In April 1995 I began working part-time – 25 hours a week – for the Auckland Women’s Health Council, taking on the position of co-ordinator after Judi Strid left to set up the Women’s Health Information Centre at National Women’s Hospital. Now, after almost 22 years, I have resigned. Friday 3 March was officially my last day, although I will be involved in many of the handover activities over the next few weeks as the new co-ordinator settles into the role.
It is going to take a while to get used to being an officially retired person, someone who is no longer in the paid workforce. I am very aware that although the demands of the job have got beyond what my energy levels will allow and it is definitely time to step down, taking such a huge step feels like a really significant milestone. While I am really looking forward to having more time to myself over the next few months, I am not at all sure what lies beyond the door I have just stepped through. I have mixed feelings about it, and my dreams are currently providing proof of my distress over the loss of this aspect of my identity.
I am also in unknown territory physically. My gastrointestinal tract is in good shape – the best it has been since I first began chemotherapy in December 2015 – and my appetite has slowly improved over the past month or so. The last CT scan suggested that the cancer is stable, and the latest blood test I had revealed that the pancreatic cancer biomarker had halved again for the third time. At the end of January it was down to 654, and the result of the blood test I had 10 days ago showed it was now 354. Given that it was 6,800 when I first received the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, this is amazing. I am not sure what this means, so I emailed Dr S. and asked him what he thought was behind the continued downward trend. Could it be the ongoing effects of the paclitaxel I had in November and December last year, I asked. That was a possibility, he said, and if it was it was a shame that I had not been able to tolerate the weekly chemotherapy sessions. Maybe it was time for another chat, he suggested.
As my feet are still numb, and the soles of my feet feel like they have a layer of thick sponge which interferes with walking and my sense of balance – a side effect of both cisplatin which was one of the four PEXG drugs, and the more recent paclitaxel sessions I underwent – I am in no mind to consider having any more chemotherapy. But I feel as though I am in some kind of limbo land where the cancer is currently stable, as in not progressing or spreading, and I am feeling reasonably okay.
So it’s time to think about adding a couple of things to my bucket list.