News reports on the Boston Marathon this week reminded me it’s 12 months since I had the second of my lung operations. It was the night before my op as I listened to the radio trying to drop off to sleep when reports of the bombing started to come through. I must have slept well that night because it was a couple of days before I realised the extent of the carnage that took place. Following my operation I spent a day in intensive care, and another on HDU before I was transferred back to the ward. At the time I thought I was approaching the end of my cancer journey, yet hear I am 12 months later and I don’t seem any nearer the finish line than I was when I was first diagnosed back in 2011. What a marathon ! Aside from the commemorations for those who lost their lives in the bomb blasts last year, this years Boston Marathon also made the news because of BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth’s tremendous efforts in raising money for cancer charities. Not only has she completed the Boston 26 and a bit miles, but this being just a week after completing the London Marathon. Her efforts follow the news of her colleague, George Alagiah being diagnosed with bowel cancer. We don’t know the precise details of George’s diagnosis, but I wish him well. We need to get the message across to people, early diagnosis saves lives ! George is 58, still relatively young to be diagnosed with what is still considered to be an older persons disease.The NHS bowel cancer screening tests are only offered to people over the age of 60 ! Ridiculous. Increasingly more and more younger people are being diagnosed, a point being drummed home by Bowel Cancer UK with their #Never2Young campaign.
Regular followers of my blog will know of a number of victims who have lost their lives to bowel cancer whilst still in their twenties, so so tragic, and we can’t let it continue. April is also Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, and is marked by the Beating Bowel Cancer charity ‘Lift The Lid’ campaign. My own consultant is on the medical board of Beating Bowel Cancer and is making the keynote speech at their Patient Day, today (Sat 25th). I don’t know how he finds the time, but it shows the measure of the man in that he is prepared to devote his own time to bowel cancer charities. Please take a look at both of the links (click on logo) I have posted above, to see if there is anything you can do to promote or support the work of either of these charities and support their respective campaigns. It really does make a difference.
As for my own progress, I’ve signed all the consent forms prior to commencing another course of chemotherapy on Wednesday. From that you will gather that surgery to remove the tumour on my liver is not an option, at least for the time being. North Manchester Hospital haven’t really said much more than they recommend more chemo and they will look at the situation again in a few months. The poisons on the menu are Cetuximab, and a cocktail of Irinotecan, Fluorouracil and folinic acid. A couple of anti sickness and steroid infusions will be thrown in for good measure. Once again the Fluorouracil will be given over 46 hours, which will mean a chemo pump will be accompanying me for the duration. That always makes comfortable sleeping -NOT !!! I won’t be having Oxaliplatin as part of the regime this time. It was stopped after a couple of cycles last time I had chemo due to severe side effects, which I’m still experiencing now. Whether there were any benefits from this additional drug I’ll never know, but it’s certainly not worth risking again this time. I’ll be having a port-a-cath fitted on Monday so that the chemo can be delivered straight into a major artery. I had a different device last time, a hickman line, but am pleased to be taking part in a study trial comparing the benefits of the two different devices. I was randomly selected to get the port-a-cath, which has many benefits to me personally as it will make festivals a lot easier, and is much less likely to get infected. At least there are some benefits to chemotherapy this time.
I’m not sure what to think of how things have turned out yet. On the one hand I’m relieved not to have to go through more surgery on my liver. It’s exhausting and dangerous. Yet it’s the best treatment where it’s possible. One the other hand, chemotherapy, it’s exhausting and dangerous. Chemo is an ordeal in itself, and I’ve been warned that I may get more side effects this time due to the accumulative effect. Initially, it will be over 6 cycles taking approx. 3 months, with a scan towards the end. Whether surgery will be possible or even necessary at the end of it all I’ll have to wait and see. I don’t think I’ve got over the disappointment of being in this position yet again, and I’m anxious over what the coming few months will do to me. I don’t feel anything like as well as I did last time I started chemotherapy. I’m tired, nowhere near as strong and I’ve had 4 major operations since then. Thankfully my treatment schedule fits around Glastonbury week, so at the moment there will not be any need to postpone any of the planned treatments. However I’m only too aware that a slight infection or adverse reaction could put this schedule in jeopardy, and dates so far confirmed may go out of the window. Whatever happens, it’s certainly going to make for an interesting if not different festival.
Apart from numerous visits to hospital this last few weeks, I’m glad to have been able to get out to a couple of gigs. I’ve been recruited to write for silent radio, a Manchester based music website, which pleases me immensely, and should take my mind off other things that are going on. I was lucky enough to interview Brody Dalle last week (if you don’t already know who she is you might not be interested) which was a bit of a scoop for me personally. What a lovely lady she was too. Head over to silentradio and you can read the interview, plus a couple of reviews I’ve written.