Thursday, 19 July 2018

Seven years and counting ......

Tonight I will raise a glass of red wine and drink to the health and long life of the main who ultimately saved my life by embarking on the surgery to remove two lobes of my lungs. 

For all his study, his skill, his devotion to a career that few would wish for, his experience and his undoubted expertise, I give grateful thanks to Good (and that's not a typo).

"Here's to you and our time together ...."


Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Not only, but also

I've just read on Facebook a post from someone I know who was told her cancer would kill her and in the not too distant future - in other words to use the phrase that is bandied about far to freely these days: terminal cancer.

Refusing to accept the terminal bit, she begged the oncologists to give her as much treatment as her body could stand. She's had countless rounds of chemo, three occasions of surgery, some radiotherapy; other treatments too numerous to mention and is about to start imunotherapy to be sure to be sure.  Today she posted that her onologist has told her that she is cured unless proved otherwise!

We must never say "terminal" - it's a ridiculous word given that we are all "terminal" from the moment we're born.  In my experience there are two types of people: those who when told their cancer is terminal surrender themselves to the arms of the oncologists without questioning, without querying, without learning, without taking responsibility; basically without hope.  Then there are the others, like this friend of mine, who regard the news as a personal challenge, a mountain to be climbed, a project to be carried out, an education to be acquired and a life to be regained.  No prizes for guessing who survives.

So, would it just not be sensible, instead of focusing on a worst case, to deluge newly diagnosed patients with tales of all those who have successfully conquered their afflictions and lived to tell the tale?  Methinks outcome statistics could be greatly improved by just that culture change.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

It looks like an epidemic

When I was a child my mother could barely bring herself to say the word "cancer". Instead, adults would whisper about it - or talk about the "big C". I suppose it was because such a diagnosis was then almost invariably a death sentence. My family should have known better, as my aunt survived for at least twenty five years after her mastectomy.

Now we say the word right out loud and almost every week someone I know gets in touch with me wanting to know what it was that I did to help my outcome. It is either for them or for a member of their family, or perhaps a close friends. I always suggest they check out the CancerActive web site where Chris Woollams reviews all the latest research.  And I tell them about Journey Therapy and changing my diet radically.

What amazes me is the frequency with which these requests occur.  It seems to me that cancer is now an epidemic, yet officialdom does not seem to be curious about the reasons why.  Maybe it's because deep down we all know the reasons: the toxic mix of stress, nutrition-less products that pass for food, our obsession with sugar, and the background of pollution which we compound by smearing on ourselves a whole concoction of chemical products.  When you add to that the dozens of radio and other electro-magnetic frequencies which invade every space we occupy, is it any surprise that our bodies are going wrong?

And of course it's big business - cancer - that is.  Big chemical and pharmaceutical industries are dependent upon the non-stop consumption of vast quantities of their products and chemotherapy for cancer is a big money spinner. One could be forgiven for asking whether they actually want to cure cancer.  Or do they want to continue to make mega-profits from treating it?  It is an unpalatable proposition I'll admit. 

I will leave you with that thought. Just think about it the next time you're contemplating taking part in some stunt  or other, supposedly to support a major cancer charity.  Are you really helping the cause or are you just paying for more research into how to make more money out of cancer?

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Six years since, dogfish and polystyrene

I was reminded by Facebook (thanks Facebook) of the date of some surprise news. I couldn't be sure exactly what the news was, so I had to go back through this blog to find out. It was the date of the appointment at which my consultant told me that I was being offered surgery. That was six years ago. The time has flown by since and it all seems a very distant memory now.

It was that reminder, dear reader, and also some conversations I've been having lately, which have caused me to put fingers to keyboard in a rare update of this blog.

The conversations were about soap and smells and memory. This got me thinking about the soap they had in the washrooms at my grammar school which in turn led me to recall the dissection of dogfish. I studied Biology at O Level - and in fact I got it twice because they awarded me an O for my failed A level two years later. Part of the course was dissection and we pulled apart frogs' brains and also dogfish. I hated the dogfish in particular because of the smell of the fish mixed with the formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a preservative and it's what our dogfish were kept in. Without gloves we had to take up scapels and dissect these smelly fish.

It is only now that I realise there are significant health indications about formaldehyde. Thanks Wikipedia for: "In view of its widespread use, toxicity, and volatility, formaldehyde poses a significant danger to human health."
After this horrible experience, we washed out hands in very cheap soap, which obviously the school bought wholesale.  Such was my hatred of the smell of the formaldehyde and the dead dogfish that in time I began to hate the smell of that soap just as much. Imagine my horror a year later when I realised that all soap in my best beloved's parents' house was the same stuff. Every time I went to see my in-laws, I found my hands smelling of that horrible soap and hence pictures of disintegrating dogfish entered my thoughts.

Formaldehyde wasn't the only toxic substance to which my grammar school exposed me.  There was also danger in the art room where we took polystyrene tiles and, using a hot-wire contraption, we were encouraged to create sculptures. "Research has shown that when styrofoam is burnt it releases toxic chemicals and smoke that can damage the nervous system and lungs."

I'm not about to sue the education authority responsible for both the formaldehyde and the burning polystyrene but I just thought it worth recording these two exposures to toxic chemicals which occurred earlier in my life, just in case anyone researching such things ever stumbles on these ramblings.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

New year, new life

These days I have joined the reflective brigade when it comes to Christmas.  I suppose, because I have now experienced 67 of them, I have many to remember. But it's strange that the predominant thought that comes into my head just before Christmas is "this is the time I started chemo". Don't get me wrong, I'm not morbid about it; not in the least. Without the chemo I wouldn't be writing this now. It's just a thought I have and it tends to predominate in the days before the festivities.

With those thoughts this year comes a new one and that is that this is the first Christmas and new year I've had since the consultant said I was cured.  So in a way I am approaching the new year with a new envigorated feeling. True I was sure I'd beaten it some years ago; but hearing the specialist say the word made it official. And officially I'm now just like the rest of you again - living my life with a peculiar derrangement of logic which makes me feel immortal.

So what I shall I do in this new year? Well, I will sort out more of the contents of this house.  I will renew my vow of buying as much as I possibly can from charity shops or at least secondhand. I will continue to help and serve those of my friends and family who need me. Is there any big project that I want to undertake? Is there anywhere I want to go? Is there any experience I want to have? No, I am quite content. Life is good just as it is.  It's so nice to be able to say that.

Here's to your new year too and I sincerely hope you can be peaceful, fulfilled and content too.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Cured of lung cancer

So today was the day, following one final CT scan, that my consultant said he regarded me as cured.

If anyone has found this blog by chance and wants to know the story, then please read the posts from early on to see what happened to me and what I did to aid my chances. 

But, just to summarise: I had a diagnosis of inoperable lung cancer back in November 2010. I was put on palliative chemo. After four doses I was given the option, or not, for another two. That all went so well  that I was offered surgery after all.  Minus two lung lobes with no residual cancer in my lymph nodes, I have been on a regular check up routine which ended today.  I have now survived over the five years which are used in cancer stats.

My gratitude to my thoracic consultant, my oncologist, my surgeon and the very many hospital and medical staff I encountered is profound. I must also thank my Journey Therapist, the hundreds of people who either prayed or aimed their positive thoughts in my direction, my friends and family for their support, my Reiki practitioner, my naturopathic nutritionist and particularly one special friend who pointed me in the right direction for research into diet and lifestyle. 

My case seemed hopeless at the start but I didn't feel hopeless. It was difficult at times but I managed to stay positive all the way through and now, almost unbelievably, I can look forward to a long life. Oh happy day!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Where we are now

Well, as no doubt I told you, originally I expected a check up every six months for three years and then one each year for the next two and then I would be signed off.  I've realised - due to the enthusiasm by my consultant and his side-kick to see me every six months - that of course when they made this prediction they didn't think I'd be around to attend any appointments. So they keep seeing me.

A couple of months ago, after prolonged spell of holding my year-old grandchild on my right shoulder, with his knees drawn up because he had colic, I developed a twinge at the top of my chest on the left. It came and went and sometimes I'd get an odd twinge in my back on the left of my back. (I had my cancer in my right lung lobes) That reminded me of the only physical manifestation of my original cancer; a slight discomfort somewhere below my right shoulder.

So I duly ran along to the doctor about the twinge in my chest.  He said if it doesn't go away come back and see him. Well, around this time I was greatly stressed by several things and, although I began to realise that it was probably a pulled muscle at the front, and nothing more than a subconscious tightening of all the muscles in my left shoulder, I duly returned to the GP. He wrote "chest pain" on the notes and suggested I had the net x-ray early as it was scheduled for the next checkup in a month or so.

When I went to see my normal cheery thoracic consultant a couple of weeks ago he confirmed the x-ray was fine.  But he'd seen the "chest pain" on the notes and made up his mind I should have a CT scan. It is true that I haven't had one since 2012.  I told him the NHS had spent quite enough on me alraedy but he wouldn't be dissuaded so I'm not waiting for the results of the CT.  I see him again next week and I expect to be signed off for ever this time. Part of his motivation I think is that he's moving to work elsewhere and won't see me again.  I think he wants to be sure to be sure that when he leaves me I'm totally in the clear.

In one way it should be really reassuring; in another way, it's another one of those waits, another one of those check-ups where I hyperventilate and my blood pressure goes shooting up. But there we go - that's the system.  I anticipate it will be sunny news again and I will try to remember to up date you, dear reader.