Saturday, February 04, 2006

This week has probably been the worst for a while, in some ways and in others the best. It started with a call to the hospital to tell them that I'm going ahead with the treatment and then a call back asking me to come in on Tuesday. It’s all happening so quickly after nothing really happening at all. A lot of tears have been shed and we’ve both been feeling drained and tired and nervous and stressed.

The meeting on Tuesday went over what I had to expect and planned my appointments - the radiation will be everyday (except weekends) from 16 February (Matt's birthday!) for 5 weeks, and the chemo will be a whole day for 4 weeks starting on 23 February.

Meeting with the Deborahs (on different days) certainly made life seem better, even though trying to find somewhere that served Elevenses, or indeed knew what it was, was almost impossible. Most disappointed by the Ritz who let us down terribly - anywhere that serves afternoon tea at 11 am and charges £38 for the privilege is taking the proverbial. What happened to crumpets? Any way we were saved by the Wolseley (again).

That place is very good - great service and food and not as expensive as one would think. Deborah T treated me to a threading experience, which is an Indian way of shaping eyebrows and in fact definitely worth a return visit. I didn’t sneeze once and have a much better shape than waxing gives! Meeting a tweeded acquaintance of hers (our man in somewhere exotic) in the lingerie shop Myla was slightly surreal - as was us giving one of the members of staff legal and financial advice! No one can accuse my friends of being boring!

I spent all day Thursday at the Marsden having various tests. It was a long and tedious day, highlighted by meeting my husband for lunch and bumping into one of the women from the Hystersisters board (who recognised me from the blog and my handbag!). Kayla is an amazingly brave woman and inspirational - she’s joined my group of “battlers”!

I woke up yesterday with a squiffy tummy and decided to have a day off. I couldn’t get warm and was happily blaming it on the central heating until I took my temperature and it was over 100°! I slept most of the day and night, so caught up on the sleepless nights that have been the norm of late. I’m not quite ready to eat normal food, but my temperature is back to normal and I’m slowly rehydrating. At least this is practice for the radiation.

I’ve changed some of the links on the side. This is because my friend Natalia is running the marathon in April so I wanted to include a link to her page.

I’m back to work (part time) next week. I’m looking forward to it mainly though there are one or two stresses that I’m NOT relishing.

Z xx

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

There comes a point in time when you have to stop chasing rainbows.

To look at Zoë now you’d never know there was anything wrong with her. In fact, there may not be anything wrong with her - at least in terms of the cancer - but how can we be sure?

Surgery has successfully removed the tumour, but at this point in time they can’t be sure they’ve eliminated all the cancer cells that may lie in the surrounding tissue. As such, in order to be as positive as we can be that the cancer won’t come back, a course of radiotherapy and chemo has been recommended - but there will be side-affects.

Of course, she doesn’t have to have the treatment… She may be OK. But the doctor’s might just as well quote Dirty Harry: “You've got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky?...... Well, do ya punk?”

(And incidentally, it’s not just a case of “let’s see how we go, we can always try the radiotherapy if it does come back”. Oh no, it’s not that simple - chances are, if it does, it will be worse.)

It doesn’t really leave us with a lot of choice. Our number one priority has been - and always will be - that Zoë gets better, and neither of us is prepared to gamble on that.

So we’re both agreed that the radiotherapy option is the safest way to go, but as you may know, the hope that we might still have our own children is something we’ve been holding out for. We realised early on that this was, at best, unlikely, but I think we both thought - hoped even - that we’d still got a chance.

There were a couple possibilities that might give us a chance in the future, but the fact that they would involve further surgery - possibly extensive - meant they were not really practical. Zoë’s only just recovered from her last operation, and more surgery is the last thing she needs before embarking on the radiotherapy - and besides neither of these options were in any way guaranteed.

Realistically then the only practical option we were look at was the prospect of surrogacy - an emotionally difficult concept to accept - never mind the logistics of actually finding a suitable surrogate and achieving a successful pregnancy.

I think before we went to the hospital last Thursday we both believed that the 'egg harvesting' required to keep this hope alive was a mere formality. Regrettably however, it is not.

In short, we’d basically be looking at only one shot at an IVF cycle (a cycle many couples will have to go through several times to achieve a pregnancy - because the success rate is so low – even without complications such as Zoë’s) so the odds are stacked against us.

Every step of the way we’ve been given hope that we might yet still have our own children. The odds have never been good, and now they’re verging on astronomical. Furthermore, we can’t afford to keep waiting - if the radiotherapy and chemo are to be effective, then we need to act soon.

It’s a tough decision, but we’re both agreed on one thing: It’s time to move on and remember our number one priority... So we’re off to the hospital tomorrow to get the radiotherapy ball rolling.