At the time of her diagnosis, I definitely couldn’t see this point. And I certainly couldn’t believe that our everyday life would continue – albeit on a rather different scale. But to use a cliché, life does go on. There are still bills to pay, things to do, and not to mention a teething baby to look after…
Life has now reached a new pace, where Poppy’s treatment, hospitals and doctors, are all part of our new regime. Our daily routine goes on and cancer is now a part of it. I used to be scared of that word, but now I hear myself saying it often. I still hate it though.
Subtle changes are taking place. I have a designated cupboard in the kitchen full of various medicines for Poppy and have become the pharmacist of the house. We’re still taking temperatures religiously, but now every few hours rather than every few minutes. I’m almost used to the sympathetic stares from people when we’re out and poppy hasn’t got a hat on.
Trips to theatre have become standard and I’ve managed to stop crying when it’s my turn to take her in to have the aesthetic. The medical terminology and abbreviations which once baffled and confused have become part of my vocabulary. Visits to Daycare for chemotherapy are in Poppy’s eyes, a chance to play with the toys there. The list goes on.
People have often said to us that they’re impressed by how we’re coping. Which although meant well bugs me slightly. We don’t have a choice but to cope. If I sat and thought about the enormity of what is happening and what may possibly happen in the future, then I’d never get out of bed and be no use to anyone. Least of all Poppy.
After the first stage of Poppy’s treatment, Induction, she had an MRD test. This stands for Minimal Residual Disease and is an in depth analysis to determine how many leukemic cells remain in her body. The results came through and the news was good. She’s now in the ‘low risk’ group. Obviously this was the best news we could expect at this stage and the doctors were pleased as it means she’s responded well to her treatment thus far.
I questioned how many cancerous cells were left in her body now, but the consultants preferred to talk in terms of cure rates as the number was so small. We’re now looking at a 98% chance of cure, needless to say is encouraging – although I won’t be entirely happy till it’s one hundred. But none the less, this was happy news and all signs at this point are positive.
We then moved onto three weeks called Consolidation which only meant two hospital visits a week. And now we’re on the phase named Interim Maintenance, which lasts for nine weeks. Happily this is a more gentle stage of treatment, with considerably less theatre visits and incredibly weeks whereby we don’t even need to go into hospital.
I’m not wishing to downplay this time. The risk of infections still looms large and the medicine cupboard at home is still full. But this time feels manageable. We’re aware that the next phase of treatment is going to be more of a challenge. But rather than worry about that, in a more Zen- like state, we’re trying to appreciate the here and now.
And what we have now is good. Poppy is responding well and we’re seeing our little girl slowly coming back to us as the nurses predicted she would. As I type this she’s running around the house laughing and demanding pancakes. And I’m certainly not going to let cancer ruin these moments for us. I’m not naive to think treatment will always be like this, but where we’re at now I’m amazed at how far we’ve come.