PET results are in and show complete remission. There are no signs of the Hodge [Hodgkin lymphoma] anywhere. I’m pleased, very pleased. After hearing those words, I didn’t taken in much of what Dr C said. My brain was busy shaking maracas and dancing the conga.
A remission is a temporary end to the medical signs and symptoms of an incurable disease [such as cancer]. A disease is said to be incurable if there is always a chance of the patient relapsing, no matter how long the patient has been in remission… A complete remission is the complete disappearance of all manifestations of disease. ~Wikipedia
This is the sixth time I’ve heard the words complete remission and the second time I’ve been excited. The first was two months after my diagnosis to check that the ABVD* regime was working. It was and I jigged around my flat in jubilation. In that moment I thought the ordeal might end. After all, they said I had the good kind right? The one with a high cure rate? So I imagined a time when the Hodge would become a hazy memory, a time when I would be fixed. In those early days, I didn’t think of failure or relapse. I was naïvely optimistic.
I was more quietly pleased with the next four complete remissions. By the third PET, I’d wised-up and hoped (rather than believed) that the Hodge would take a nice long nap so I could get on with living. Obviously, that didn’t work and I’ve been on that treatment treadmill ever since.
This time, I am excited – not because it’s over, or even that I get a reprieve. The most difficult and perilous part is still to come. I’m excited because I can enjoy my two weeks annual leave. I’m delighted because it leaves options for those clever professors to discuss. And I’m pleased that I will be fitter and stronger for what comes next. I hope that gives me an edge.
The news is also bittersweet because complete remission is the beginning of the next phase. The phase where I need to dig deep and find strength and courage from that hidden place I’ve yet to discover. It’s time to again turn and confront my fear, the consequences of this horrid disease and its cruel treatments. The price for a chance of a few extra years will be high. There is no point in pretending otherwise.
But I’ll think of that in two weeks. Meanwhile, I plan to have fun. I have chores, treatment and medical appointments to squeeze in but I will do as many of my favourite things and visit as many of my favourite places as I can manage. I want to enjoy this incredible city and these next two weeks in it.
The rest will come soon enough.
*ABVD is a type of chemotherapy used to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma. If you want further information on these regimes visit The Hodge information page.