I don’t think of this as a battle or fight with cancer. I feel like it is more a game of chess and so far I have been in control. I feel like my old self and people say to me all the time how well I look and I feel good:)
As mentioned in the Blog , the 1st January saw the pump removed and the PICC line removed too. I dyed my hair (yippee) which made me feel so much better. It had suffered with the over production of keratin on my face and scalp and the old colour dye had faded to reveal grey hair. Not my favourite colour….
On 27 January 2017 I had another CT scan to see what shrinkage has occurred since the last time which was after 4 treatments; I had 12 in all. That CT scan should have been a halfway one but the medication saw delays in treatments as blood counts were not sufficient. But even after 4, Dr Jackson said ” there has been above average shrinkage”.
We saw Dr Jackson on 2 February to hear that ” there had been greater than average shrinkage” and a mass that was 11 cm is now 4.5 cm. Also, he had raised my situation with 4 bowel specialists at their Thursday meeting and they agreed that I should meet with their big chief Mr Cecil as surgery could be an option now:) The downside is that the scan revealed blood clots in the veins of the lungs. Not unusual apparently amongst chemo patients. So I have to inject myself daily with Enoxaparin Sodium (in the folds of my stomach – haha – we all had a laugh about that. Good job the cake eating means I haven’t lost weight) ….This will thin the blood effectively. Here’s to facing up to one’s phobias – needles…..I also had an ultrasound organised at short notice the same day as my right ankle had swollen and there was concern I may have a clot in my leg. Fortunately it was a negative result!
On 3 February, at Maggie’s in Oxford I met a yoga teacher , who is my inspiration. He was terminal but now after 2.5 years has the all clear from the last 2 of his quarterly CT scans. He went to Hipocrates in Miami and had a 3 week raw veg detox and they changed his mindset to a positive one. He came home and did meditation, prayer and continued with the anti cancer diet……Amazing!
Saw Mr Cecil, God when it comes to bowels, on 24 February and he outlined the options of which surgery is now possible – the shrinkage has been that good. And cancer has disappeared from my stomach lining but some lymph nodes may be infected or just inflamed. It is my choice completely which option to go for, with one end of the range being major surgery (in hospital for 2-3 weeks with 2 months recovery) including a hysterectomy and bowel section removed. Maybe a temporary stoma will be required which if so further surgery is required and then a session of chemo. I could stay intact and just have further chemo. And he has offered a laparoscopy via the belly button to have a look around with no commitment as to the next option; beit surgery, chemo or nothing. Decisions; decisions…..
Had an MRI scan on 14 March and saw Mr Cecil on 17 March. The MRI scan shows more shrinkage which is brill news seeing as the last chemo treatment was on 30 December! But the detail of the MRI has shown cancer cells in the pelvis which cannot be removed with surgery. However, the lymph nodes which were a concern are fine. He also mentioned that any surgery WILL involve a temporary stoma -so 2 operations with chemo chucked in too. My choice to make. The laparoscopy is booked for 11 April he said will remove the ovaries at the same time (the right is still diseased even after all the shrinkage and cancer is very aggressive in this organ). Then another CT scan due at the end of April. Lets hope for more shrinkage by then:)
Had the laparoscopy on 11 April; Mr Cecil didn’t take out the ovaries in the end. He said as he wouldn’t be able to take out all the cancerous tissue as well, whereas in major surgery he would be able to. I must admit I was a little disappointed about that. So all things are leading to major surgery which has been earmarked at the end of May. Another CT scan is required later this month with another meeting with Mr Cecil.
On 27 April I met with Dr Jackson for the quarterly review. I wanted to run passed him the information I had obtained from Cancer Options. Of course, he says none of it is mainstream oncology. But he was ok with me taking an aspirin a day as there has been enough study in the benefits of a low dose gastro friendly daily pill. If I didn’t have the major surgery then once the cancer starts to grow (learnt from a future quarterly CT scan) I can have further chemo. Like Mr Cecil he cannot advise one way or the other as both having and not having surgery have their own pros and cons.
12 May. We saw Mr Cecil for the results of the quarterly CT scan which shows that the cancer is stable – no growth. Great News! I told him that I have chosen not to have surgery. I am feeling so well and 2 operations over a few months with around 6 months recovery will set me back big time – physically and mentally. The laparoscopy gave me a taster of that. The operations won’t remove all the cancer cells and cure me though it is good to know there is still an opportunity for surgery in the future. So we will review the situation in 3 months time after the next CT scan. In the meantime I will continue with the complementary therapies……
Saw Mr Jackson, Oncologist for the results of the latest scan on 17 August. The cancer that was in the right ovary, although it reduced after chemo, has now started to grow again there. I fortunately have no physical evidence of this – no abdominal pain for example. So I am being referred back to Mr Cecil for his view on surgery to remove them and prolong my life. Asked about the original tumour Dr J said it was not mentioned in the report and so ”it is of no worry” and ”it is stable”.
31 August. Saw Dr J who has run my case passed Mr Cecil, surgeon. Mr C thinks as I am so well with no symptoms then I should consider having more chemo rather than surgery. (To me it seems a sensible time to have surgery when one is well). He will meet with me to discuss face to face . Have agreed this is a good idea as this message didn’t fit with the last conversation we had with Mr C.
15 September. Saw Mr Cecil, the surgeon, to better understand his comment, following my recent scan, to Dr Jackson: ‘as I am in such good health then more chemo would be best’. We now understand Mr Cecil’s thinking about extending life and reducing the chance of new cancer growth. A second round of chemo now is, we agree, the better option. The door is not closed to surgery but when the right ovary (which has grown 2cm since the January scan) becomes a really pesky pain, then surgery will be appropriate. But of course by then it won’t be keyhole surgery!!
When asked about the original tumour in the bowel, Mr Cecil, who uses CT scans all the time, said in a long reply that ‘the CT scan doesn’t give enough detail….’ and in another sentence ‘cancer can just disappear’…Jeremy remembers him saying, ‘it hasn’t gone’, but was he saying in a round about way that the original tumour had shrunk? As a medic, he’s hardly likely to admit that the complementary therapies have worked. Dr Jackson had said previously that the primary tumour wasn’t mentioned in the scan report. Interesting, I take that as good news. I’ll question it again when I have my next quarterly scan.
26 September. Spoke with Dr Jackson. As the next quarterly scan is due next month and as I am in very good health with no physical symptoms of my condition, he suggests doing that first before commencing the next round of chemo. He said he’s ”usually prescribing chemo treatments to relieve people of their symptoms”… So I take from that I am doing better than most and that he would have expected me to be ‘suffering’ by now.
October 2017. This will be Milestone One achieved. It was April 2016 that I was given 18-24 months to live. This is month 18!! Pass me the bubbly…..
26 October. Had the next quarterly scan and asked if the radiologist could report on cancer shrinkage as well as growth. Have an appointment to see Dr Jackson 2 weeks hence.
9 November. Saw Dr J for the results of the last quarterly scan. The good news is that it hasn’t spread elsewhere. Dr J measured it on the latest scan image (Oct) and in the 3 months since the last quarterly scan (July) it has grown around 1cm. Putting a positive spin on it – that is 50% less than the 3 months prior (Apr to July) when Mr Cecil measured the re-growth as 2cm.
So we have agreed to delay the next round of chemo as I feel fine and have no physical symptoms. I’ll have another quarterly scan in January 2018 and see him again two weeks after that for the results. However, should I have any pain then I contact him immediately to start chemo!