Monday, 5 March 2012

Stats about life and death

5/3/ 12
Had to go to the hospital for my 3 monthly results this morning. It's like facing the death sentence every few weeks, not nice at all. For a few days before I go I feel shredded, knowing that on a certain date my life could easily stop. There is also the thought that, if it's OK this time what will happen when one day it isn't OK, how will I cope with getting that news?
My CA125 which is a cancer marker in the blood was low as usual. "Your tumour doesn't show any signs with this test," said the doctor.
What was she on about - "my" tumour?? I thought I had given it away in May 2010. And if it doesn't show up in the test, may be it isn't there? Doctors seem to think that an ovarian tumour is a permanent guest which never goes away entirely. That is their view, I think mine has gone!
An examination showed that everything is still OK. The doctor said that 70 % of people have a recurrence within two years, but my two years is up in May, and if I get there, I can "relax a little."
"Perfect," she said, optimism again like the last time. I floated out of her surgery out of the clinic and across the road to the bus stop.
You always hear different things though. I remember Proff Gabra, head of the department, saying that I could start to relax in 2014.I wrote it in my diary.
They used to say that 37% of ovarian cancer sufferers survived after seven years, but that recently went up to 40%. But this doctor seemed to be working on a 30% figure. Or maybe the survival rate after seven years is an entirely other set of stats.

As soon as I got home I went out again for a swim. It feels almost prayerful to me, this pushing water, rhythm building, the feeling of being transported into another element, sunlight shining through the windows onto the blue and yellow tiles on the bottom of the pool, it's almost like being in church.


So it's three months until I reach a marker, where I might be able to say that statistics are now more on my side - just over eight weeks away. But does it count as the beginning, middle or end of May? In which part of the month will I be more safe than I am now? And after that - no, I cannot allow myself to relax, not for may be seven years. Suddenly this has become rather tough, a three month wait in hope, a sprint to the end, or just a long excruciating holding of breath.
The doctor was trying to be helpful, being so positive, "perfect," she said smiling as I was going out the door, but now my mind has gone into knots.
Swimming today I had gone into something like a calm trance, but able to think clearly. Not far from the end of the lane I was enjoying the lights you can see underwater when a begoogled, fat arsed woman swimmer, wet and round as an orca, swam straight into me, smash, then plunged away. I had committed the cardinal sin of going too slowly in the fast lane. Perhaps they should put a notice up on the wall, along with the "No diving," could be "No praying."

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