It’s the middle of May now and a few weeks since I last updated here on Happy Magazine about my own cancer treatment. Since my last post on Navigating COVID-19 during chemo, a lot has happened – thankfully all positive – including very exciting developments with the San Francisco cancer trial I mentioned. Here’s what’s been happening with me.
On 15 April I had a CT scan at my hospital to check on my cancer. I went in again the following morning to hear the results.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, I couldn’t bring my husband in with me to hear the news, so we did the next best thing – I brought him in with me via speaker on my phone.
This time, preparing for these scan results in the waiting room was a lot easier because of one thing – I promised myself that I would not stress myself out in the same way that I did on the last scan. And, I didn’t! I was very proud of myself and that alone felt like a big achievement.
My scan was “stable”
The news was good, although it took a few hours for me to see it that way. My scan showed my cancer is “stable” and pretty much exactly the same as it was at my previous scan in January.
To be totally honest, I was disappointed at first. Don’t get me wrong, I know how very lucky I am to have had this good scan. But I suppose the downside of trying to be positive all the time is that sometimes you are let down. I had been hoping for more shrinkage and when this wasn’t the news, I felt discouraged at first.
Now it had been my hope that the scan would be good enough to get a break from chemo, and it was!
My team suggested I take a three month break to let my body rest and recover after seven months of chemotherapy. And that folks, was very, very good news. Happy days – I was officially on my summer holidays!
3 positive goals
As soon as I got used to the idea that I wouldn’t be having chemo for THREE whole months, I decided to make three positive goals for the twelve weeks:
- To begin my own #100daysofwalking challenge to walk, even just a little bit, every day for the next 100 days
- To complete the Symprove 12 week probiotic programme to rebuild my gut and immune system, and
- To recharge my body with a comprehensive plan of vitamins, minerals and supplements
All of this in the hope that I would be feeling strong and ready for more chemo at the end of the three months.
The San Francisco Trial is happening!
The next big news then from the last few weeks is on the US trial which I briefly mentioned in my last update post. It looks like it’s really going to happen and that I’ll be travelling to San Francisco next month.
Edel is another patient at my hospital and we have both been following the progress of the #SaveSarahGray campaign on Facebook. Sarah Gray is another metastatic triple negative patient in the UK trying to get onto the same trial we are and her husband Adam started a campaign online to try lobby various politicians to help their cause.
Permission to travel
Like Sarah, Edel and I have also been accepted onto to the trial, but a visit to the clinic in San Francisco was essential to get started. Sarah’s campaign for permission to travel from the UK spurred us on somewhat, and we started investigating our own options here for emergency travel during COVID-19.
We got in touch with the US Embassy in Dublin and many, many emails later, we were faced with a decision – whether to book our flights or not, based on the hope that our travel would be approved on a compassionate basis by US Customs Border Patrol. The flights were close to €1,000 each and I was very nervous about losing the money one way or another. Thankfully, the pharmaceutical company running the trial then offered to cover the cost of our flights to help us try get over – very helpful indeed.
After much thought, my husband and I decided we should go ahead and book my flight.
My plan at the moment is to travel on Tuesday 16 June. I’ll be flying over, attending the appointment with the clinic on the Wednesday, and flying back the next day. I’ll only be there for two nights. As much as I would love to have my Husband with me for this trip, we don’t want to leave our son without both of us, even for two nights. So we eventually settled on me going on my own.
We’re giving myself one more month to get physically stronger and healthier before I go, and maybe things will have slightly improved with the whole COVID situation by then too. I’m nervous about the trip and also the trial, but I do think it’s a step in the right direction that’s worth trying, so I’m going for it provided I am well enough to. Roll on 16 June!
Funding my treatment
Incredibly, as mentioned my first trip to San Francisco is mostly being paid for by the pharmaceutical company, so that is very good news for our bank balance. However, they are expecting me to travel back and forth to the US over the coming months for monitoring and to collect my supply of the drug. It looks like I will be expected to travel every 8 weeks or so, unless alternate arrangements are made here between the pharmaceutical company and our hospital (something we are also working on!).
I’ve been looking at what I can do next to help fund my ongoing treatment expenses, and that leads me to my next bit of news!
A positive focus
Over the past six weeks I have spent many a happy hour working on a secret project for Happy Magazine – a PRETTY, affordable cancer journal for women facing cancer treatment. It’s been wonderful to have a positive focus during COVID-19 and also during my chemotherapy recovery. And, the journal is just about ready to reveal to you all! It will be going on “pre-sale” here on Happy Magazine soon and I do hope you might buy one if you like it. It’s a positive planner to help you thrive during cancer treatment. Here’s a little sneaky preview…
Getting strong for travel
So at the moment all my focus is on getting stronger and healthier before my trip in a few weeks. I’m eating well, getting plenty of rest, taking all my supplements (there are a lot of them!), walking and doing my probiotic programme. Generally, aside from some pain management issues, I’m doing well and regaining my energy, little by little. This weekend, my Husband is turning 40 and my little boy is turning 4 (they share a birthday) and I’m really looking forward to the celebrations. Happiness!
Please stay tuned for news of the Happy Magazine Cancer Journal, it’ll be up in a few days!
By Happy Magazine Editor, Holly Kennedy.