Hello. Vega is now three years in remission. There- best, most important update first. Her end of treatment anniversary happened at the end of May. She is eight years old and a healthy, clever, lovely person.
We are seeing the oncology team at Kings and the Marsden every six months. She had her last check up a few days ago, and as always it was pretty unremarkable. We chat with our consultant who inquires about general wellness, eating, energy… Vega is suffering from belly and headaches a lot so the doctor takes her through a series of little exercises that would determine problems with brain or endocrine function. Everything checks out fine.
Vega has been having some anger issues recently- worse than I can remember Lyra being at this age. We have crazy rages with throwing and kicking things, bad temper and together with headaches, itchy skin and increased urination (still) I am checking whether these could be blood sugar related issues. Well, mainly because once your kid actually had cancer, you kind of go for the big guns every time, so why wouldn’t diabetes be a possibility?! Anyway, our consultant suggested that as children are getting older, some experience anger issues or anxiety in relation to the treatment. An understanding about the severity of the illness and the implications it had or could have had is developing as children are getting older. We are offered counselling.
Multiple thoughts cross my mind at this point- firstly I am thinking about the lack of access to mental health services for children and young people and the difficulties I have seen friends going through trying to access these services. It reminds me that the provision of any services throughout Vega’s treatment has been flawless. I am very very grateful.
Secondly, I am so proud of Vega, who seems to have taken her illness and treatment in such stride- she endured so many procedures and interventions, that she clearly did not want to go through, did not want to happen to her body. I have written about this before, that as a mother I had so many moments where I consented to let things happen to her that she did not want to, and neither did she understand why they were necessary. She trusted me explicitly, and never got mad with me. We had plenty of nos and refusal of stuff, as you will remember if you are a frequent reader of this little blog, but Vega went through treatment with a graceful acceptance that I admire her for. I must also remind myself that she was only three years old when it started.
And so, sitting in the consultants office at Kings, I felt very sure that Vega is actually pretty ok with all this. She talks about her treatment, to us and to her friends. She realises, that even three years later, she is recovering from some pretty hardcore shit she had to put her body through and knows that if her legs get tired a little sooner than those of her mates, it is probably because of some longer term side effects of her chemo. Whenever she talks about her treatment and her illness she is calm and thoughtful and expresses her feelings about it well. There is no sense of anger or anxiety.
And lastly, I realise that I am pretty ok with it all too. I realise that a lot of healing has happened in the last three years and I am feeling much better. I realise we are all much better- not just Vega’s physical health and my state of mind, but also that my other children are fine, that our family is well functioning and that life is pretty good.
For now, we have turned down the offer of counselling.
Vega celebrated her three years in remission by organising a Cake Sale with her friend Gracie. An initiative entirely thought up and planned by the two girls, they set up a little stall outside Gracie’s house to sell cakes. It was a lovely sunny day, the neighbours came, ate cake, the girls sold out and raised an amazing £77 for Children with Cancer UK. Awesome! I love cake, and right now there are plenty of reasons to celebrate with a slice.