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Uncertainty

I’ve been meaning to write another post for a while but haven’t got around to it until now. Partly because it’s not about anything specific that has happened, rather it’s about what will happen next. My last planned chemo session is next Monday, after which they will take a CT scan and I’ll meet with my consultant to discuss the next steps. These include doing nothing, having more chemo, enrolling on a drug trial, or maybe something else.

The treatment for my cancer was always planned to follow this pattern. However, it is only now the end is in sight that it is really sinking in just how little I know about the implications of the various options.

So far the chemo has done a good job at shrinking my tumour. The expectation is that it will shrink it down so far but no further, so the tumour won’t be going away. I assume that what is left is likely to be resistant to the chemo, if so continuing with it may not benefit me much.

Whilst the chemo has not had any of the rougher side effects I feared, it is taking its toll, my bone marrow is not working properly so my immune system is impaired and I’m anaemic. The veins in my left arm are not in a great shape, the toxicity of the chemo has weakened them and it is now harder to find a vein that will handle the volumes of chemo I get.

I am also back to experiencing stomach pain. I have had very few pain free nights this month and often get pains during the day as well. These vary from sharp intense pains that tend to last for a few minutes and subside and duller more persistent ones. I have a variety of painkillers available, none of which seem to help that much. I’ve also tried some sleeping pills the hospital prescribed, but I can’t detect any effect from them. Nights are fairly unpleasant, I have to sit up most of the time, lying down makes it all worse. As a result only waking up in pain every couple of hours is the best I can hope for, apart from a few rare occasions when for some reason I am able to get a proper night’s sleep. The reason for these pains remains unknown, maybe the CT scan will shed some light.

I know this all seems rather dark, but I am hopeful that the outcome of the review will be that these problems will subside, for now anyway. The pain has made me a little more irritable than normal, not that I was ever going to win ‘world’s calmest man’. I would also love to get my immune response up, particularly as COVID looks to be with us for a long time yet. The anemia going away would mean I can go uphill at something more than a snail’s pace, other than that I am still fairly fit, as recent 17km and 19km walks showed. All in all I don’t fancy carrying on with the chemo, in terms of maximising what I can get out of my remaining time it feels as if it is no longer providing any benefit.

The next post will be after the review, unless something unexpected happens in the interim. I don’t have a date for it yet, but I’m hoping it will next month some time. Watch this space…


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