Two years after my cancer spread, I'm still living large. Thank you mighty NHS - Susan Morrison
Exactly two years ago I was told that my cancer had spread and was burrowing into my liver and my lung.
Like an idiot, I consulted Dr Google. Word of advice. Don’t. Dr Google is very much like McCoy of the USS Enterprise, only there to give out bad news. No idea what Bones does on that Starship since every patient he touches is dead, Jim.
Wild flailing about on the internet reveals a grim survival stat of about 24 months. What the internet doesn’t tell you is that everyone is different. Cancer truly is a bespoke disease. It's one reason why there’s no absolute cure for cancer, since this sneaky devil can pop up and wreak havoc in a dozen different ways. Each patient is a new battlefield.
People will immediately reassure you that there are new discoveries all the time. Heck, I’ve done it myself.
Make no mistake, legions of white coated researchers really are toiling away in laboratories and yes, they really are making breakthroughs. A big chunk of their funding comes from charity shops, so next time you’re in the Cancer Research UK shop, go nuts. Buy two cardigans. Feel the smugness.
But when the rug gets pulled out from under your life, the real allies by your side are the incredible people who work in the mighty, embattled, beleaguered NHS.
Those nurses, endlessly patient, kind and helpful. My relentlessly cheery oncologist, a woman who redefines optimism. The battalion of surgeons who came to my aid with breezy talk of ‘just whipping this out’, ‘rummage around here’ and ‘rootling about there’.
Yes, they also spoke of things like an apicoposterior segmentectomy, but my first thought when I heard that was, wow, that’s a winning hand at Scrabble, mate.
When cancer spreads it's like the head of a dandelion blown by a breeze. Those nasty little seeds can go anywhere. It's like being a human Whack-a-Mole game.
So, we scan and we watch, but here I am, those two years later. I’m still having fun, living it large and swillin’ gin (sorry, liver team) and it's all down to them.