lose. I sat on the Tube, tearful, when the tune popped into my head. It has plagued me ever since.
Cancer came back just when life looked interesting again. I feel recovered and have a new programme to set up at work. It’s sad to know that I won’t be able to see it through, although I hope to have a few brentuximab-fuelled months to get it started. My employers won’t be told for a while – at least not until the transplant timescale is clear. It’s difficult to pretend that all is well and the long bank holiday weekend was a welcome reprieve. It allowed space to breathe and think and remember the safety and simplicity of Lake Street.
*For more info about Brentuximab and allogeneic stem cell transplants please visit The Hodge information page.