That’s four years since my treatment ended. Four years since the last dose of radiotherapy. If I was an alcoholic and not had a drink for that long I would be on my way to having a boxful of medals by now. But no medals for cancer survival. Survival is its own reward.
In Clinic E though they have promised if I get to five years there will at least be a virtual shower of anniversary ticker tape and a blast from the confetti cannon on the glorious day. To be honest it was a half-hearted kind of a promise, and undoubtedly one that had been made by them a few hundred times before. But nevertheless.
It does seem it’s really no big deal, that jump from four years to five. In fact, once you get to even three years without a recurrence with my brand of cancer, your survival is pretty much guaranteed. It’s all about where you fit on a probability curve apparently.
The probability curve for tonsil cancer is fairly forgiving, at least once you’ve got through the early months and years. I could have had it worse.
I’m told I’ve been far from alone in having the odd niggle along the way. I haven’t been the only one with swallowing problems or food sensitivities or even a swollen epiglottis. Even the strange case of my missing uvula has a precedent. Don’t doctors always say there is nothing they haven’t seen?
So it was all quite jolly in the clinic . A bit of reminiscing over how the chemo and the radiotherapy had been, a bit of a trip down memory lane as Mr A took us through a potted history of my throat’s imagery, then the announcement that he wouldn’t want to see me for six months.
Which means that, all going well, I’ll only have two more visits. I was already feeling nostalgic.
And then. Afterwards. You know how sometimes, even though you have heard something, and you know exactly what was said, you ignore it? You put it to the back of your mind?
There was something that niggled at me after I left. Mr A had said, kind of off-handedly, in an ‘it’ll probably never happen’ sort of way, that there was a teeny tiny chance in twenty or so years time the cancer might, just might, flare up again.
Because of the radiotherapy. Apparently the very thing that kills your cancer can bring it back. Radiotherapy. Radiation. The same that did for all those folk in Hiroshima. It’s powerful stuff. I’ve got something to think about for the next couple of decades (assuming, etc). A reason to keep looking for lumps and swellings.
But no, hang on a minute I thought. Let’s not think of tomorrow lest we disappoint today. This is no time for worry and misery. I made a decision. I’m not one for worrying (well not much). I’m four years clear. Today I’m a glass half-full kind of guy.
I’m looking forward to the ticker tape. And the confetti cannon.