Two days after the doctor phoned we were at Raigmore hospital nervously waiting to see a consultant. To say it was overwhelming is an understatement. From trying to get a parking space close to the hospital with Als back in such a state, to finding the haematology ward, to the endless amounts of tubes of bloods taken. Then a few hours later we were sat in front of the consultant dazed & confused by this new world that we had fallen into.
“Mr Gilmour you have multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer normally found in people over 60 years old.
Your bloods are showing you have a Para protein count well over 64 which is off the scale. The reason you are in so much pain is because this cancer leaches the calcium from your bones into your blood stream & as a result it is clear from the pain you are in you will have damage to your spine or ribs. We will need to do a series of scans, a bone marrow biopsy & a kidney function test to see what damage the cancer has caused.”
Treatment needed to be started immediately.
“This will all be done with a combination of tablets & a monthly infusion over 5-6 months then you will be ready to go for a stem cell transplant, but lets concentrate on the chemo first. The chemo will be a combination of drugs called VTD - velvade, thalidomide & dexamethasone. This disease is not curable but it is treatable, we will do everything we can to try & get you into a period of remission. You are young fit & healthy so this is very much to your advantage.”
The room went suddenly silent as we tried to process all the information, my ears were ringing. Was this really happening? How can this be happening? Al is one of the fitest, strongest, healthiest men I have ever met. How can he get a cancer that is most likely in the elderly?
I drove us home, we were silent and very scared.
I went out for a run. I ran & ran & ran, listening to Rage Against the Machine full blast. I slowly realised I was crying, hysterically crying, yelling into the wide open spaces in front of me. “What the fuck, stupid cancer, you cant take him, he is all I have.” The only person who truly knows & understands me, the only person who grounds me. I got home & Al was sleeping, snuggled up with Jura our springer spaniel. I watched them & loneliness hit me like a tidal wave. I felt helpless.
I was anxious to start deep cleaning the kitchen. I needed my brain to stop & so the Tazmanian devil part of me started up distraction mode. The tidiness & organisation of the house was the one bit of my life I could control. “I will scrub the shit out of you kitchen, I will concentrate on anything else apart from the fact my husband has incurable cancer.”