Looking back, January to May was pretty plain sailing. I was beginning to feel well in myself and while I wasn't feeling back to 'normal', life was heading in the right direction.
I was exercising quite a lot, as it helped my anxiety living with a disease I was told had a 60-70% chance of returning. Early May I noticed a pain in my lower back that I'd put down to overdoing it on the spinning bike, over the course of May to June it began to get worse, my toes were tingling and a pain was raidiating down my legs, it sounded like sciatica; but then one day crossing Whiteladies Road in Clifton my left leg gives way and a van has to brake hard to avoid hitting me. It was like my leg just wasn't in tune with the rest of my body and I was left led in the middle of the road. After being helped up I realised this was serious, something was wrong with the nerves in my lower back. I call my nurse to inform him and within 10 minutes of him speaking to my oncologist a taxi arrives to collect me to take me to emergency triage. I arrive to a room of doctors who begin neurological tests and tell me I'll be staying overnight for MRI and CT scans in light of my history with Melanoma. I was shocked and scared but relieved that I was being taken seriously, because I too had had the same worry for weeks. With that I was taken into a ward with 5 other ladies, all who were undergoing early or late stage treatment for Cancer, some older some younger, some with hair others without and I remember thinking to myself, why the hell am I back here so soon, surely it's not come back already; were the doctors right...could I really be back in the nightmare?
24 hours passed and I was given the news on the Friday evening that both my scans were all clear, except for a swelling on my spinal nerves but with no evidence of melanoma. I was relieved, drained, exstatic, exhausted, so many emotions at once. The doctors were still confused as to what had caused my fall and ordered a lumbar puncture for the following Monday to take fluid from my spine to check for traces of malignancy, but was told It should be fine. I called Mark to tell him the news, after putting the phone down I breathed a sigh or relief, shortly after a text from him followed.
"That was close Jen, I thought that was it, I thought it had come back".
I was sent home that weekend.
A week or so passed and the results came back inconclusive from my lumbar puncture, not enough fluid was taken. I'm not sure if anyone reading this has had one before, but it's basically a needle being put into your lower spine, while you lie on your side with your knees held up to your chest. It's uncomfortable but thanks to the anaesthetic it isn't supposed to hurt, my nerves were sensitive and I could have done with more of the good stuff to numb it. It did hurt.
"We're afraid we are going to have to do another lumbar puncture" says my nurse on the phone. SERIOUSLY?! And with that I'm called in the next day to repeat the process. I was tired, my body was tired, the meds I was taking made me feel sick and all I could think about was those last few months where I didn't have to deal with any of this shit. When I felt well and relatively free of the emotional drain that comes with cancer. Sure my scans were clear but they still couldn't tell me what was wrong and why I was in so much pain. People can't see pain either, which is hard because on the outside you look ok, but inside you hurt and the stress makes the pain worse.
It was now mid June where things got really real as a small lump pops up above my collar bone. It didn't hurt, wasn't red and was hard like a pea...dammit. I point this out to my oncologist during an appointment about my back pain and immediately I am scheduled for a biopsy. 5 days later I'm back in that damn reclining chair for an ultrasound as a needle takes a sample of the lump. 7-10 days and we will let you know the results, says the lady, standard procedure and the memories start to flood back from my first ever biopsy as I leave. Now to keep myself busy.
10 days pass but no results, I usually say that no news is good news, then all at once I wake up on the Monday morning in the worst pain I have ever had, liquid morphine isn't even touching my back pain and I call my nurse to tell him I can't deal with it anymore, I couldn't lie down, stand up or do anything. Enough is enough says Mark and with that I'm admitted into oncology and the missing pieces start adding up, they haven't told me my results yet, I think I know what's coming next.