The day after my initial diagnosis I went to Hull Royal, for further scans to see where my cancer had spread to. All I knew at this point was that I had a type of bone tumour. The orthopaedic surgeon at Hull told me and my parents that my cancer had spread to my lungs. It felt like I'd been given a death sentence. My Dad passed out and my Mum burst into tears.
I'm just going to warn anyone about to read the rest of this that it's going to be pretty morbid and heavy. I'm going to write about death. There's a general consensus not to really talk about death as a cancer patient, it's a bit of an elephant in the room at times, but it's my blog and I'll talk about what I damn well please!
No one really likes talking about it (I imagine because you inevitably end up thinking about your own), yet it's one of the only true guarantees in life. Every single person alive has a certain number of days, hours, minutes and seconds left. I imagine a lot of people would act differently if they knew how much time they had left, if everyone had a little ticker over their head saying how long they had. A lot less time would be wasted on meaningless rubbish!
I probably spend more time than I should thinking about my own mortality. One of my first questions for my consultant in Leeds was what are the chances that I survive. He never gave me an answer to it, saying that it was too individual to give me a fair estimate, but I tried to find out online and all I could find was that metastatic Ewing's Sarcoma has a 10% five year survival rate. Not exactly the reassuring news I was looking for! 5% is better than nothing though! I'm nearly two years clear of treatment now, so only three more to go until I'm in the magical 10%.
Having cancer means you will inevitably meet other cancer patients and sadly some of these will die. I've met countless people along my journey but there are ten or so who I know who've passed away and are important enough to me to think about every day. It doesn't get any easier when someone dies, no matter how many times it happens. When a person is gone they leave a hole which can't be filled be anything and the saddest thing for me is that too many people wait until someone has passed away to tell them how much they meant to them. Of the friends I've lost it's only a few who I have properly had the chance to say goodbye and there are a lot of things I regret not saying when I had the chance. I'd rather tell people while I have the chance, and do things that I've wanted to do rather than wait until I get some bad scans and do it then. Death isn't something to be scared of, it's going to happen to us all eventually, just nobody knows when. Whenever I try and get travel insurance they'll ask me if I'm terminal. I say no but in all honesty I don't know. Terminal means you're going to die, and the implication is that it will happen soon, but no one can honestly know when they're going to die. It could be tomorrow or in a hundred years.
I received a letter in the post from the orthopaedic surgeon, who had told me my cancer had spread to my lungs, yesterday. She said she was glad I was in good health at the moment and that she'd heard I was going to read History at King's College London in September. I don't think she'd expected me to make it this far when she told me my cancer had spread.