“So, how have you been, Tanya?” Dr Stein, my psychiatrist says as I settle down in the chair on the other side of the desk. Mum sits next to me.
“Well I’ve been horribly ill all week,” I say. “An infection that spread around my right side, I’ve had an enormous temperature, 102 degrees…”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” he says, a look of concern in his big blue eyes.
“And, um, I went on my holiday and the day after I arrived I realised that the cancer had come back, and my surgeon took some biopsies last week and the cancer is back. The infection is around the biopsy punches,” I say.
“And how is your mood?” He says, scribbling something in my notes.
“Well it came down a little bit, after I put the anti-depressant down, so I put it back up and…”
“Did you? I thought we decided that you weren’t going to?” Mum says.
“Well I did,” I say. “Thirty isn’t a therapeutic dose, you know that. I need it to be at sixty.”
“Very wise, in view of everything that’s going on,” Dr Stein says. “So what are they going to do to find out about the cancer and…”
“Two scans next Wednesday,” I say. “CAT and bone scans, I don’t have a date for the bone scan yet and…”
“When did you last have any scans?” Dr Stein says.
“Last April,” I say. “When I first got the cancer diagnosis. I had all the scans then and…”
“Nothing since then?” He says.
“Nothing,” I say. “So I’m concerned that maybe it has spread to some places – it’s just been lurking in the skin so who knows where else it might be and…”
“Let’s hope the scans come back clear,” he says. “And if, as we hope the scans come back clear…”
“I just don’t understand why five weeks of radiotherapy didn’t kill it though,” I say. “It practically killed the rest of me: burnt all my skin off, made me sleep about twenty hours a day…”
“What will happen afterwards, if the scans are clear?” Dr Stein says, again.
“They will chop the affected skin away,” I say. “Which is OK,” but I find that I’m crying because I’m in pain and I’m exhausted and…
“Don’t cry darling,” Mum says, “We’ll get through this,” in the tone of voice that she uses to comfort me if I don’t hear back from a boy or I drop a few marks in an exam or I have to miss a day at the office.
“Any kittens under the car?” Mum says as we carry the shopping in. Crouching down to peer under Dad’s car, I spot a telltale orange tail. “Come out of there, you silly boy,” Mum says, she must have spotted him too.
Shaking himself, long orange fleece swishing about him, he squeezes out into the open. This is a bad new habit, this sleeping under the car, a habit of orange cats apparently. When we first brought the tiny kitten home, my uncle took one look at him, shook his head and said. “He’s the spitting image of an orange kitten I had. Longhaired, orange, liked sleeping under cars. Didn’t last very long.”
However, our orange cat has very nearly made it to a year old and we are all hoping that he will clear the final hurdle. So, every car in the drive will be checked to make sure he isn’t underneath it before it is allowed to leave.
How does one remove a large dark patch of oil from a cat’s coat though?
“White spirit,” Dad says.
“But if he licks that it will poison him,” I say.
“I definitely purchased some cat shampoo,” Mum says. “I’ll look for it later.”