December 29, 2008

Long Term Update

So - here we are nearly at the end of 2008. It has certainly been a traumatic year for us with the good and the bad mixed together.

The good has been tempered throughout the year by the continued academic success of our three granddaughters with Joelle getting her straight "As" and joining older sister Carly in Leeds. Jaimie is continuing in Sixth Form College and has the makings of a really quirky photographer! I know she will make it in a very difficult sphere.

In June Nina and I celebrated our golden wedding, and although Nina did not want a party, Neil and Laura insisted and we had a celebratory lunch. This was held at the Theydon Bois village hall and we trust was enjoyed by one and all.

We had booked a special holiday for the occasion and left for our four week holiday which included a 23 day cruise to Alaska, Northern Japan, Vladivostok, Pusan, Southern Japan and China. The last three days of the holiday being spent in Beijing.

I had been suffering with a backache for a few weeks but thought that I was in sympathy with Nina who has had a bad back for quite some time. It was either that or sciatica that had plagued me a few years ago. I had discounted the fact that I had also been losing weight for about two months. Nina had wanted to cancel the holiday in order that I seek medical advice, but because of the significance of the trip, I refused. I would have recorded the entire trip on my blog but the internet link on the ship went down after two days and was lost for the rest of the cruise. We also lost all cell communication and were deprived of daily news. As this trip took us through September, perhaps we were better off not knowing what was going on in the world!!

On the flight to Vancouver the pain worsened and our first purchase in Ketchikan was a tub of 100 Tylenol tablets which I lived on for the duration of the trip. I did not let this affect the holiday and we both thoroughly enjoyed it but the flight home from Beijing was agony. We returned home on the 9 October and the next day I consulted our GP.

That consultation was just over ten weeks ago and I have gone through a whirlwind of emotions since. I have been diagnosed as having prostate cancer and a bone scan has revealed that there are a couple of "hot spots" on my pelvis and at the base of my spine. Six weeks ago I had the first of a monthly implant to counter the cancer and I will have regular blood tests to monitor the PSA and bone density to measure trends. To date I have begun to put on weight but the loss of over 20lbs and the wastage of muscle has left me unable to walk more than about 200 yards without having to have a rest. Beyond that I am feeling OK having gone through several bad depressions, or as Churchill called them, "Black Dog Days".

Nina has also started to take action with regard to her back and my first outing driving was to take her for her MRI scan. Five weeks without driving the car! I must say that in addition to being a wonderful wife for 50 years, she can now add to her CV, Nurse and Chauffeur.

The first time I heard the doctor utter the word "Cancer" of course my thoughts were in total confusion. No - this was not me. I can't possibly have cancer; I am relatively fit and that is a word that does not exist in my vocabulary. But it does; it is in every one's dictionary. It is only a word. Some people refer to it as the "Big C". There are other big "Cs" such as Contain, Curtail, Control and Cure. I have been given various mantras such as "This is a disease you will die with, not of" and "Cancer is a word; not a sentence". Personally I cannot help feeling that these are overdone and I need one of my own.

Although I have gone through several bouts of depression, I have not let these get the better of me. To think positively you need someone to motivate you. There are two without whom I could not have succeeded. Firstly of course there is my wife, Nina and the other is my consultant urologist who I will refer to as "John". Over the past 10 weeks or so they have both been very supportive and even when John had to give me news that was not what we wanted to hear, he managed to do so in a way that made me want to fight with even more determination.

We have been seeing John every two weeks and up until the last visit the news has not been that good. However at last he delivered the words "I think we have turned the corner". He followed this with the thought that without my positive attitude and Nina's encouragement perhaps it would not have happened. We will never know if this is the case, but it does not hurt to wipe out all of the negative thoughts.

We went home after this last consultation elated and happy at the news that John does not want to see me for another nine weeks. It was at this point that I though of my mantra: -

I won't let a bunch of mutant cells that have lost the plot ruin my life!


Posted by jeff at 11:56 AM | Comments (3)