Remission and Guilt



A remission is a temporary end to the medical signs and symptoms of an incurable disease. 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.


So the latest CT scan went well….very well in fact because the Doctor officially granted me REMISSION status! Yes…. Remission. As in, he doesn’t think that I have anything to worry about, that I will continue with my five year check-up routine but he isn’t expecting anything bad to come back. He put my chances at around 10% of reoccurrence. He told me to go celebrate life and not worry so much. I’m feeling so excited that I slept an extra three hours this morning to celebrate. I don’t know why (duh!) I get so stressed around check-up time that I don’t sleep and then after the appointment it’s like my body wants to catch up on all the sleep it missed in the stress up to the appointment. The fact I was feeling some strong pains in the last few months had me pretty convinced that the cancer had come back so to get the news that I’m clear has thrown me for a happy loop. So when do I catch up with the happy?

Because here’s the weird part. I’m thrilled to be sure. I mean, seriously, remission is the word most cancer patients want to hear about themselves and I’ve heard it. But I feel a little guilty, like, why me? Why do I get to be in remission and other people that I know are battling for their lives and don’t get the same news? I felt guilty putting the status up on Facebook. In fact, I knew I was in remission for several hours before I put it up on Facebook even though there were people waiting for the news. Because I feel guilty. I get to face a normal life now, pretty free from the fear of a reoccurrence and other people are being told that their cancer has gone to stage four and its terminal.

I’m not complaining. I don’t want the doctor to call me back and tell me he was messing with my mind, my cancer has actually grown to the next stage now. But it’s hard to deal with such good news and not feel bad for the friends and acquaintances that don’t get such words from their doctors. I know I should be breaking open the non-alcoholic fizzy wine that’s sitting in my fridge and drinking it straight from the bottle, but I really don’t want to. I’m sitting here in quietness of my family room, aware of how blessed I am. I don’t know how to celebrate life when I’m so guilty that for other people  it’s a daily struggle just to survive.

I know… I suck. My attitude sucks. My lack of celebration sucks. I’m so grateful that I get to face being a mother to Bronwen for a lot longer than the statistics had me believing. I get to do things with my life that I’ve always wanted to. I get to pretend I’m a writer for a lot longer! I wish I could just expel the other people from my mind and celebrate without thinking about them. I know that they wouldn’t begrudge me the news that I’m in remission. I’m sure they would celebrate my good news with open hearts. But I also know there would be a little part of them that would question, why not me? And why not them? Why do they face terminal and I get off ‘scott free.’ I think I had built myself up for a reoccurrence and it hasn’t happened and my head and heart are still catching up with the news.

Remission. It’s a strange beast.


Gastrografin – One of Life’s Experiences

gastrografin misery

Gastrografin (Diatrizoate Meglumine and Diatrizoate Sodium Solution) is a palatable lemon-flavored water-soluble iodinated radiopaque contrast medium for oral or rectal administration only.

Oh Lord, Gastrografin is evil stuff to drink down and I had to drink two large cups of the stuff for my CT scan yesterday. And I wasn’t allowed to glug it down (if that were even possible) as I had to drink it slowly over a period of one and a half hours – it was a very long appointment.

Even just thinking about it now has me remembering the taste but I lack the skills to narrow down what exactly made it so bad. It didn’t taste like anything I know (palatable lemon my arse!), it wasn’t sour or bitter but with every mouthful of the drink  I was gagging and at one point I did throw it up. Truly it was foul. A technician suggested that it tasted like bad country town water…. I’ve never tasted water like that in any town I’ve ever been to, so I pity the town that has water like that.

It was so bad that I went hunting through my backpack and found a very old packet (like years old!) of chewing gum (I hate chewing gum) and actually stuffed two pieces in my mouth to try and get rid of the taste. My friend Charmayne calls it the lemonade from hell… and I have to agree.

Then to add serious insult to injury, I had to have an IV put in as well…. it was really most unfair. The dye they put in via the IV makes you feel like you’ve wet your pants which is a delightful experience at any time, but the technician assured me that they never had anyone wet themselves for real before. Can I just say I prayed I wasn’t their first!

But the scan was over very quickly (ten minutes and done) and now begins the wait for the results which will come through in a couple of weeks. I’m expecting everything to be fine. My CA-125 was stable in the last test so I’m not going to allow myself to get into a tizzy over it again. I’m more worried about the blood test I had to check on my kidney function than worrying that the scan will show any more growths.

And may I suggest that if you ever have to drink Gastrografin you don’t have butter chicken for dinner the same day as you will be burping up Gastrografin and butter chicken all evening?

Yeah, chalk that up to one of life’s experiences.

Maybe I Will Write Again….


I had the tiny, infinitesimal idea for a story to write.

I’m almost too scared to even write that in case I scare it away like a frightened white rabbit before it becomes a fully fleshed out idea. But a story idea is kind of gurgling around in my mind… and I’m so happy about that it’s worth the risk to tell you and share my happiness.

I can’t wait to get back to a place where I am able to concentrate and write and read again. Claire, my Human Rights lawyer friend gave me a book called “The Goldfinch” a couple of weeks ago and until now I really didn’t think I could even open the cover. But today I feel like, if I try really hard, I might be able to make a start on it.

She says that reading it made her want to write a book and she isn’t a writer at all. That she saw the world through muddy glass and now she sees things through the eyes of the book and what a masterpiece it is. Now Claire is not the sort of person to enthuse about anything easily, she is a very stable, measure kind of woman, so for her to positively gush over the book, it must be good.

Maybe reading a great piece of literature will set my mind a-whirling and I can start writing again.

And maybe if I start the book this week it will give me something to do as I wait for the dyes to work into my system during my CT scan this week. I’m going into this scan with positive thoughts; and a notepad and pen so if the idea fleshes out a little more I will have something to write it down. Oh I can see the operator being thrilled with that kind of movement in the scanner.

I haven’t had a scan in such a long time, but the appointment is going to be two hours long. That’s plenty of time to allow the idea to come closer to me and reveal more of itself don’t you think?

Maybe I should take a carrot with me?