After the blissful month of September back out doing everything I love hiking, travelling, spending time with friends, family and loved ones plus less trips to Marsden HQ (much as I love the medical team) it was back to earth with a bump as October arrived and scans once again loomed. I could hardly believe that 3 months had passed since the last scans, how time had flown. Whilst holidaying in Corsica, for the first time in ages melanoma was out of my mind. I was feeling good, loved exploring Corsica with its jaw dropping coastal views, eating lovely food, relaxing (wearing my factor 50!) and enjoying all that it has to offer. On the current alcohol free regime there was a distinct lack of mocktails and for the first time in a while I felt tempted by a glass of rose BUT I thought of my liver and stuck to the Orezza (local sparkling water). We had a really wonderful trip and here are a few photos.
The return to Chelsea felt all too familiar and I arrived at Marsden HQ with a list of questions for my oncologist. Blood tests, scans and appointments were all booked for later in the week and I felt a wave of back to cancer patient reality hit me. The Ivy Café Chelsea normally my oasis of calm, great people watching and yummy avocado and eggs wasn’t feeling so good that Monday morning as I was feeling anxious.
Scan day arrived and I returned to the hospital for a brain (MRI) scan and a CT scan of my body. The CT scan was over quickly but the brain scan takes longer and involves having a mask placed over your face then going into the donut shaped machine. It’s very noisy (like roadwork’s on the motorway) and makes you feel claustrophobic. I keep myself calm closing my eyes, thinking of some far away beautiful place (or hunky guy!) listen to some good music and breath deeply (the yoga breathing comes in very useful). I then had a weekend of waiting for the results when scanxiety really kicked in. As I have written previously, I usually have a gut feeling about the outcome of scan results. I have been feeling really good BUT there is always that doubt that nags in your mind that something may be wrong. It’s best to try not to torture yourself, keep busy and put it to the back of your mind. I also don’t tell anyone about the exact dates of scans. I have become a bit superstitious about this after my last good scan results and plan to continue following that regime.
The weekend passed quickly with a lovely lunch and catch up with my sister-in-law Katy and a full day of supporting the fantastic shomelanoma team (Dave, Fraser, Fiona and Chris) running the Royal Parks half marathon for the melanoma team at the Marsden, more of that to follow in the upcoming fundraising blog.
By Monday morning I was feeling anxious although not as sick as I did for the results of the last scans. When arriving at Dr Larkin’s consulting room the door opened and all I saw was a lot of unfamiliar faces. The first thing that entered my head was “Oh god all these other experts are here due to my scan results” I felt more fearful but as soon as I sat down I was told that my scans were good.
I felt a massive sense of relief. The new faces in the room were doctors visiting from Holland and Spain. It’s hard to describe what’s going through your head in these meetings, I often don’t take everything in hence why it’s so good that my rock of a husband David is always there with me to absorb what I am not digesting. Moving forward the current plan is my scans will be every 3 months and I wont be having any more immunotherapy treatment for now. I am now on 5mg of steroids per day from 250mg in June and will come off the steroids completely as soon as my body starts producing its own natural steroids. My blood tests will now move to every 2 weeks. It is early days for me and 6 months on from my stage 4 melanoma diagnosis I know that I am lucky to have responded to the immunotherapy treatment and be currently feeling so well. However, I know things can change very quickly and melanoma is a very unpredictable disease so I am getting on with living life for now and enjoying every day.
I left the Mardsen with my smile back and this week’s trip to the Ivy Café felt much happier than the week before, it was time for a celebratory lunch and a new pair of boots. The Marsden being so close to the Kings Road is not good for the wallet especially with my love of fashion.
The last week has been jam-packed with family staying with us, attending the fabulous and glamorous WellChild Awards at the Royal Lancaster Hotel which was a humbling, inspirational evening recognising brave children and their families living with severely debilitating health conditions. We also had the amazing Jonny Awsum hosting the comedy fundraiser in aid of the Royal Marsden and a full report is coming up in the fundraising blog.
I truly appreciate the amazing care and treatment I am having from Dr Larkin and his team at the wonderful Royal Marsden hospital. You can learn more about the immunotherapy treatment I have received here
Thank you again for all your messages of support, they all keep me smiling. Stay tuned for a full update coming on the shomelanoma team fundraising activities.