She didn’t have the pink shoes when she arrived after six weeks in Europe and Canada with friends and other family, they were purchased on a shopping trip we did to buy new training shoes for me. They were put to use pretty much straight away, gentle circuits of the neighbourhood and its surrounds, greeting the locals, introducing herself and bringing home bits of chit chat from around the place.
Then the pain got worse and the shoes came off for a while, the daily walks being replaced by mornings by the community pool – and laps and laps of walking through the water to keep up the exercise part of her health management regime.
Next there was a hospital visit – the scans showing the American doctors what the Australian doctors already know, there are tumors growing in and around the body and they are causing problems, nasty problems. The one in her muscle that gives the constant leg pain and the others that cause the bloating and ongoing discomfort, pain and worry about what’s going to happen next since the radiation is over and the chemo was stopped due to it doing basically sweet FA*.
Now in a way we know, four weeks after the first hospital visit there was a second one and there were more scans, tubes in noses and a terrible three day hospital stay which at one stage took us all to the darkest places you can go. There were surgeons ruling out surgery, any travel home and Palliative care nurses talking home hospice care set up.
It’s been quite a time at our house recently.
Six and a half years after the diagnosis of Bowel Cancer Stage IV and a week after her release from the second hospital visit on a fluid only diet, lest we wake the beast that is the bowel obstruction, the roller coaster ride continues.
UPS today delivered the scans done in Atlanta, Georgia to her Oncologist in Wollongong, New South Wales and he has called with a plan. The plan involves flying back to Australia in two stages, Atlanta to San Francisco and San Francisco to Sydney, then tests to locate exactly the position of the blockage in the bowel and most likely surgery to bypass. That was one option, the other option was to stay here, do nothing and to use the words of the Oncologist ‘you’ll be dead in six or seven weeks’. Nothing confrontational about that phrasing.
So after that conversation with the oncologist, one with my husband and I followed by a Skype call with my brother, the lady donned her hot pink shoes and took a stroll around the ‘hood. As you do. Keep on, keeping on.
Next Monday I will fly with my Mum to San Francisco, where we will stay overnight, my Aunt will fly from Calgary to meet us and she will take Mum the San Francisco to Sydney leg home. Back to the doctors and medical team that have taken care of her for the last six plus years, to the place we all have to believe is best for her to be.
Then I will board a flight back to Atlanta and wait for news about what comes next. I will keep training for the NYC Marathon in just over five weeks time knowing at least it will fill my days and make me physically tired so I will be able to sleep at night. That’s my plan.
And I will keep telling everyone I know to tell everyone they know to GET TESTED for bowel cancer.
* sweet Fuck All being an entirely appropriate medical term