Anniversary

It is to be a week of celebration.

My brother sent me a party emoji. My mum a congratulatory email. My dad sent a picture of a frog balancing on a unicycle.

One way or another, they wanted to mark what is a celebratory point in my brain tumour journey.

Firstly, it is five years since I was first diagnosed. It was on my daughters’ birthday on 15 April, five years ago, when I had such a severe seizure that I booked a doctors’ appointment. That led to the MRI test where my brain tumour was revealed.

Secondly, it’s my 40th birthday next Sunday.

Thirdly, and more importantly right now, I have begun my sixth cycle of chemotherapy. I started on Tuesday, against the odds because my bloods were still a little low. I’m now well into my 10 days of chemotherapy drugs.

Sure, there will be a lot of recovery to do. I won’t really ‘come up’ for another couple of weeks after that. But the standard treatment for my type of tumour – nearly a year of radiotherapy and chemotherapy – will be complete.

So, what news of my brain tumour?

The outlook, says my oncologist, is good. Or, in their speak, ‘it is what we would have hoped for’, which I take to mean that treatment has generally worked.

The MRI scans show no new development in tumour since my post-radiation scan in September. That September scan actually showed an ‘improvement’ – whatever that imprecise word means – on the scan previous to that: the one that led my doctors to conclude I needed to go into treatment.

All in all, good reason for that celebratory frog.

My oncologist wants to see me in a couple of months, but there is no plan to MRI my head again for six months. That’s unless something significant – seizures, nausea, my language or balance – causes concern.

I know my tumour has not gone away. But there’s every reason to believe now that it will remain dormant for a while, giving us all a break.

When I walked out of the Belfast Cancer Centre on Tuesday after intravenous chemo, I purposely didn’t look back. I don’t want to walk into that place again for very long time. It’s a nice set up they’ve got there, but for nearly 12 months it has consumed my life.

After a year in treatment, and after I’ve completed the new book I’m writing about higher grade brain tumours, I don’t want to talk about, write about, or even think about brain tumours. Hopefully my body will agree with me, and my brain will give me a nice long break.

For a few years, things went quiet on this blog. I posted perhaps five times in one year, leading to people fearing that I had died. It was the opposite. Things had settled with my condition, and there was literally nothing new to say.

I welcome a situation, hopefully very soon, when I’m able to go offline again with nothing to report. Just shutting up for a while would be a very good indication of life getting back as close to normal as it can be.

Today I feel good. The next few days I know I’ll begin to feel pretty awful. Next week will be harder still. But as I lie in bed with fatigue, or struggle with nausea or to down the third cup of warm laxative of the day, I will at least know I’ll soon be finished.

Life begins at 40, the old cards used to say. Assuming I survive until next Sunday, is it too cheesy to write that my a new phase of life might be just about to begin for me?

12 Comments

  1. Hi Gideon: Glad to hear the news. You are an inspiration.
    I have just entered the 4th year of my journey with melanoma. I’m currently receiving immunotherapy treatment as part of a 2-year clinical trial.
    I enjoyed reading your book: “This Book Won’t Cure Your Cancer”
    Take care and happy riding.
    George Todd
    Barrie, Ontario

  2. Welcome to the 5yr club. Only 20% of us diagnosed with a brain tumour live at least as long as that. Keep enjoying your family

  3. 5 year milestone for me too was Jan 17, presumed astrocytoma, right parietal lobe. Watch and wait for 5 years, looks like an awake craniotomy, radiotherapy and chemo for me later this year (still deciding and researching, not got back to my consultant with my decision yet). Wishing you lots of luck, followed your posts for a long time. You are an inspiration to us all. Best wishes to you and your family

  4. Enjoy your birthday next Sunday – keep laughing, stay positive & keep inspiring others as you do so well. xx

  5. Gideon
    Hoping you get a period off this blog in a good way too ! No news is the best news with this condition x

  6. Congratulations on all counts! Get through these next few weeks as best you can, stay strong and then get on with life, enjoying every moment of it. I hope (and I mean this in the best way of course!) to not read any new posts for a long time!

  7. Congratulations on the good news, happy birthday for next Sunday and I hope you manage suitable big 4-0 birthday celebrations once the treatment is done and your energy is back. Good luck getting the book finished swiftly so you can start your next life chapter.

    ps what’s not to love about a frog balancing on a unicycle…

  8. Gideon good to hear things are good. Celebrate away. I passed 5 years in Feb this year started chemotherapy course 3 today having already done radiotherapy pre xmas. My MRI a few weeks back identical to you stable??? No major change but no growth which is great. Go quiet my friend and go have a great life.

  9. Best wishes from Brazil, Gideon!
    2 1/2 years before a glio IV diagnosis (my beloved mom), we’re so happy now. Now I’m learning to live each day and trying to be positive with the future. Your blog helped me a lot. Thanks!
    Clarissa

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