Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Five years!

Where did the time go?

Nestled in the depths of my wallet, with a loyalty cards from the local curry house and the local airport is my NHS Prescription Charge Exemption Card. In the UK anyone who has treatment for cancer, or for the effects of cancer, can apply for one of these cards and once you have one all of your prescriptions are free, no matter what the prescription is for.

It took me a while to find this out, no one in the NHS told me, and it was on the Macmillan website that I found the magic form number (FP92A) that I had to ask for. I received my card in the post the same week I started my chemotherapy and was daunted by the expiry date of 2nd January 2015.

Back then, very ill and very scared the year 2015 seemed impossibly far away. A time that I daren't contemplate actually reaching. Outliving my Prescription card was one of the targets I set myself whilst bored out of my mind in the isolation room that became my home for much of the following months.

Immediately after my treatment, along with my Irradiated Blood transfusion Card, my Free Prescription Card, took pride of place in my wallet. Used to score the mountain of antibiotics I took for six months and then hay-fever medication through the summer because once my leukaemia had gone my hay-fever came back.

Much like the discomfort, thoughts and worries of that time, slowly and almost unnoticed these cards have drifted into the background as the years have passed. Replaced by work ID cards, credit cards, and a photo or two of Emma as a toddler the corners of which are now getting dogeared and worn.

She's a proper person now with thoughts and opinions and endless, endless chatter. Her birthday this week is a reminder of exactly how long I've been out of hospital. The day she was born, three days after I got out, looking forward to now seemed like an impossible eternity; now looking back to then seems like only a moment has passed.

In those five years I've walked 27 miles through London at night to raise money for Cancer Research; I've spoken at Macmillan events of how they helped me through diagnosis and treatment; I've met the amazing founders of Shine Cancer Support who are working to make the lives of us 'younger' cancer sufferers and survivors at least a little better; and I've been in a room with more than a 100 other Hairy Cell survivors one of whom was a spritely 73 years old. 

I now know of two septuagenarians, still living, who were diagnosed with HCL in their 30's. Surviving from a time when today's treatments were to them probably also a distant and seemingly impossible.
Its hard now to pick the next landmark to aim for: The Next Check-Up seems a little short term; Giving Emma Away a little far out. Right now I can't think of specific targets to hit, I have no bucket list. For now then I look forward to experiencing more of the impossible and also more of the ordinary: Sunsets, rain, wine, friends and more of that endless, endless chatter.