Yes well blow me down – it’s blustering windy out, full moons, equinoxes and the remnant of the hurricane that visited USA last week and undoubtedly is whistling through the Caribbean. Never a dull moment – like on Saturday on impulse taking the boat out to the Bass Rock with Fran, after yet another delicious lunch at the North Berwick Lobster Shack, and the sea swell was so huge i was quite scared for some reason and really wondering if i would be able to swim to land or the rock itself if we turned over. Yet there was not the least likelihood of it happening but i felt very tense i must say – i kept whooping to hide it! – still it was good to find fear in something natural…
Same rolling fortune with cancer treatment: 7 weeks ago i was faced with the news of ‘possible new growths’ rather than shrinkage, with my oncologist Lesley Dawson confessing there was no absolute BC before and AC after chemo measure as there had been no scan just before chemotherapy started. So when i went for scan last week i was sure the result would be ‘more of the same’. Infact there has been what is called officially an ‘interval reponse’ – gosh i lOVE the language – i.e. in the ‘interval’ (anyone for icecream or pop corn? – no not that kind of interval silly) – the growths have shrunk, so that there are only a few 5mm ones on the peritoneum and the official radiologist verdict is ‘almost no visible disease remains’.
Of course this is good news! However, I must confess that as i was not expecting it, i was kind of full of disbelief and unimpressed, thinking of people who get the same news and then 6 months later are very ill and die (like Talitha’s husband the photographer Ian Mackenzie). Also as Dr Dawson said, the cells are still there dividing and multiplying. This is the result of palliative treatment i.e. to keep the cancer stable and not progressing if possible. Offically it will not go away but re-grow. So it’s like the tops cut off the dandelions: the roots are still there if not visible. So i have to focus on them disappearing through dietary measures. Or being shot down by rows and rows of amazon women bearing bows and arrows which they shoot right into the tumours.
Rather kindly (and in sharp contrast to an earlier occasion) Dr Dawson actually suggested that maybe not only had the life infusing chemo continued to do its’ work in the interim, but also maybe my enzymes/ diet might have contributed. Nice of her given that she is dismissive on the whole about complementary or alternative treatments as ‘there is no proof’. Still actually is hardly likely as i am still easing myself into it all (odd bit of delicious dark chocolate at night; fish pie and rhubarb crumble for a Chilean supper with Giovanna and Carlos to welcome Ruby back from seeing her Dad, recovering from a heart attack in Antafaghasta, Chile; home made ravioli chez Giovanna and Carlos for Carlos’ birthday etc). Still i am juicing carrot and apple and green juices and doing coffee enemas and eating Hippocrates soup and oatmeal and taking enzymes and getting used to it. Dr Dawson was incredulous about the enzymes: she put me right when i said they were natural – ‘no they are not… that’s what is added to washing powder to get the washing clean!’ what am i taking?
I have persuaded my GP Doctor Eddington to support me into Gersen: she did look rather horrified in a controlled sort of way but agreed to support my need for regular blood and urine tests which i will send to Gersen therapist Stephen Gamble in Melton Mowbray (ah pork pie land- no more pork pies for me!) so he can check my progress and make sure the Gersen therapy is not having an adverse effect.
I agreed to do one more cycle of pink chemo pills, that is fourteen days, at a reduced amount so as to minimise the neuropathy side effects. So far so good. Still my white platelet blood levels are down: i gave blood last wednesday as usual before treatment and when i got to the hospital friday for my cycle check up, they took more blood as the wednesday sample showed white platelets at 1.3 i think the nurse said and they must be 1.5 to have more chemo. They were up to 1.5 so i am on it.
Meanwhile I went to celebrate with Mike and Adrienne at Filmhouse Friday seeing Jane Eyre and loved the drama of it. I am endeavouring to re-write a chapter for an academic book on 1968, Music and Social Protest, for which i wrote a beautiful, detailed chapter on Cuban ‘nueva trova’ music which the editors were luke warm about as it was different to the outline they had first accepted (wilful writing or what?!), and according to one editor ‘already known histor’y (i knew that but it is not the way i see it of course – i was there first etc.., and have asubtly different viewpoint0 which is actually true – still – yikes one becomes almost obnoxiously territorial and a wee bit arrrogant!). So at very last minute I am bluffing myself into doing it against the odds and am changing to what i originally promised. Will I manage it? as always re Chile or Cuba I am full of self doubt that i can manage it, as i get my knickers in a right twist over anything to do with ‘new song’ in those countries – i simply care too much about it, know too much about it and am rather biased etc – and truthfully it is bound up so closely with trauma in my own life (the coup in Chile; the end of my marriage) I should run a mile. Maybe i will manage – i do do hope so! I know it back to front and could write it without notes really.
Meanwhile last week i had my first ever house concert: Galo, my lovely Chilean guitarist friend, played rarely heard South American guitar music – a superb programme enjoyed by almost 50 people crammed into my front room, with wine and juice before, and home-made cake, brownies (thanks to Jennet and Judy) tea, coffee afterwards. Hugely enjoyed by a real mixed crowd of friends and contacts and we raised £500 towards Galo’s trip to see his Dad in Chile (Galo is Ruby’s younger brother and they were exiled here after the 1973 coup, when they were still very young children, and it was all very awful for them really). Galo is a fine guitarist who I feel could have a great career playing all the UK and European guitar festivals, if he could find the desire and courage: an RSAMD graduate, he’s created music for many theatre shows (including the National Theatre of Scotland); he was a founder member of Salsa Celtica, and much more: as well as regular performances with singer-songwriter Carlos (Arredondo, see the website FABULA). But Galo does not see it my way! Still he plays music absolutely no one else in the UK plays and he does it exquisitely…Plop! as condorito would say!! (condorito is a Chilean comic book figure of many years standing and anything untoward that happens he says plop! to. he’s a favoruoite of Galo’s and his Dad sometimes sends Galo the latest copy of the comic to him by mail which he occasionallly gives to me as birthday present or similar)
Thanks to GAlo! and to Fran, Carlos and Giovanan for helping host the concert; to Dave (Richardson) for helping move furniture back the next day; to Val (Fraser) for helping set up the roomandf for arranging the flowers; to Douglas (Robertson) for lending chairs. Thanks to everyone for comin. We have an excellent recording of most of it, and a good digital film recording too – thank you Emily! Maybe a skype one too -thank you Rachel. Just got to work out how to edit it all and get it up on youtube! Any offers of help gratefully received.