22 October 2013 – Little Niggles (Cancer and Me 26)

1st August 2015 0 By Andy Burrows

I wrote this chapter before knowing the outcome…

The point is that when you’ve had cancer, and gone into remission, especially when you’re in remission after a relapse, every little niggle becomes a reason to worry. I’m sure I must have said this before.

So for the last few weeks – I can’t remember how long – I’ve had a very slight ache in my right leg, down the calf from behind my knee. Sometimes it affects the bottom of my thighs. It’s never horrendous. I hardly need to limp.

At first I put it down to over stretching a muscle at my son’s football match as I was trying to demonstrate a particular exercise to his coach. Then when it didn’t clear up I reasoned that I am overweight and I’m too heavy for my legs. (I’ve been trying to lose weight for ages, but haven’t really got very far because I haven’t been disciplined enough.)

Heidi, on the other hand, loves Google! She is a Google Doc! Every ailment, ache and pain can be googled and diagnosed without any professional help. And she found that some people who have been diagnosed with lymphoma had aches and pains in their legs in just the way I describe. That’s because there are lymph nodes in the legs, and in the back. Lymphoma can affect any lymph nodes, and sometimes not only can you get pain directly from swollen lymph nodes in the legs, but you can get sciatic pain caused by swollen nodes in the back putting pressure on the sciatic nerve, which in turn shoots pain down your legs.

So now my aching legs are indicating another relapse apparently… to her at least.

Another relapse at this point would be pretty depressing. I only started maintenance Rituximab 6 months ago. I was confirmed in remission 9 months ago. To relapse within a year was not what I was expecting, and I haven’t saved up enough money to be off work while I have the stem cell transplant.

Under pressure from my wife, I mentioned this to my haematology consultant last week when I went for my Rituximab, and he took it seriously enough to have a look and referred me for an ultrasound scan, saying that it could be a cyst – I think they call it a Baker’s Cyst (good old Google again!).

Now, of course, comes the waiting. Waiting for the appointment to come through at the moment, but then there will be waiting for the results. I don’t think we’ll have any indications as to what is causing my leg ache for at least 4 weeks, so in the meantime we are just left wondering. I could put it out of my mind and not think about it until the results come, but Heidi can’t and therefore I can’t.

I just want to be free of this disease. I want it out of my mind until it’s definitely back. I don’t want it hanging over me every day, making me aware of my vulnerability every day. I want to live a normal life, just for a couple of years at least.