One of my photos

Unwelcome growth

November 28th, 2018 · Posted by Skuds in Life · 2 Comments · Life

The tl;dr version: I have some cancer, but it will probably all work out in the end. To expand on that a little…Back in the summer I was finding it increasingly harder to eat, getting pains in my stomach even if I had a bite of a biscuit. We thought it might be an ulcer and my doctor thought the same so prescribed me some pills for ulcers. After a couple of weeks it was getting worse rather than better, because I was having trouble swallowing, and another doctor at the surgery sent me for an endoscopy.

The endoscopy found what looked like a tumour in my oesophagus so they took some biopsies during the endoscopy and I had to go for a CT scan. The CT scan confirmed it, so I had to have an ultrasound endoscopy, a PET CT scan, and an MRI scan to see how far it has all spread. I also had to have a laparoscopy so they could look around all my organs.

All very unpleasant, but the NHS has been extremely responsive. I had quickly established that the medical cover I get through work would cover all expenses for cancer treatment but the NHS is doing everything so quickly that changing to private medicine would only delay things. It is reassuring to have that as a backstop, but right now I seem to be getting the best care I could have. And I even get free prescriptions now, which is handy given the amount of stuff I am getting prescribed at the moment.

The biggest downside, apart from the cancer obviously, is that most of this treatment is in Guildford which is bloody miles away and terrible to park at. Our first visit was only for a chat so we were able to go by motorbike, but since then I have been having treatments or scans that meant I couldn’t ride.

Right now I am recovering from the keyhole surgery, and have to feed myself through a tube sticking out of my belly because I can’t physically swallow enough – the the extent that I have lost more than a couple of stone in the last two or three months. I should be back in work next week but chemotherapy will start soon and that could knock me off my feet a bit. After nine weeks of that, I have a few weeks to get over it and get my strength up for the big operation to remove the tumour, along with a big chunk of oesphagus. That operation will take at least seven hours, so it not trivial, but the propects are good for it.

Apparently the cancer I have can only be cured in about 30% of cases, but I fall in that 30% so the combination of chemotherapy and operation should clear it all up. The success rate is good too; about 50% of people who have this operation are still alive after 5 years. That is actually a lot better than it sounds, for reasons I won’t go into, but which avid readers of Stephen Jay Gould will be familiar with.

One positive thing is that the hospital are trialling a new concept called ‘prehabilitation’ where they do all sorts of physiotherapy before the operation to make you stronger for it and improve recovery times afterwards. I think I was the first person that the physio had seen on this new scheme.

Obviously I am a bit pissed off by it all, but I don’t think I am depressed. I decided a while ago that I have already done more in my life that I ever expected to when growing up so don’t feel too bad about the prospect of dying, although that says more about the low expectations I had while growing up than anything else. Not that I am in any hurry to die. I am still hoping for another 15 years or so, and fully intend to get my full motorbike test passed next year, now that I have got the theory test out of the way.

One thing I do know; once this is all out of the way I intend to make the most of life. For a start I will get a big bike and enjoy riding it around, but I am also giving up the politics. I think I can do without the stress and time commitments that all the council stuff involves. It would have been nice to see the new Town Hall project through to completion, but there is no shortage of other people willing to do all that. And this time I mean it!


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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Jane

    Yep. With you on the ‘very unpleasant’ but you know we are all rooting for you. I’m sure you won’t be worried about the hair-loss side of chemo but if you are you can borrow my wig….

    Just be aware when we see you at Christmas there will be hugging….

  • Skuds

    The hospital gave me an 8-page printout listing all the potential side-effects for the particular combination of drugs I will be having, but they never mentioned hugging!

    The hair loss is the good part. It will save me shaving my head. But if I don’t like it I can always get out the biro and draw a Bobby Charlton on I suppose.