My office was in Vauxhall Bridge Road, Victoria and I had to be at Euston within 45 minutes. No time for dodging the congestion charge zones that I am usually pretty good at avoiding, so I dashed straight through the centre of London. Victoria Street, past Parliament, Whitehall (I remember cursing as traffic was stopped to allow Tony Blair to sweep into Downing St), Trafalgar Square, Charring Cross Rd, then straight up Tottenham Court Road to Euston. I was due to meet M off the train at Euston, we hadn’t seen each other for a week or so and were due to spend the weekend together, which included seeing Robbie Williams at Knebworth the following day. It would not have been my concert of choice I admit, but M had tickets and it gave us the opportunity to spend the weekend together (this was prior to me moving in). The concert was absolutely amazing, and Robbie was bloody brilliant. The weekend turned into a week as M joined me travelling round the country for work, sampling the delights of what Travelodge has to offer. Anyway, I managed to get to Euston in time to meet her off the train, and we checked in at the Travel Inn near Euston Station. There’s a point to all this, honest. All will become clear shortly, just hang in there with me.
In the evening, we left the car in the hotel car park and made our way to Camden where we had arranged to meet a few friends. Half way through the evening it suddenly dawned on me…congestion charge ! Not normally a problem, TFL make it pretty easy to pay the charge, online, phone, shops, just providing you have the car registration number. It was a company car, and was changed for a new one every six months. Could I remember the registration number? Could I hell. I had a few stabs at it, guessed at a few combinations. I knew what car it was, I knew what roads I had been on, but without the correct registration number I could not pay. We were rapidly approaching the deadline when the normal five or six pound charge increased to something around the seventy quid figure. I had no alternative other than to hail a taxi to take me back to Euston, drive past the car park where I noted the registration, and back to Camden. London cabbies are known for their humour, and the driver could not believe the explanation I gave him. It cost me about £25 in taxi fare, but at least it was cheaper than the excess congestion charge. From that day on M and I devised a plan to ensure I always remember the registration of my ever changing car. We devised acronym’s based on the letters contained in the registration. I’d let you in on a few, but they are a bit too, err, intimate. Now here comes the relevance of this yarn. I’m back on 4 wheels again, picked up my brand spanking new car on Monday , and much to my amazement, the registration is made up of M’s initials. I’m not going to forget this one. All that for one punch line, which probably only means something to me. M and I have been in contact quite a few times over the last few weeks, and have agreed that we should meet shortly. I haven’t been well enough since I came out of hospital, and she certainly hasn’t pushed the issue, but it’s getting to the stage that I can’t put it off any longer. Both of us are looking forward to it, but equally we are a little nervous as it has been so long. A window of opportunity is appearing now, I’m getting out and about and there will be a few weeks before I start chemo, so I guess we should sort something out soon. It‘ll be good to see my best friend again.
Ah yes, chemo. I saw Dr. S on Thursday. (Dr S=Oncologist. Mr S = surgeon) He’s anxious to get to work on me, but thinks I need a couple more weeks to get stronger. During that time I’ll be having another PET CT scan and MRI scan to see what’s going on in my liver. I’ll then begin a 12 week course of chemotherapy, (5FU + either oxaliplatin or irinotecan) followed by liver resection. I’m also delighted to be eligible for inclusion on a drugs trial (New Epoc drugs trial) looking at the inclusion of cetuximab, which will be in addition to the standard chemotherapy above. This treatment is dependent on the cancer in my liver still being operable, which gives me the best chance of a cure. We have discussed the options should this not be the case, including the option of a further drugs trial, but I’m not contemplating this yet until surgery has been ruled out completely. Thankfully I’ve already had all the tests that confirm my suitability for the drug trials, so no waiting around for K-Ras result etc. It’s been a long haul since surgery at the beginning of April, and there is still a long way to go yet. A further 12 weeks of chemo after liver surgery means it’s likely to be another 9 months before there is any sight of an end to treatment.
Perhaps most importantly, we discussed my plans for the summer. I’m delighted to report that Dr S see’s no reason for me not to go to any festivals and is happy to tailor treatment around the dates I will be away. This despite the need for me to have a picc line in my chest throughout the summer. In fact he took a great interest into what festivals I was going to and who was playing, how long I had been going to festivals and, of course, Glastonbury. He also took the opportunity of picking my brains with questions about the survival rates for his own children, who are (hoping) to embark on their first festivals this summer. I of course re-assured him that they would be safe and happy – just like me J .