Week 33: 6-months since treatment ended
As one gets *cough* older, anniversaries become more mute. Or maybe that’s just me. I genuinely forget, every year, how long David and I have been going out for. Or how long I’ve been working at UCL. But with that comes the realisation that I’m lucky to be in the position that I can forget how long I have been with someone who loves me so much, or to have a job that provides constant security and welcome challenges.
And so I feel with this weekend’s milestone – it’s been 6 months to the day since I stopped radiation treatment for oropharyngeal cancer. I’ve opted for this date rather than the “all clear” diagnosis, as the latter I’ll *never* remember the date of, and the former marks the end of a unique period of daily travel into 28-Days London during Covid-19 Lockdown.
In this time, I’ve had a MRI scan which confirmed I’m in “complete remission” with no trace of cancer cells, with a follow-up face-to-face check up with an ENT consultant, who examined by throat and tonsils through a nasoendoscopy, which also showed everything was good J.
I’ve also completed the Virtual London Marathon. I knew that this would be a challenging ‘race’, even though you could do it wherever you liked. I decided to keep on my home turf of Epping Forest and Wanstead Park, and I was incredibly luckily to have my friend Michael Saunders come along despite Storm Alex making the day before the race the wettest in the UK since records began 120 years ago, and race day one of the muddiest!!
I had three goals:
Finish the course; even if I had to crawl over the 26.2 mile line ✅
Run the course in under 5h. This necessitated me keeping at an average pace of 7mins/km or so, and was a goal I kept to myself, apart from telling Michael a week before ✅ (my official time was 4h 54mins)
Run the course, and then try and run an extra 10km to bring me up to an ultramarathon distance. This goal I told no-one, as it was surely barmy; I’d never managed to run that distance even during peak fitness ✅
Amazingly I managed to run over 52km, meaning I’ve now run my first ever ultramarathon distance. And I'm hoping to do my first official ultramarathon next weekend on the Dorset coast (although with new impending lockdown, participation is looking more moot).
I actually only seem to have one longer-lasting side-effect and that’s still the xerostomia, or dry mouth. It’s really hard to know if it's getting better. Maybe yes. Maybe no; I might just have adapted completely to the inconvenience.
But increasingly as I meet new people on social media who have read this blog, again, I’m lucky to be in the privileged position of being able to forget the first date of my all-clear diagnosis.