Neddy in No Man’s Land
“Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place” (Susan Sontag, Illness as a Metaphor)
As quickly as it all began my cancer treatment is, for the moment, over. 11 months, 2 operations and 12 cycles of cytotoxins, countless blood tests, 42 mornings injecting myself to boost my white blood counts, more than a month in hospital, all book-ended last week with a scan showing no sign of the Nuisance. So I move into a new category, from metastatic cancer patient to a NED: no evidence of disease.
When I was diagnosed last October, a (foolish) google search showed I had an 8% chance of surviving for 5 years. Now, I have a 50% chance of not just surviving till my kids are 9, but surviving without cancer. Well. Not in as the kingdom of the sick.
Writing these words feels amazing. I’ve woken up for the past few mornings with a smile, a warm glow as I feel my body gain strength as the toxins disappear. I even had some booze at the weekend, a sure sign I’m on the up.
Writing these words also feels like tempting fate. I’m being scanned every 3 months for the next few years, and the coin toss could come down against me at any time. The Nuisance could still be lurking inside, waiting to regroup, to adapt its tactics to confound the foxes. It’s a clever old bugger (so clever and old it even has a biography now – which, incidentally, is an incredible book). And as I presaged in my last post, living in this no man’s land is my new normal, and it’s going to take some getting used to. But damn, it feels good to have 3 whole months ahead of me using my good passport.
I’ve got a lot more to say, and a lot, lot more to write. So expect to hear from me. Other than that, I will be picking the boys up from their new school. I will be buying directional, autumnal clothes and wearing high heels. There will be dieting, and also fine dining. I shall do some work for AGI. Billy will mostly be eating my cooking, taking me to the cinema, and working very hard so we can afford lots of mini-breaks (he will also be running – you can sponsor him here for the Great Eastern Run in a few weeks time).
For once, I don’t mind autumn coming. We’ve got a lot of fun to have.