20. May 2015 20:24
Time really does fly. I can’t believe it was the 8th May when I last blogged.
This lapse in time could be a good thing of course. It means life has been trundling along nicely, just letting life runs its course. This month has been lovely so far and I have been busy at home and with hospital appointments and so on. It’s all been pretty normal. I like normal.
Today I am having a day on the sofa recovering. We just got back from Germany after having treatment at Dr Nesselhuts clinic. It’s been six weeks since I went last, but it’s not as if I haven’t had something going on in between. Let’s not forget gamma knife surgery! How could I? The holes in my head are better but it’s still tender to lie on them and if I frown too hard my forehead hurts! Ha-ha!
We travelled on a very early flight and as usual didn’t get any sleep that night as we were too worried about not waking up in time!
Day one started with blood tests and an infusion of Nivolumab. I don’t get any side effects from it so that’s good.
Day two was slightly different than normal. This time I asked to have infusions of B17 and DMSO, just like I had had in Frankfurt at Dr Seibunhuners clinic. I had overheard someone the last time I was there having it. Now, I’ve been going to Nesselhuts for years and didn’t even know he offered it! I figured that based on the RGCC blood test I had done a year ago, that anything that the canSer in me didn’t like I should have. Get as much ammo as I can. But first I had about 250ml of blood taken for my next visit for DC therapy. I was told that my bloods were better this time so they could take the blood. Great news....
Then I had hyperthermia on my chest whilst having an infusion of B17 followed by an injection of DMSO in upper right buttock as well as a shot of Newcastle Disease Virus. Then about an hour later we met with Dr Nesselhut who gave me my vaccination in my left arm. It sounds a lot and it probably is.
When I left the clinic I took the print out of my blood test. I am a bit weird I like to keep them to see how well I am doing. This is when I noticed that my bloods weren’t as good as the nurse had told me. She had confused the dates and the ‘good’ results were in fact the last time I was there in April! My bloods this time were terrible. My haemoglobin has reduced to 8.6. The recommended amount is 12-16. Boo, double boo. I got straight onto email to my oncologist, Prof Harris who said it isn’t that low really for someone having treatment and not worry about it. He wants me to have it monitored to see if there is a trend but for now if I am feeling ok, just keep on trucking. Luckily I don’t feel massively out of breath or more tired than normal but I will try to get those bloods to improve! Pete is threatening with feeding me liver... No way Jose! Urgh.... It takes me back to being a kid, when Mum cooked liver and bacon for tea on Saturdays. I hated it then, I can’t see me liking it now!
For the first time in nearly three years we saw Dr Nesselhut on time. Brilliant! He had a lot to talk about as usual and we discussed the fact that things had been going well but I did have a few new tumours in my right lung. He got straight on the phone and spoke to his lab and told then they need to make changes to my vaccination. I reminded him about an email I had received from his clinic stating they were going to give me a tetanus jab at the same time as having my vaccination to spark an immune response. This wasn’t just the usual DC vaccine as Dr Nesslehut felt that after 5 months and slight progression he would look to stimulate my immune system in other ways – so he added KLH. This is Keyhole limpet hemocyanin. This is a metal carrying protein that has a variety of jobs, including carrying other proteins, enzymes and vaccines. In this instance the origin is the relevant bit. The KLH comes from the giant keyhole limpet (so a sort of sea snail), which is found in the northeast Pacific off the coast of California. It is “thought” to be non toxic and has already proven results in producing immune response in bladder canSer. A litre of blood from a keyhole limpet will produce 20 grams of protein, which can be worth as much as $100,000!!
As usual it stung and I had an immediate reaction of the skin becoming raised and red. This I believe is good. The thing is it hasn’t stopped there. It became quite a raised a lump and right now my arm is like an elephant’s leg!
Am I concerned? Not overly but it is really uncomfortable and itchy and so bloated that the skin feels tight and red. It has also travelled and grown and now my whole arm is distended. This isn’t the first time I have had such a reaction but this is the first time it has been so uncomfortable.
We discussed what should happen next. When should my next appointment be? He is meeting with the top guy from RGCC next week and they are talking about making personalised treatments and vaccines for patients, using antigen testing. They should then be able to tell me what fires the canSer inside me and then hopefully provide a personalised solution. Wow, this could be ground breaking.
So that’s how I have left it. We have no idea of when I am going back or how much something like that could cost. I await with baited breath. All I know is that I am booked in Nesselhuts diary to be discussed next week and then I should get an email.
We then left feeling satisfied and still in disbelief that we had been seen on time! This made us laugh as we now had seven hours till our flight, but that was ok as we could take our time getting to the airport.
We got to the airport with four hours to kill and ordinarily this wouldn’t matter but I was starting to feel the effects of my ever growing arm and now side effects such as fever and shivering.
To top it off, (Boys you might want to close your eyes right now) I then got my period! I haven’t had one for over five months mainly due to treatment affecting my body, so I am elated my body has returned to normal, but also timing couldn’t have been better! Argh!
Then came the fun part.... our flight was delayed until after midnight! Argh again! We laughed about it at first because on the way in the car I had said, ‘I bet our flight is delayed!’, because we were having such a good day with getting everything on time. God had been listening and Sod’s law came into play. It happened. We have never had a flight delayed at Hannover. Not the best day for flight delays. I progressively felt worse and when we eventually got on the airplane I was shaking, feeling hot but freezing cold. Boo!
Pete was getting ever more tired and had to drive us home when we got back to Blighty. He did such a great job and didn’t moan once. He was so tired and even got up really early this morning to go to work. He left me in bed and told me to stay there. Well, I did for a while but decided to transfer myself to the sofa and now I have been getting on with some jobs and organising myself for the next few days. Never fear... I will be hitting the sofa again straight after typing this.
I have to say I still feel rubbish. I don’t have shivers or fever thankfully. But my arm is driving me mental! It’s stiff and bloated and itchy and can you believe something so minor is causing me so much discomfort? For goodness sake I had a frame screwed to my skull a few weeks ago and I moaned less!
I said to Pete whilst sitting on the floor at the airport, ‘As things have been coming true today when I said them out loud, maybe the response in my arm and body is proof that the treatment is going to be exceptionally good this time. Maybe it’s going to send the canSer packing!’ I put it out there for the Universe and God and Sod’s Law to hear.... now make it come true!
Whilst away I was checking social media and heard the tragic news that a fellow triple negative lady had passed suddenly. Jojo Gingerhead, as she called herself, wrote a really funny blog and being only 32 years old was too young to be going through this horrible journey. I was so shocked and saddened at her death as only a few weeks earlier we had been chatting about treatments and how I could help advise her. At the time she was on chemo and wanted to sit that out before trying to raise funds to go to Germany. I had suggested TACE as a tolerable targeted treatment with immediate response, but it seems it was too late. She was already in a lot of pain and on morphine to ease that pain. Our love, thoughts and condolences go out to Jojo’s family and friends and we want them to know that she still inspires us to keep going and to find a cure.
Getting news like that does spook me. I don’t want to suffer in pain and I don’t want anyone else to either. People leave it too late to really stop the canSer and what we would really like is for every triple negative survivor to seek help and get treatment to prevent it returning or stop it in its tracks. Not to leave it too long when the body is weak and cannot fight it. This got us thinking.
If all triple negative ladies could read about my experiences and the treatments and experiences I have had personally, maybe they could take something away from it and they would live to tell the tale and be alive and kicking for many years to come. We are so close to a targeted treatment for triple negative breast cancer. No one will ever say cure, as they don’t believe it will happen but as Nesselhut always tells me, ‘All I want, is to keep you alive to have a good life’. As much as I want complete remission and feel sad when I have small setbacks, he is right. If I can continue for years to come without symptoms then I have cracked it.
This is why I have decided to update and upgrade my website. I have my hubby and friends (Bless you Adam) on board who are helping me have a logo redesigned and the website to be updated so that I can add all my new experiences and research to it day or night. Thanks to the hundreds of people who helped me with making a decision on the logo yesterday. It is so interesting hearing all your points of view. It really helps.
Once it’s complete and I have updated it I will let you all know! I am very excited. Even if I can help just one person before its too late then I’ve done something good.
I met with a friend recently (over afternoon tea, don’t you know, –said in a posh sounding voice!) who told me of a lady who lives in her area who also has triple negative breast cancer and is trying to raise money so that she can go to Germany and have treatments. This got me worried and excited all at once. I wanted to make sure she was going for the right kind of treatment and also not to one of the clinics with a ridiculous price and limited clinical experience, so felt the need to contact her. Her name is Louise and here is her website and blog: http://www.cancerispants.co.uk/
Actually her daughter, Ella started the web page for her and tells the family’s story. Please go and support her and if you can, help fund her on her way. I will be speaking with her tomorrow and hopefully helping her with more details for her trip. She seems lovely and I am excited at having a new friend.
Right, now me and my bloated arm are going to hit the sofa and whine and moan to myself all evening. Sometimes it’s good to wallow but not for long though! Back to it tomorrow. Onwards and upwards.... Light and Love all. Hugs. X
8. May 2015 14:11
I forgot to mention in yesterdays blog about the interview and discussion on the The One Show this week regarding GcMAF.
I was shocked as I was making dinner earlier this week when I heard a reporter discussing GcMAF on National TV. I would always hope there is a fair impartial view on such things but sadly in this case there was not.
She slated GcMAF by stating there is no scientific evidence that it works, that their lab has been shut down as some of the vials of GcMAF showed not to be suitable for human consumption.
Then she interviewed a support group who use GcMAF followed by the MD, David Noakes.
It is no secret that I am unsure about GcMAF in some ways mainly their manner in telling one that if you do not administer GcMAF in every single way that they recommend then one will not survive canSer.
I went to have a week’s treatment March last year. I didn’t find it hugely professional but on the other side I think it did help with hindering the growth of my current tumours. I came home and continued using it by injecting it as well as inhaling it for about three months. The reason for stopping was mainly due to starting immunotherapy with Prof Dalgliesh and also having radiofrequency ablation.
At that point I did decide to start using the Bravo probiotics which contains GcMAF, which I still use daily now. My main reason is to strengthen the immunity in my gut.
I felt saddened at the interviews. The interviewer wasn’t a scientist or a doctor but she was very aggressive towards everyone she spoke to. We all know there are two sides to every story.
There may not be scientific evidence that has been run by the UK government or NHS as yet, but there are scientific papers that the doctors who work with GcMAF have undertaken and published. They have also been present at many symposiums and they have grown dramatically, even since I went last year.
This doesn’t mean it is a ‘miracle cure’ that they profess it to be but as one lady in the support group mentioned, ‘When you have been told that you have terminal canSer then any option is better than none.
I didn't experience any side effects and felt fine throughout. My gripe with them was how unprofessional they were as company and I felt they were very flaky. The clinic I went to was a stately home and very odd. Others I met there were thrilled with the environment and the people running it. So each to their own.
I took an instant dislike to David Noakes who I first encountered on email. He was obnoxious and very unlikeable. I believed he didn’t want to help people, he wanted to make money. I then met him on my last day at the clinic when he was just as obnoxious and self centred.
Not only that, after I returned I emailed GcMAF (by the way, there was only one email address to contact them on and you never knew who would reply)as they had asked me to basically, write a testimonial, so I took the opportunity to give them an honest synopsis of my week and how I felt. Of course this didn’t go down very well and David Noakes replied telling me in a nutshell, that I had only done 20% of the treatment plan they recommended and that it was my fault if I failed.
I remember my late friend Leanne, who called them to get more information and she happened to speak to David Noakes who guaranteed her a 100% success if she used GcMAF. No one can say that?! This was my biggest problem with them, is that they let someone like him front the company and make spurious claims!
I think there is something good about GcMAF otherwise I wouldn’t have used it nor still use the probiotics. But I do feel very sad that it has been slated on national TV and they weren’t given a chance. However, maybe this is what they needed to shake them up and become more professional.
I have checked online and it seems the US did a clinical trial last year using GcMAF.
I have also checked GcMAF’s website and it is now not possible to purchase the product from them directly.
What are your thoughts and views on GcMAF?
7. May 2015 14:32
Mum has gone home this morning... We got so much done whilst she was here; sewing curtains and knitting blankets and gardening and more. Poor mum doesn’t get any rest whilst she is here! I hope she didn’t want one! It’s nice for her to be home I am sure but I always feel sad when she goes. We wish we lived closer to each other so we could see each other more.
So the all anticipated CT scan results finally came through yesterday by email. As predicted they were not ready on Tuesday at my clinic appointment with the Prof. That was disappointing as I sat there for over two hours. So I pursued my results by email and the Prof‘s secretary was hugely disappointed as she had asked the radiology department to have them ready for me. I am not surprised.
I got them yesterday and wanted Pete to read them first and decipher them in his way but the attachment on the email bore a hole in my head. I couldn’t wait nor help myself. I have to say I was disappointed with what I read.
I expected more reductions and even less tumours. And essentially the scan results are good but in my usual way I see the negative as a big setback.
Basically the positives are;
None of the tumours that were present in February have grown nor have they reduced. They are stable. This is great, essentially. The mediastinal lymph nodes are still subcentimetre. There is no mention of the hilar node- so maybe that isn’t there? Great!
There are no new ones in my abdomen or liver and no mention of that one that was there in my ovaries. So that has gone too and stayed gone since February.
The spine still has the stable predominantly sclerotic vertebral lesions. No change there then.
There is a cluster if several new progressive right upper lobe coalescent peribronchialor nodules that lie inferior to the largest tumour in my right lung. I am not sure how many several are and if that means cancerous but I am guessing it is.
This really got me peeved. I was so happy with my brain being so successful and really hoped my body would emulate it. I can’t help but feel disappointed. It’s like whatever I am doing is never quite enough. I am never doing more than enough; I am only doing just enough to get by.
I have sent the results to Dr Nesselhut so he can plan my next treatment whether it is still continuing with nivolumab or not. He is away until Monday so I have to wait until then.
In the meantime I have been messaging the Prof and asking some questions but his secretary is off until Monday also. I have running through my mind how I feel and as time passes and I settle I become more rational but I felt grumpy and upset initially. Enough isn’t enough for me. I want more. I guess that good as it keeps me fighting but it also messes with my head. I sit thinking what have I done differently? What could I do differently?
Pete thought the results were great and said I have focussed so much on fixing the brain that now it’s time to focus on the body. Maybe I have but I really believed I had nailed it especially as I feel so good lately, (although ever since gamma knife I am feeling a little more tired than normal.)
If I look at my previous scans from last October onwards, I have done so well. I have reduced and resolved tumours. I mean come on.... but I need it to continue in the right direction. I guess I just want some leeway, some respite from having to be so intense and I so wanted to be able to have treatment less and less. This was assuming that nivolumab was the answer. I now feel that I may need to go and have TACE again. I will discuss it once I have spoken to Nesselhut.
My bloods are also low again; haemoglobin, blood count and red blood cells etc. I don’t know why and I certainly don’t feel light headed. Maybe it’s because of the gamma knife. I will increase my iron intake with foods like beans, pulses, spinach etc, but Prof has told me in the past its nothing that diet can change. No harm in trying.
My head has been changing daily since the gamma knife procedure. I have had tingling and numbness and now my temple is very tender on the right. The entry wounds are healing brilliantly but I do feel ultra sensitive when I lay down. It doesn’t help that I keep banging my head. I always was a clumsy person! I have felt nauseas and been sick a few times but I think that could be anxiety at times.
The C Word:
I watched the programme Monday night with my mum and Pete. I wasn’t looking forward to it but know that Sheridan Smith is an amazing actress and would do a great job of it. I have the book already but have never read it. I have to say it was very powerful but I felt quite angry throughout it. I felt they focussed so much on hair loss and looks. I know this is so important for many women but they didn’t really go down the secondary cancer route. I felt frustrated that many people will still believe it’s all over once it spreads but I hope to show everyone that I can beat it or at least stay alive until they find that treatment that will keep it stable for many years. I haven’t done too badly so far as its now approaching three years of having secondary triple negative breast cancer. It was hugely emotional and I felt unsettled after as I so don’t want to be a statistic and be another young woman dying of breast cancer.
News of Rio Ferdinand’s wife dying has also been hard to stomach this week and all it does is make me worry, I think. I know how fragile life is anyway but I hope things don’t turn for the worse. I feel so sad for Rio and his family and it feels like every where I look some young amazing woman is being taken from her family. (Watching the Restoration Man last night also had another young mum die of cancer) I can’t be ignorant and pretend it doesn’t happen but it makes it so hard to think am I going to be next? Or how long do I have?
I don’t think any of that has been helped when I went for a smear test yesterday (close your eyes boys, you might not like reading these intimate details!) Ouch, ouch, ouch!!!!! That’s exactly what I said to the nurse. It bloody hurt like hell this time round. I’m being a pansy after last week’s procedure but OUCH!
I spoke to a doctor at the Care Oncology Clinic earlier today and told him my results. He said that I should feel really positive and sometimes things like the new nodules could just be inflammation and not to read too much into them. He has re ordered Mebendazole for me and I will see them soon to discuss the drugs they put me on back on October; Metformin, Mebendazole and Atorvastatin.
Now I have put all this down on ‘paper’ I feel better. I feel a bit silly that I am moaning when I have got it so good and actually things are great for me. I just want them to BETTER! I want Pete to have some respite too. This is so hard on him every month. The cost, the upheaval, the decision making on what we should do next. I wish the bloody NHS would make nivolumab and ipilimumab accessible to the masses. Hurry up research! I ‘m being a spoilt brat now, but I want to think about something else.
It doesn’t stop Pete and me from having fun and loving each other though and that’s what we have to do. All there is... is LOVE.
I’m off for some iron rich food and to try and dodge the rain whilst hanging out washing. It’s the simple things that keep me going.
Light and Love.
30. April 2015 14:30
How do I start?
Tuesday I went to St Barts and was given the low down on the gamma knife treatment that I was having the following day, Wednesday. I was given in full details of what to expect. I think it is to ensure you prepare for the worst. All it did for me was make me cry and want to run for the hills!
The extremes of how bad things were going to feel, such as injections, the head frame and so on. Seeing the machine and where my head would be screwed to the bed did nothing but fill me with fear. Fear of what? They weren’t going to hurt me.. Well this is typical ‘me’. Fear of not being able to move for up to two hours! Argh!
I did my usual of coming home and off loading onto Pete and spent the whole evening in bits. We were going to be getting up at 4am because they wanted to start treatment at hospital at 7.30am. Ok we don’t live that far away but if we aren’t sleeping and we are worried about getting there on time then it’s best just to get on with it. Well we both woke up at about 2am... standard worrying time.
Pete had prepared a bag of things I would need for the day plus some food and drink and a sick bag in the car... I am not sure if he thought I would need it for the journey home because the aftercare advice mentioned nausea and vomiting. Well it didn’t get used on the way home. It got used on the way there. So much anxiety meant that last night’s dinner came up (weird that it hadn’t digested after ten hours but that’s another discussion) I was fine after I had relieved myself of all the wretching.
On arriving at St Barts we met the lovely clinical nurse Liz, who had been taking care of me from the start. I think in a very clever tactic they got me straight in at 7.30am. I was first, between me and one other lady. I walked into a room with five other people all waiting for me and a chair. Gulp. I sat down and was introduced. I have no idea of their names... I was too busy having a quiet nervous breakdown. One lady put the head frame on my head and stood and held it there whilst a doctor went round and gave me four injections of local anaesthetic of where the ‘pins’ were going to enter my head to keep the frame still and secure.
I was warned the injections would feel like bee stings. Yes they hurt but only for a few seconds. I didn’t expect them to bleed but I was being dabbed all the while. Then came the screw drivers! Yes screw drivers.. Pins, my foot.. They screwed the head frame on and what I felt was pressure as they got tighter. Liz, the nurse held my hand and stroked me the whole time. Apparently that was the worst bit over I was asked continually if I was ok. I think it was because I physically shaking and my jaw was chattering. Not a good look. ..Then they took me straight in for the MRI scan to get really clear images so that they could plan the gamma knife treatment. I was given 3 batches of contrast dye. This is so they could see absolutely everything, so if there was any other tumour trying to make its way they would notice it. Luckily, they advised me there was only one tiny tumour in the left frontal lobe. No extra surprises... that’s what I like.
I hate MRI’s at the best of times but this time I had a head frame on as well some plastic attachments. It was only for twenty minutes and all I kept thinking is this is going to be a doddle compared to the gamma knife. Never will MRI’s be scary. So that’s one positive so far.
So far so good. Of the things I had been advised already I had completed two of the major events and all was fine and dandy. I didn’t experience any pain in my head from the frame as I was well and truly numbed.
Then we were transferred to the gamma knife centre where I sat for about four hours waiting for Dr Plowman to come down and see the plan his staff had worked out for me. That was ok as I had Pete with me and I was given plenty of tea and yummy snacks. Time flies by really when you are in a daze and everything seems so surreal. Having so much adrenalin running around the body and also feeling so tired from lack of sleep can also make one feel bizarre.
Eventually I saw the jolly doctor who I really like, mainly because he calls me, ‘young lady’. Haha.
Pete spent the day cracking jokes.. I am not sure if the staff found them funny or if they heard them all before but I thought it was hilarious. He didn’t think Liz the nurse liked him because when I was taken into the MRI room when I was having the contrast injected he stood outside the door taking my photo and doing little dances and smiling. She told him to sit down a number of times. Haha. Then he accidentally started playing rap music in the waiting area! Haha... Oh I am laughing right now.
Here’s a few jokes to wet your whistle;
‘She’s not in the right ‘frame’ of mind’
‘She won’t be bolting anywhere!’
Once the doc left I was taken into the gamma knife room and laid on the table where they screwed my head to it so I really couldn’t move. They said I was allowed to scratch my face and cough but to be really careful because if I touched the machine it would take several hours for it to be corrected and ready to use. Great. Being told stuff like that just makes it worse! I was not going to cough or scratch my face no matter what! The good thing about the gamma knife machine is that it is larger than the MRI. It isn’t right in your face so I felt less claustrophic and they don’t put you in it very far either. Luckily for me also the treatment time was reduced to about 45 minutes as Ii only had the one tumour and it was easy to get to. I was delighted with this news. They also asked me if I wanted to play my own CD. I listened to chilled out Ibiza tunes and worked out how long each track should be so kind of knew when I was going to be finished. It totally chilled me out and I actually dozed off for a short while. That part of the treatment was the easiest. I didn’t feel a thing. I didn’t get stiff or achy luckily and I was so happy that it was all over. As soon as they got me up they removed the head frame. This was really weird. The screw drivers came out again and the noise as they undid them was horrendous! Little oozing holes dripped, which is to be expected and it felt really odd as the pressure increased not decreased as they released the frame.
This is when the pain starts. I rested for a few hours and they gave me pain relief, whilst the head sorted itself out.
I was discharged not long after having lunch and then came home with my Bear. My head is sore where the entry wounds are and I have been advised not to get my head wet for a few days. I have two little plasters on my forehead( which makes me think I have little horns growing!) and they left the ones at the back of my head open. They are all oozing ‘stuff’ and blood. The back one has bled the most and it’s a tad uncomfortable to sleep on them.
I have been warned I could get black eyes and may have tingly from nerve damage on the head along with a whole host of other side effects that radiation can cause. Anything goes really. For now I am trying not to express myself too much as raising my eyebrows really hurts! Haha! I’m expressionless....
I am so proud of myself. I didn’t cry once whilst there. I wanted to run away that morning but I am so pleased it was no way near as bad as the nurse had prepared me for. It must be hard giving advice to patients when you have never felt it yourself.
Apart from the dramas in the beginning this whole experience has been amazing. From what I can gather not many people get it done on the NHS. I am thrilled to have had it done and they have advised me that if I get any more tumours I can have it done over and over again unlike whole brain radiotherapy. They seem to think metastases go completely when having gamma knife. Other kinds of tumours can return.
I reckon this brain has got it sorted, but what a thrill to have met such lovely staff. (Pete was chuffed to bits to meet an actual bonafide neurosurgeon yesterday- he was doing my treatment for me!)
Mum messaged me the night before and told me I am a ‘brave little soldier’.... I believe I was.
Today I am under strict instructions from Pete not to do anything and just relax, because even though I can’t see any wounds or scars it doesn’t mean I am not healing after having had surgery. I have tried but I feel pretty good apart from a bit of a sore head. I have been out for a short walk, done the hoovering, and floor steaming, a bit of washing, hanging it on the line and written this.. Oh and have been having a little window shop online too. Ooops. I’ll lay of the exercise for today and do a bit of reading and knitting...
I cannot believe the support I have received from my friends, family and followers. Thank you so much, it really helps. I even received some beautiful flowers by post this morning... I am being spoiled.
Light and Love. X
27. April 2015 17:10
I had a call on Friday afternoon from Nichola at the Gamma Knife centre. She explained in huge detail what had happened at the MDT last Monday. She described how they saw my images and all of the doctors present were ‘astonished’ at my results. Only two months earlier there were four lesions present but now there is only one tiny one present in the frontal lobe, which qualified me for gamma knife treatment. She said most of the doctors, all except Dr Plowman, were not ‘fans’ of whole brain radiotherapy. Apparently it takes up to six months for whole brain radiotherapy to really have full effect. Nichola said she could understand that must be very frustrating. Anyway they would like to do the gamma knife treatment this Wednesday! Argh! Sometimes it is a case of be careful of what you wish for, because as much as I know this is really important and I want nothing more than to be free of brain tumours, the fear of having the treatment is daunting. As usual I am probably over thinking it, but knowing I have to have a head brace that punctures my skin in my head to be fixed in place fills me with horror. I do have local anaesthetic before they fit the head brace. Then there is of course the MRI machine and being strapped in the there with a head brace for about half hour or more. Gulp... I’m being a pansy. I know it will be fine.
Tomorrow I have to attend a pre assessment appointment when I can ask any questions and get the ‘heads up’ on all the info before my procedure on Wednesday. It’s an early start on Wednesday. We leave home for around 5am and start having the treatment at 7am. So it’s a busy week ahead as I also have a CT scan booked on Friday at my usual hospital. Then next week if radiology are kind to me, I will get my scan results at my clinic appointment.
This weekend passed in a flash and Pete and I had such a busy jam packed time. Doing what? Gardening and house chores. Sounds grim? Not for us. I love the feeling of achieving something and our courtyard is beginning to look a little bit Tuscan. That’s our aim...We just need the weather to match!
22. April 2015 16:05
Monday morning I had a call from Liz the CNS at St Barts. She said that they had checked out my images and that they can confirm there is a small tumour that requires blasting. She then paused.... I told her I wasn’t surprised because I saw Doc Plowman on Friday and he suspected something but couldn’t be sure. She said the date I was pencilled in for, Friday 27th, for gamma knife now couldn’t be done because the doc had other arrangements. Fine. She said that someone would be in touch in a few days to give me a new date.
I told her of dates I wasn’t available later in May but she said she believes they will want to do the procedure earlier than that. Right... all systems go. So far I haven’t heard anything so i will wait until Friday and then email Liz to get her to chase it.
I am obviously pleased that I am going to get the treatment necessary and that it will finally be gone but I am of course disappointed that there is one there and that I have to go through the treatment. The whole thought of having my head clamped with some sort of frame and them having to inject anaesthetic into my head doesn’t fill me with joy. But it is a day treatment and I should be able to go home that day and be absolutely fine. I hope.
I have been loving the warm sunny weather a little too much. I don’t want to make everyone, especially Pete, feel bad, that when he is at work I am basking in the sun. I have done some chores in the garden but I have really enjoyed lying in the heat of the sun. It’s so warm and yummy. It’s so sad though that the forecast always changes at the weekend when Pete has time to get out there but can’t. It’s sod’s law.
What else is happening?
I have got a CT scan booked in a few weeks and then I hope to get the results quickly so that I can let Nesselhut know of my status so he can decide what to treat me with next.
Pete spotted lots of info on rosehip extract recently for triple negative breast cancer. On reading the research it does look promising and can’t do any harm in taking so I have ordered some. It is doubly helpful because it is meant to be great for bones and joints. That could help my ribs and back and also Pete could take it for his joints too.
With the nights getting longer it really makes me want to do more. The problem is I get so tired at night! I put it down to exercising quite hard in the mornings and also lazing around! Ha ha!
Over the last month or so I have been helping Pete make some lifestyle changes to feel healthier. It’s really motivating to me and so great to be able to help him. So far he has lost 16lbs in weight and seems to sleep better and is much brighter. Our bodies are our temples... it’s just we forget this. Even I do.
So I’m off to the garden for the last few rays. It’s windy and clouding over, maybe this is the last of it?! Argh!
17. April 2015 16:20
Fridays are always such a happy day; the weekend to come and feelings of,’ Yes I’ve got through another week!’ Today however has been even more off a ‘fist punch’ day.
Last night, feeling overly tired we headed to bed early. I didn’t think Ii was nervous or bothered about heading down to the hospital today but clearly I was, as I barely slept, not helped by our naughty cat who keeps meowing at our bedroom window to be let in when she has a cat flap down stairs! Anyway, I got up early despite my appointment not being until 11am in London. I couldn’t hang around and didn’t want to be late so just got myself down there as quick as I could.
Anxiety and feelings of fear got worse as I approached St Bart’s and I started to feel like I was going to throw up. Not great when you are wandering around Smithfield’s. With so much time to kill I headed past all the cafes and salivated at the thought of croissants and crumpets (yes crumpets! I love them, they remind me of my childhood...) but as I walked I thought I cannot avoid going to Beppe’s cafe again. It’s rough and ready like a proper ‘greasy spoon’ cafe. I didn’t think I really fancied that this morning but I felt the magnetic pull of the place. I decided that if there was a table free then I would go in. As I peered through the window someone was just leaving... Right, that was it. As I walked in the lovely chap there was enthusiastically friendly and familiar. Such a nice guy. I’m pleased I went in there now.
By 9am I decided that I would get checked in at the clinic and sit it out. And that I did. Whilst there, a slight lady sat next to me and started talking and telling me about herself. She spoke so softly it was hard to hear everything she was saying. She was so upset, she cried during her story telling. I tried to ask the right questions and wanted to know if she had support, but it seemed she didn’t have anyone. I asked if she could go on forums or visit someone like Macmillan or Maggie’s centres. No. So I just listened. She was very sweet and said how beautiful I was, still. Still?
I popped to the toilet and when I returned she had moved seats. Had I said something? I am so lucky, I thought to myself. I have such a support network and Pete; my rock, couldn’t give me more love than he does.
Anyway moving on, I was seen before my appointment time which was a bonus. Dr Plowman was his jovial self. I really like him. He read my folder and I filled him in on the details of my MRI on Monday etc. He tapped on the keyboard and clicked on tabs and located some of my MRI images. There was no report ready as yet. We looked at the images of my brain together. He said it was a good looking brain and everything looked really good. I asked what a brain tumour would look like and he said an asymmetric dot. He was quite thorough and said that he thought there may be something small on the front at the right but he wasn’t sure. He showed me another image which had reverberations on it. He said that was where I had moved during the scan. I explained how nervous I get and I am slightly claustrophobic. He laughed and said that the image had rings running through my head and that I wasn’t a tree, you couldn’t tell my age from it! Ha-ha....
Dr Plowman then dictated a letter and emailed a colleague which said that I was to get a report of my scan done and that they were to discuss me at the MDT on Monday. They are to consider doing gamma knife or cyber knife on that one lesion, if it is a lesion. He apologised profusely and said that he was so sorry that I have been messed around so much and that nothing seems ready when I arrive. He said, ‘Feel free to hassle my secretary, Emma, as I’m a stupid old man.’ No fear there. I will be on the case....
So I practically skipped out and rang Pete and told him the news that the five tumours are now, none or maybe only one! He won’t mind me saying, but he shed a few tears. What a relief. I will be even happier when I know the next bit but for now this is great! I feel such a sense of achievement and will keep going. Now I just need to know the body is following suit.
Today is ‘Good’ Friday... Not the Easter kind but the ‘Got everything to live for’ kind.... I feel like celebrating just a little bit! I love my friends and I love my family and I love all of you out there. Today, we celebrate small things because before you know it they are the BIG things!
Light and love everyone! XX
15. April 2015 16:40
Isn’t it beautiful weather! I have been under strict instructions from the Bear that I am to sit in it and get my vitamin D boost. No arguing there. Today is glorious. He rang me on his way to work after going to the gym and suggested I do my ‘rituals’ outside today. So up I hopped and got my meditation mat, then did some yoga stretches followed by a kettle bell routine from YouTube. (Don’t I have the best husband in the world?) I am now full refreshed and soaking up the rays. It feels a bit weird though because there are other things I could be getting on with but i figured they will still be there tomorrow.
I have been a little bit productive though; sourcing builders, booking them in and so on. Since my treatment room is currently out of service it gives me the opportunity to get it sorted in there. I have been putting it off for ages.
Monday morning I was up with Pete. Now let me tell you, I hate getting up early! It was cold and dark but I got on a train London bound for an MRI scan of my brain at St Barts. As usual I was super early (Not one for being late if I can help it), however it was lucky I got there early seeing as the underground trains were all severely affected by a signalling failure at Edgware Road. I stopped for breakfast at Beppe’s Cafe ordering my usual green tea; he said in true Londoner style, ‘Your Barnet is growing back nicely!’ This tickled me pink. He asked how long it was since I saw him last and I said about a month. He remarked on how quick my hair was growing. Bless him. I had no idea he would remember me. That put a smile on my face.
As I was early there I thought I may as well check in for the scan. You never know they might see me early. Well I was seen early for the cannula to be put in then waited for about another hour before my MRI.
I was pleasantly pleased that I couldn’t hear a thing whilst having the scan and I thought I dealt with it quite well. I have no idea why I am claustrophic of that machine! Once done I hopped up and was back home in a few hours. No drama.
Whilst lazing around I have had a chance to think and I have been thinking about getting fitter and stronger. I have decided that getting fitter and stronger is a must, plus it also helps with the way I look and being a woman that feeling will always be there. I also want to do lots of drawing and more knitting. Having finished my second baby blanket, this time all alone, I want to do more! Back to the knitting shop i go for more colours of wool to choose from.
I have also been thinking about working a lot recently and having lots of new enquiries. I am such a lucky girl and I know this, and feel grateful every day that I don’t have to work presently, BUT, I don’t think I want to return to work either?! Is this terrible of me? I do feel guilty when Pete is working his toosh off and having such demands and stresses, but I really want to enjoy being at home when I am here and work hard at feeling good about myself inside and out. It’s mad to think that it is April already and that in only two months I will be forty. I plan on enjoying this summer.
I have been emailing with the secretaries at my hospital today. I am trying to organise a CT scan for the week after next as Dr Nesselhut wants to know what is happening before he does the next lot of treatment. I thought it was already being booked as I had asked in March. Anyway hopefully Ii will get the appointment I need in time for my next visit to Duderstadt. I have also just found out they are offering artemesinin, B17 and DMSO. They have confirmed it. This could be something I will add on if they say it is fine to do so.
Apart from that everything has been great. I haven’t experienced any more headaches or visuals or anything since I had that migraine last week. I think Pete was right when he said that it was probably one of the tumours being attacked after having nivolumab. I blinking well hope so! All I know is that i feel great. I am back down to St Barts Friday morning. I am assuming they will have results for me and then I know what happens next.
For me right now, I am longing to have a cuddle in the sun with my Bear and I hope he gets home earlier today. As its April the sun isn’t’ high enough in the sky yet and we lose the sunshine before Pete can get his dose of vitamin D.
10. April 2015 16:02
Our journey back to the UK was as expected, fractious. I always knew it was going to be hard. It always is when you are up against time. I thought I had given us plenty of time to get to the Eurotunnel but sadly there was a glitch at the clinic.
As we were leaving and preparing dates for our next visit they informed me I would need more blood taking. More blood?! I only had that done on my last visit and they were clear when they said I didn’t need to have that done this time. Of course I let slip.... I trusted them. Now I am not complaining but this is a lesson for everyone. You have to be on top of things and constantly asking. Pete asked them why they hadn’t taken it during my appointments this time. The lady said she didn’t know. Pete asked who was responsible for it. She said she didn't know. Right.....
I nearly burst a blood vessel in panic and frustration but luckily they agreed to take my blood before I left. The problem was they had delayed us for almost an hour and then made me wait a further 45 minutes. So that meant we left two hours later than expected to get home.
We desperately wanted to get past the tricky rush traffic in Central Germany. Oh we wish...
We got stuck and some. Then we were in every traffic queue going, due to accidents. But Pete ploughed on and got us to Calais about two hours before our booked train. I always book with time to spare and normally we hop on an earlier train, as you can do in normal circumstances but not this time! They made us wait until 22.50pm! Then I looked at the board and they had shunted us back to an even later train! I had a little spat with the train staff and they got us back on the earlier original train. Apparently because of holidays it was much busier than normal. Well maybe getting there later than expected was actually a god send. If we had got there four hours earlier we may have had to wait until 22.50pm! Hmmmm.. Every cloud and all that.
Once we got back into Blighty we had a good two to three hour drive home. You would think that at that time of night it should be fine but there was so many road works, traffic jams and crazy drivers! I was so pleased to get home and slip into our own bed. In total we were driving for 11 hours.
So treatment went well, apart from their lack of organisation for future visits. This is my advice to anyone in this situation. Keep in control. No one else will do it for you and the staff really do not consider your location, costs or time.
Since we got back I have been catching up washing and enjoying being home again. I have felt reasonably well all except a throbbing in my head. I am sure all canSer survivors feel fear when they have new ‘things’ going on inside of them. For a while I had a blind spot getting in the way of my vision. I was worried but stuck it out and now it has gone. Well this throbbing in my head has worried me. It’s something I have never felt before. Pete pointed out it only came on when I had my treatment and it could be a good sign. I agree, it is likely to be nothing. I hope.
So I went to bed with an open mind and just thought to keep an eye on it. I had no trouble sleeping and the throbbing went away during my slumber. It returned but less than yesterday. I thought this is good... But then I got visuals and have had a migraine this afternoon. I used to get migraines a lot previous to being diagnosed with brain tumours but this does worry me.
I awoke in the night and had a feeling of extreme panic, a rushing of adrenalin and blood. What if things had progressed dramatically? What if I was having an aneurism?! I am not dramatic at all, am I? But you know living like this is hard. All the years I used to have niggles and ignored them and they went away. This disease has made me paranoid! The thought of gremlins in my head, does my head in!
When the symptoms completely passed and when I stopped taking steroids and there were still no symptoms I felt great. When my results showed that the tumours were tiny I just hoped that they would continue to get smaller. And then these annoying things start happening.... Oh well, I have an MRI scan booked for Monday. I guess it’s come at good time.
I had a knock at the door yesterday. It was another bunch of flowers sent by Pete, as he knows I may be down on my first day without him. Bless. They are lovely. I’m a lucky girl.
The weekend is here and there is plenty to do and to enjoy. X
7. April 2015 14:48
Tempers flare and frustration sets in when we should be able to get onto trials and "experimental" or non-accepted drugs in the UK that we are otherwise "allowed" to pay for and receive. That's what's happened to Pete right now. Probably at the end of his tether having to spend over a week with me and not being able to give his business his undivided attention too. Anyone that knows him, knows how 'passionate' he can get. I don't blame him but it can be upsetting to see him feeling like that.
We left home over a week ago for treatment but also to spend time together over the Easter break. To have some special time and to make treatment trips more fun and memorable. That’s what he does. He tries so hard to make things good, fun, loving and most of all special. He spends all his time thinking of others, putting their needs first. The thing is, things never really go to plan.
We travelled through France to Switzerland and then arrived in Austria. Pete had worked out that we could slip in a ski break between appointments, he had meticulously planned everything. This time of year you hope/expect to have sunshine and those gorgeous blue sky days skiing. Our thoughts were, ‘Will there be any snow left?’ That would be sad if there wasn't. Hahahahahaha. How funny that thought is now. We arrived and a storm set in. The resort had over four metres of snow in a few days! It was so bad some days we actually couldn't ski and when the sun finally did come out they decided not to let us up the mountain for fear of avalanches!
How frustrating and disappointing life can be at times, more so for someone like my Pete. He just wants everything to be perfect. He just wants people, and especially me to be happy. (I am by the way, no matter what he does.)We then had a 7 hour trip (stopover in Munich) and are now in Germany and I am having treatment. The weather is better now, but it snowed all the way here. We hope that it stays dry for our long drive home to ‘The Shire’ tomorrow afternoon (11 hours). I don't hold out much hope though....
Pete's frustration this morning is due to the screwed up medical society. Where to start. The waste of money on treatments that are proven not to work, the administrational shambles, the obvious control of the Pharma, it goes on and on and people are dying. We are not talking about gastric bands and boob adjustments. Pete was in tears over an Alzheimer sufferer this morning, diabetes, heart disease and of course cancer - these are challenges that we are facing at the speed of a striking sea slug and still people are dying.
We have been talking over new developments such as targeted DC therapy, Nivolumab and Ipilimumab and its so frustrating when researching to find they have been trialling these drugs and treatments for nearly four years. The sticking point of them is the cost NOT the efficacy.
Isn't is sick that we live in a world where they hold cancer patients (and other terminally ill) to ransom? I'm being told once again that I may not be able to get onto a trial because my recent scans show that I have had improvement on the treatments that I have had. So because I paid for TACE, saving the NHS around £100,000.00 in treatment costs and it has been working, they could decline me from getting on their trial. BUT I CAN HAVE IT IF I PAY FOR IT! This to me makes no sense.
I have been having treatment abroad, paying for it, and because that shows it is working, they would turn me down on an NHS trial in the UK. It's so short sighted. Can't they see if the trial works on me, with the other treatments I have been paying for, then I am not only helping myself but helping the Company (In this case Bristol Squibb Meyers) and other patients get a treatment that could be the cure, the answer, or at the very least the treatment that will be a winner for most?!
No point on dwelling on it... but so corrupt, mismanaged and such hindrance in progressing for a cure. This just reminds me how hard all of this is on our loved ones, our nearest and dearest. I'm so lucky to have someone who cares so much, but no one really realises how hard it is for them.
Pete has devoted his life to me, his family and friends and his business, with all the responsibility that brings. When he is there, he works such long hours and never mentions his home life or troubles, he says his job is to be "positive". That's what people see.
What they don't see are the sleepless nights, the worry, the guilt at not being there whilst taking me, his sick wife, for treatment once again. Social media is amazing but it does only show the good times. People have even said to Pete "have a nice holiday" and think we are living it up abroad. He just smiles and nods and continues to post himself smiling in 'happy times' photos.
But money doesn't grow on trees. Pete has to be an innovator, motivator and different in outlook, always thinking of ways to grow and differentiate the business, but most of all ensuring that it doesn't fail. He has many staff to care for and they have their lives. It's a constant juggling act.
But we still try to maintain a normal life. As normal as it can be. We both long to be at home. To have routine. To be part of things we have built up for years. We don't want things to slip through our fingers after all the hard work we have put into it. It's hard keeping abreast of everything and heartbreaking when things don't go to plan.
If I could say one thing to my younger self or close friends and of course you as you are reading this, it would be - Never take your lives for granted.
Being at home can be monotonous but there is nothing like home when you are forced to be away so much. Right now I'm sat waiting for treatment. I have no idea if it's working, but I do know it takes a lot of time, money and effort for me to even be here. This is something I'm eternally grateful for and I will never take for granted either.
When you are bored, tired and wish your life was more exciting... think of all the survivors out there and 'put the shoe on the other foot'. I only hope everyone has at least one 'Pete' (my Bear) in their life. It would make your life better in every way.... My kuschelige Eheman.
P.S. Pete and I have laughed so much on this trip. It’s not all doom and gloom as I always say…
Light and Love