Cancer update

Dear all,

Time for a cancer update – and rather a gloomy one, I’m afraid.

Round about the time that we had declared the first attempt at chemo a success, the cancer fought back.  The pain and discomfort, from an increasingly swollen stomach, have crept up, and the energy levels shrank back.   To start with I carried on a programme of a bit more activity, but each time I did more, I was more exhausted.  My stomach is now swollen like it was last December, when I last had in drained.  The swelling is a common side-effect of cancer activity.

The drugs I used were oxalyplatin, capecitabine and avastin.  They are known to work well, but often not for long, as the cancer gets the better of them.

So I spoke to the consultant  and now we have arranged a stomach drain for Monday, and a different course of chemo, the drugs being irinetocan (5FU), folinic acid (FOLFIRI) and Cetuximab, starting on Friday.  In the meantime, but for the stomach drain, I am not straying far from my bed.

My friend David is at a similar stage of bowel cancer to me, and has just started on Cetuximab, and says he is feeling far better with it, so I’m irrationally optimistic about it!

Thank you all very much for all your kind thoughts, and prayers, religious or otherwise

Adam

Size 11’s

Since I was 16 my shoe size has been 10 (UK size). For the first couple of years, that was big, but then everyone else caught up and ever since it has been normal. So all my shoes are size 10. Every single one of them.

With the morphine and the chemo, my feet swelled. Like balloons. As the doctor explained, I was being less active, and the body had less energy for pumping everything up from feet to torso, so there the fluids sat. This was a bit upsetting. I’ve always done quite a lot of running, and thought my legs and feet were my best feature, aesthetically speaking, but now, to look down at them was to look down on two slovenly slugs. And a practical problem arose when, after a longish period of not getting out of the front door at all, I decided I was due for exercise, and wanted a walk round the block. So I went to put my shoes on. They wouldn’t fit. Another pair. They wouldn’t fit. And another pair. They wouldn’t fit either.

Ah no – so I couldn’t go for a walk! But that was too awful, like being in prison. Walk round the block in slippers? Not good, they were tight too and it was cold and wet. Go and buy some? Yes but – not immediately, the shops were not open, and also I’d need some footwear to go to the shops in. (Shoes are one thing I’m reluctant to buy online. You really do need to check they are comfortable.) Lateral thinking required.

I have some tall neighbours. Borrow! Mick is tall. So I asked “what shoe size are you?” “Ten.” Bother.

Jamie is also tall. So I asked him. This time – 11! Bingo! They fitted a treat. A week of Jamie’s trainers, a trip to the shops, and now I have my very own size 11’s!

Yesterday was Round 4 of chemo.  All went fine, though Time flew by as the friend who was visiting told me of her undercover adventures investigating slavery on the prawn ships of the South China Sea, (like prisons themselves, enormous and not coming in to land for years on end) and the Burmese refugees in Thailand who get press-ganged into manning them.  (No papers, no legal status, it’s easy for them to disappear.)  She wore a James-Bond-style button videocamera as she interviewed the middlemen…

People have warned me that the exhaustion, from chemo, is cumulative. I slept through from 4pm when I got home from the hospital, til 2am this morning.  So then I was up and about, checking email, eating, and now, at 8am, I’m ready to go back to bed again!

Quick health update

I’m now half way through my chemo: both half way through the third two-week cycle, and half way through overall, as there are six cycles.  I’m mostly on top of it, following an overflow of pain in the first cycle, nausea in the second, and constipation in the third, though there are still bad days and I get rapidly and vividly exhausted, so have extra sleep at numerous points in the day. I’m MUCH better in the mornings (like now, 5am) than the evenings, when I flake out.  I only get to find out if the chemo has worked – eg reduced the size and ferocity of the cancer, at the end of the process, some time in March
We have my sister Clara visiting at the moment, helping out with Adam-care, child-care, and being a general benign presence!
Despite the cancer, I most certainly am enjoying life; I’m not used to life being slow and gentle, and having ample time to enjoy the view out of the window, the pictures round the house, BBC Radio 3 playing gems from the classical repertoire, for writing this blog.  It’s all very nice!