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 seven-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 pre-surgery delays 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 while they search for a donor. 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.