Archive | March, 2009

Easter surgery

24 Mar

So I saw the specialist just over a week ago, and surgery is confirmed for the morning of Wednesday, 15th April at Basingstoke District Hospital. The operation will be a “wedge resection”, which is essentially removing a wedge of liver from one lobe, to take out the largest and only 100% confirmed lesion. The operation won’t be keyhole, but this will give the surgeon a chance to examine the other two “blurry” points of my scans to confirm if they are tumours or simply scar tissue, hopefully for the first time giving us a clear picture of just what we are dealing with in the liver. And, of course, hopefully removing all last traces of the cancer from my body.

I expect to be in hospital for around 6 days, and then will be resting up at my parents house for a couple of weeks following. Full recovery is expected around 6 weeks after the operation, so I imagine I will be returning to Chemo (and work !) at the start of June for 6 more weeks (Chemo, that is – hopefully work will carry on quite a bit longer than that, despite the current economic climate). Hospital is a bit of a trek from London, so I imagine visitors might only come at the weekend. If you let myself know in advance, that I can send travel information about how to get there. Otherwise contact Mimi when I’m in hospital, just so we don’t get too many people trying to come at a one time.

So that’s the facts. Emotionally I’m obviously a little scared, but reassured by the surgeon who seems highly competent and comes recommended as one of the countries finest liver surgeons. Also reassured by the fact it all happens whilst I’m unconscious too ! It’s just tough putting your life totally in other peoples’ hands, elevating them temporarily to the status of gods. I’m such a control freak, so I guess there is quite a clash there too. So focusing on the good aspects of it all – a clear(er) liver, being looked after by Mimi and my parents and one more step to the end of all my treatment. Also focusing, as always, on the small practicalities – such as at which point I stop being paid full salary from work (quite soon !) and budgeting accordingly (not hard, won’t be going out too much !) – more cheap nights in are needed ! Board gaming anyone 😉

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A knife in the road

4 Mar

The sixth cycle comes to an end. My spots are flaring up again – but they come and go, so hopefully will not be too painful for too long. Two more cycles to go now, next one should be starting this Monday. But it’s not.

Mimi and I took a couple of days out in the country, staying in the Cotswolds. This was a much needed break, one we would of perhaps liked to have lasted a little longer, but we need to save holiday so we might have a trip to Australia this year. This was to get away from it all, but instead acted as a nice place to receive the next change of my treatment plan.

The only reliable thing in cancer treatment is “don’t plan on what you know, as it’s probably going to change by next month”. And here we have quite a big change of direction. The second surgeon I have sent my scans to has recommended surgery. I have not had a proper consultation with him – that is scheduled for the end of next week – but his recommendation for surgery is definite enough that he has proposed I don’t have the chemo on Monday, so that the one drug-free month can start that much sooner.

All I know is he thinks that operation would be quite small, and with that in mind it would be worth going ahead with some surgery now. This tallies with the “conventional wisdom” around secondary cancers; cut them out and apply chemo to ensure everything is caught. And so it’s the path I think I am best taking at this stage, certainly until I have had a chance for a proper consultation to discuss why he thinks surgery is best, compared to the initial descision made by the other liver surgeon.

At the end of the day, with little hard medical fact backing up either approach, I get the feeling the descision between the options presented is being left to me. This is, of course, somewhat absurd – 9 months ago all I knew about cancer was it affected old people and smokers and not 31 year-old males (yes, yes, 32 years old now). And whilst I have learnt a lot since then, it’s still a bad idea for me to be making this decision. I understand the final call is still with me, I’m not completely impotant in this decision making process, but on a choice like this I really need to hear how these options have been reached and how each recommendation is backed.

Fortunaltey, I am seeing my Oncologist tomorrow and the new surgeon next Friday, so plenty of chances to ask questions and get a gauge of confidence on the whole decision. If this surgery goes ahead, I suspect it will most likely happen at the start of April and be based in Basingstoke hospital (yes, yes, I know, bloody miles away). Confirmation of everything coming in a week or two. Until then, I’m just trying to manage these darn spots on my head.