Monday, 16 August 2010

The 14 month review

It's 14 months to the day since Steve was diagnosed with mesothelioma and, as he gently reminds me when I get a bit wobbly, he's still here!  Not only is he still here, he is doing well and making the most of life, as you will know if you have read recent blogs!

However, it's been a bit of a roller coaster ride since diagnosis, as any meso warrior and their families will tell you. On the downside, there is
  • the shattering of dreams, the fear and the numbness on initial diagnosis
  • the heart breaking experience of telling family and friends
  • dealing with a myriad of paperwork whilst still in shock, trying hard to remember all Steve's employment since leaving school and possible sources of exposure to asbestos over the last 45 years or so
  • the risk, pain and discomfort of undergoing the chest drain and pleurodesis operation
  • the disruptive effect of frequent hospital visits for radiotherapy, chemotherapy and scans/X-rays on our daily lives over a period of six months 
  • the side effects of chemo including fatigue, nausea, vomiting and peripheral neuropathy (numbness in fingers and toes)
  • increasing levels of stress and anxiety as each assessment approaches, wondering what the results of the X-ray/scan will show this time
  • living with the constant fear that every cough, chest twinge, loss of appetite or feeling below par might signal the growth of the tumour or its spread to other parts of the body
However, there have been the upsides too
  • we have been overwhelmed and touched by the love, good wishes, support and practical help offered and provided by family, friends and work colleagues
  • we have a better appreciation of the small things that make life enjoyable, be it a sunny day, a delicious cake, a beautiful flower, an inspiring view, a good bottle of wine, and delightful company amongst other things...
  • after years of saying we must be more sociable, we have at last got off our butts and done it
  • we have visited places and experienced things for the first time
  • we have benefitted from the experiences shared and support offered by our new friends in various online "meso" communities, and been inspired by their fighting spirit and positive approach to life
  • our life-work balance has changed and we really are making the most of this time together, while Steve is able to enjoy himself
  • we are encouraged by the broad range of research currently being undertaken to improve outcomes for those with mesothelioma and search for a cure
  • we take comfort from the fact that Steve still has treatment options, as and when they prove to be necessary
Life goes on and Steve is still here, extending the right hand "tail" of those with mesothelioma who live beyond the median survival rate (7-10 months) and firmly in the 40% alive a year or more post-diagnosis.  Long may he continue to extend the right hand side of the statistical curve towards the 1 in 10 who survive at least 5 years!

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