Several years ago, I’d been having headaches for a couple of weeks and then one day I collapsed at work. I was rushed off for tests and they found a grade 2 oligodendroglioma.
Within a week, I was having brain surgery. I got over that operation fairly well and didn’t need any more treatment at the time.
Last year, I found out that the tumour had returned and now included a new astrocytoma strain. That was a reality check. It had been nine years since the first tumour, and I guess I’d sort of taken my health for granted.
I think I was in denial for a while and I wasn’t particularly worried about the second operation, but I got more worried as the date came closer.
I had no real problems from the surgery: it was textbook healing really, and the surgeon said they had got it all. But then he told me I’d need radiation therapy and chemotherapy, just to mop up any stray cells. That floored me – I hadn’t needed it the first time, so I thought I’d escaped it.
I had six weeks of radiation therapy, followed by six months of oral chemotherapy, and that knocked everything for six. I developed gastritis – that’s an inflamed stomach – and had to go on a very bland diet. I lost so much weight and strength, and I was very vague for a while.
Time has helped, but it has been very gradual. I started off with short walks and short bursts of activity.
I also talked it all through with my local Cancer Council – that kept me afloat. It’s been like an oasis and is still a big part of my life.
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