Jon's blog: 3 Months On
In my last blog I shared about my recent and unexpected diagnosis of stage 4 bowel cancer, which was treatable but not medically curable. I’d been on gruelling chemotherapy for around three months at that point, and have carried on with it pretty much non-stop since then – it’s hard to believe it’s been almost six months on this treadmill.
In the meantime I had my first scan since the cancer diagnosis, to see how the chemotherapy was going. Happily, the scan showed that the cancer had shrunk by 40-50%, which our oncologist felt was “excellent”. And that led on to the current round of chemo, as the first set of treatments went so well. I thought I might get some time off for good behaviour after the first round of chemo, but our oncologist was keen to capitalise on its effectiveness and I was keen to do everything I could to push the cancer back and buy some more time.
Happily, this round of chemo treatments has gone smoothly and I’ve just had the final one (for now), which will be followed by another scan. After that, I’ll hopefully get a break from treatment, at least until the cancer grows back enough to need more.
I feel a bit funny about all of this. With the chemo results, I was pleased that our oncologist felt that the results were so good, but a bit disappointed that the cancer hadn’t shrunk further (or gone). I appreciate that was never medically realistic, but I guess feelings aren’t always (or ever) that rational. With the treatment break, I’m obviously keen to step off the chemo treadmill and live life a bit more “normally” for a while. But I also feel a bit intimidated by any return (however partial and temporary) to how life was before cancer and chemo, as it’s been a while and it all feels a bit more uncertain than the current regular chemo cycle.
Going for another scan soon makes me feel nervous too – “scanxiety”. I know it’s better to be aware of what’s going on, but I can’t help feeling apprehensive about whether this lot of chemo has been as successful as the last one, or whether it’s worked at all. There’s every reason to feel hopeful after last time, but hope’s fragile and the nerves are still there.
In the meantime, I was saddened to hear of Deborah James’ death. Although we’ve been on this cancer journey for a far shorter time, her example of hope and resilience has been truly inspirational for us, and I am so grateful for all that she has done to raise awareness around bowel cancer and to promote treatment for it. She truly embodied “rebellious hope”.
In the midst of all of this I’m also so grateful for the incredible and ongoing support around me, especially as the situation drags on; I’ve had enough and would totally understand if other people had too. I couldn’t do this without my amazing wife, and we are so blessed by our family and friends, our church and our boys’ school. I had the chance to speak about my experiences at church recently and it felt good to bring something constructive out of all of this, which people said they appreciated. As the road ahead remains difficult and uncertain, I find it helpful to reflect on the good that we can nevertheless see.
Jon is the father of two energetic boys, and he and his amazing wife work four days a week. They are both lawyers, and Jon has worked in the City for around 18 years as a solicitor in the insurance industry. He is now becoming an expert in Nerf guns and Fortnite.