On the morning of the 26th, Abi and I were walking to the station to catch a train up to the hospital. We had not discussed the recurrence in July, nor the second tumour, but with her facing chemotherapy, I felt she needed to know what was going on. “Why do you think you’ve been going to the hospital so often recently, Abi?” I asked. Abi looked at the floor, and whispered in reply, “I don’t want to say, daddy”. “Why not Abi?”, I asked, “It’s important we talk about it,” I continued. “I don’t want to say, Daddy”, she repeated. “But Abi, I need to speak to you about it. I need to know what you think is going on so that we can discuss it properly.” Abi seemed emboldened and pointed to her mouth and her skull, “It’s because of the sickness and the ball in my head,” she told me. I wasn’t surprised she knew. After all, her sister had been told about the tumour, and they share much. Besides, she’s smart and would know that there was a reason for her regular visits to the hospital. “That’s right Abi”, I told her. “But it’s no longer a ball so please don’t worry.” I picked up a tiny stone, about the size of a grain of rice. “We’re talking this sort of size. And there’s now signs of that in a couple of different areas.” I paused a little to see the effect on her. She seemed unconcerned, so I continued. “The doctors feel they need to treat you, so they are going to give you some drugs to help.” She still seemed unconcerned. “We are going up to the hospital today to meet the doctor who will be in charge of your treatment. Okay?” I asked. Abi seemed satisfied and happily skipped the remaining 200 yards to the train station.
At the hospital, Dr Musgrove examined Abi, before asking her to go play in the waiting area so he could talk with Sarah and I. “I’m very pleased to see her looking so fit and healthy,” he told us. “In fact, I’m pleasantly surprised, given that she has had three major brain operations and has been in the hospital quite often recently.” I smiled back at him: “I know. It’s remarkable really. Even so, things seem to be getting worse,” I said, sadly. “I have the feeling that we’re losing her,” I admitted. “Nonsense,” he told me. “The span of her spine was clear and her eye test was good too.” Some good news at last. “Furthermore, her tumours are small. If we act quickly, I think we can keep them that way. Do you agree that Abi should have Vinblastine?” he asked. Both Sarah and I did. “However, I know we need to act as soon as possible, but could we delay treatment until after half-term at the end of February?” I asked. “I have some activities planned, and it would be tough to fit in hospital visits.” Dr Musgrove agreed. “But to buy some time, I’d like to get Abi fitted with a port as soon as possible. That’s a thin, soft, hollow tube made of plastic, which is an opening just under the skin, about 3cm in diameter. It goes into a vein in the chest. It is used to give medicines that would otherwise require frequent, painful, injections. Is that okay?” he asked. We agreed. "Good. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve already made the appointment. Abi will have it done under general anaesthetic, on the morning of Friday 6th February 2015.
So there it was. Chemotherapy. For three years I had been rallying against that treatment. So I was extremely nervous about Abi having it. But now we had agreed, I was also keen to be getting on with medicine that I hoped would help Abi.