Wednesday, 6 April 2011

I claim...

... I will post more about this later (with a hopefully happy ending).  But for now let's just say that I might have some good news in the next few weeks.

I can't say any more because I don't want to "count my chickens...", but fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Shrunken Lump

Well it sounds like it could be the name of a 1970's horror film, or kung fu movie, but no it's about my relapsed lymph node.

Saw my oncologist on Monday and he said my lump had reduced to 1.2cm.  To put this in context, it started at 1.8 (when I was diagnosed as relapsing), then grew to 2.4 (by the morning of my first chemo session) and now in my first scan post-chem it's back to 1.2cm.  So for me that's a result and I am very happy with where it is up to.  Hopefully it'll shrink some more and my next scan (6 months time) will show that.

One slight wrinkle is that it is still above the magic threshold of 1cm, and as such my notes have been referred to the surgical team for them to decide whether or not it needs to be removed.  My suspicion is that they'll leave it alone, at least until after my next scan.

So from my naive position I am back on surveillance and that's a result.

Now the only big-C left to worry about (at the moment) is Christmas... :)

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Well I've not posted for a while, and that was deliberate. A month-or-so ago I finished my chemotherapy and since then I've been trying to get my life back to normal.  To that end I had a couple of weeks "light duties" working from home, and then it was back into the office (Mon, wed and Fri the first two weeks).  I have to say being back at work has been great, even though they are under a great deal of pressure at the moment (delivery dates rapidly approaching).

And overall I think I, and my family, have managed to achieve a reasonable degree of normality.  As the days turn into weeks, my body is slowly returning to normal (the chemo-poisons are leaving my system) and so now I do want to get back to things like getting fit again...

However there are a couple of wrinkles and they revolve around last Monday and tomorrow, as those are the dates of my post-chemo scan and consultation with my oncologist respectively.  Now, over the past few weeks I've managed to put a lot of this chemo/cancer business behind me; yes it's still fairly prominent in my thoughts, but not as much as it was.  Well that was until last week and now, it's right back up there at the front of everything I do...

I am happy to confess I am nervous about tomorrow, probably the main reason being the little "ache" I had in my left-hand abdominal area that started just before my relapse was diagnosed is still with me.  To me, both are related and therefore if the ache is still there then (regardless of the success of the chemotherapy) the lump on my lymph node is still there and that means an operation.  It could be that these to things are not related, but in my mind they are, so I am expecting the news "Well the lump is still there, when would you like to be operated on..." and the fallout, in terms of telling family and work colleagues that there is another twist in my cancerous tail.

So I'll sign off, go to bed and await tomorrow's meeting...

Friday, 29 October 2010

9 weeks of BEP - what it meant to me...

Okay, so the drugs are over... and for all intents and purposes the (BEP) chemotherapy is over.  Something might need to be done later, or it might not, but I'll worry about that later - get the scan and results first then worry about what's next.

So this little post is a kind of review of the whole (my) BEP process.

9 weeks of treatment:
  • 3 x 3 days as inpatient for all drugs (weeks 1, 4 and 7 Wednesday - Friday)
  • 6 x 0.5 days as outpatient for bleomycin (the other weeks, on Friday)
  • 1 x CT Scan (on the day of starting treatment)

30 bags of chemo-drugs:
  • 9 lots of Etoposide
  • 9 lots of Bleomycin
  • 12 lots of Cisplatin

Other drugs:
  • 13 lots of saline (because I wasn't ever sick, or else it could/would have been a lot more)
  • 9 lots of hydrocortisone (one before each bleomycin)
  • 15 lots of steroids (each 3 days as inpatient and then the following 2 days)
  • 15 lots of strong anti sickness pills (each 3 days as inpatient and then the following 2 days)
  • 20+ lots of "normal" anti sickness pills (as and when at home)
  • 30+ lots of sleeping pills (though I am now weening myself of them)
  • 20 lots of G-CSF immune system drugs

  • 9 cannulas (one for each hospital visit)
  • 17 attempts to get the cannula(s) in place (including the "successful" ones)
  • 2 additional bits of needlework (for bloodwork)
  • 1 fainting fit
  • 3 foot massages
  • Many litres of urine manufactured by me (one of my best achievements!)
Side effects:
  • 3 x chemo-cold (in hindsight, the end of each inpatient resulted in a "chemo-cold" that lasted for 4 - 7 days)
  • Hair loss (they said this would be total, but for me (at least so far) it hasn't - lost most, but not all of my head-of-hair (kept the grey stuff!), lost my bread/stubble, lost my pubic hair and lost a bit (calf area) from my legs).
  • Dry skin
  • Strange eczema bits on fingers and toes
  • Fat/arthritic fingers (periodically)
  • Pins and needles (fingers and forearm)
  • Tinnitus (occasionally)
  • Rubbish sense of taste
  • Really bad sense of smell (almost everything smells awful)
  • Racing heart rate (pretty much always between 80 - 100 bpm - even at rest!!??)
Other stuff:
  • 1 additional x-ray
  • 1 additional bloodtest
  • 1 mortality on the ward

Phew, looking at the above - it's a bit of a list.  And I'll be the first to admit - the whole process is pretty crap!  But then we are dealing with a very unpleasant subject area, aren't we?!

Now I wouldn't wish the above on anyone.  But if you've got to have the treatment then I'd simply say - get it done!!  It's not pleasant, but (at least for me) the 9-week cycle seemed to fly by.  I didn't (don't) enjoy the side effects, but not everyone gets them and not everyone has them at the same degree of severity.  The key stage for me was getting past the second chemo-cold, that signified the coming end of the whole process.  And now were (I am) here!!

Regardless of scan results, there's still a long way to go.  But that's just how it has to be.  I'd done (had done) what was needed, lets hope these heavy duty poisons have done the trick...

Take care


ps - I will be back...

29/10/2010 Day 59 - The last drugs

Today's the day!  The day of my last administered BEP drugs...  My final bag of bleomycin!  And as a cerebration(?!) those nice people at The Christie really speeded through the whole process.  They were really busy but somehow everything was done-and-dusted by, what, 13:30!

They somehow have me down on the notes as "pathetic male" when it comes to the cannula part.  Admittedly I don't much like that bit, and admittedly I did faint on the first bleo outpatient appointment - but there were mitigating circumstances, and it did take them three attempts.  Anyhow, because of this they still managed to find me a complementary foot massage lady (Joanne).  Sadly she didn't arrive until after the cannula, but that meant that I could just enjoy the indulgence!!

So that's it for treatment.  My oncologist came in  for a quick chat and we (he!) booked me in for my CT scan and follow-up visit at the end of November/beginning of December.  So those are the dates to look forward to.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

26/10/2010 Day 56 - This is work calling

Yesterday, after some self imposed exile, I logged back into work and found a stack load of emails to deal with (amongst other things).  Given that I've been out of action for 8+ weeks now it is quite amazing to see just how far the old place has progressed since I last got in touch.

One email in my list was from the boss who (and I quote) said:

"Excuse the less than tactful approach, but when are you going to be back working again... 1st Nov, 8th Nov..."

Now given the amount of support I've had from work (the boss) he can pretty much be  as tactless as he likes - he has been little short of amazing during this whole process.

We had a couple of emails on the subject and basically as/when my immune system is sorted.  Actually there is a bit more because he (and I) want to get back to working ASAP.  So today was my first day "back", well in terms of working from home - but actually working.  It is good to be doing something rather than just clock watching for the next set of drugs, or the next day of the process!

Friday is the last set of drugs (bleomycin) and hopefully 8th November sees the proper return to work.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

23/10/2010 Day 53 - One bag to go!

Yesterday (22nd Oct) was Bleomycin day, and went without a hitch.  I got to the hospital (quick stop at Costa Coffee for a brew and a cake) on time and they were (unlike the last outpatient visit) really quick.  I've obviously been there a lot, because I knew everyone of the staff this time around.

Shortly after being shown to my "room" sensual Julie arrived and was straight in with a foot massage - very nice, and totally distracted me from the cannula experience!  (Which I have to say was probably the best cannula incision that I've had to date).

Bloods came back fine and I was off...  Not only that, my immunity injections (and sleeping pills) came back within half an hour, so the whole thing went like a dream...

Back home, kids and dog spending the night at the in-laws, feeling much better (on the up after the chemo blues) so last night was pretty good as well.

And now (next Friday) just the one bag of poison left to go... :)