Thursday, November 10, 2005

This entry was written before I realized Zoë had already posted today, so there’s quite a lot of repetition in here. Funny though how she can sum it all up in a few short paragraphs, when I seem to go on... And I’m supposed to be the quiet one!

As ardent followers of the blog will know, yesterday we were back in hospital for more tests, and a meeting with the surgeon himself - Mr Ind. (Yes that should be ‘Mister’ and not ‘Doctor’ apparently it distinguishes the surgeons from the doctors.)

We began with an early morning trip to the Royal Brompton hospital where Zoë had to visit the Nuclear Medicine department for an injection of a ‘glow-in-the-dark’ substance that would be used for her bone scan later that day.

Despite this appearing to be a relatively busy department, we were in and out of there in a relatively short space of time, and then off to the Royal Marsden.

Thankfully the Royals (i.e. Brompton and Marsden) are just around the corner from each other, so it was no more than a 10 minute walk between the two. Good news when you consider the relatively tight schedule we were on!

Back in outpatients at the Marsden, after a few minutes waiting, we were ushered into a small room and told Mr Ind would be along to see us shortly. This, now familiar routine (waiting to see someone), is always a little unnerving as you sit there in the clinical surroundings.

Each time it seems to take a little longer for me to come up with some humorous comment about either some strange looking apparatus; the nurse (who yesterday was determined to dissuade us from having a flu-jab, on the basis it all but gave her flu last year); or anything else that springs to mind.

Personally I think I may have peaked when on the last occasion I suggested the device mounted in the room was in fact a periscope used to seek out and destroy Traffic Wardens in the area - but however stupid the suggestion, it matters not what is said if it raises a smile on Zoë’s face.

Mr Ind came in and told us again about the plans for next week's surgery. This was basically a recap of the news we’d been told last week by other members of his team, but this time from the man himself. Despite the repetition, it was good to hear again, as we’re bombarded by so much information every time we visit that it sometimes takes a while to sink in.

The only downside to us seemed that he was a little more sceptical about the likely success of the particular surgery - but in a strange way it’s actually reassuring that he’s open about all possibilities rather than raising expectations too high. At least we’re aware that there’s always a chance ‘Plan B’ will come into play.

After this it was down to the basement to Day Surgery where Zoë had her pre-op examinations. All fairly standard stuff really - height, weight, pulse and blood pressure and then a chat with another doctor.

Next we were off for another x-ray and then there was just enough time for a quick bite to eat in the canteen before heading back to the Brompton where the David Bailey of the Nuclear Medicine team was awaiting Zoë for her close-up.

A busy day then, but we got a lot done in a relatively short space of time. Mr Ind has requested one final test before the surgery; some sort of new MRI scan which she’ll be undertaking as part of a clinical trial. We’ve no problem with that though - the more information the surgeon has the better, it can only be a good thing!
I forgot to mention that in a rather random moment last week I saw the queen. Was just wondering into Kingston minding my own business when I was diverted by police to the other side of the road and suddenly there she was looking like a rather elegant Ribena berry.

Matt and I are still suffering from this cold and so it was rather miserable to have to head up to the hospital for MORE tests. We had to go to the Brompton for my injection and then to the Marsden and then back to the Brompton for my scan.

Saw my surgeon - he's more pessimistic than the other doctor last week as my tumour is quite big but he's keeping an open mind, just preparing us for the worst I think. Have to have ANOTHER scan next week in Sutton - it's part of a trial so not only will it help me, but also hopefully help other people - animal testing, but I'm the animal!

Then I had to be checked over in readiness for my op - not easy with this stinking cold and other things, which made my blood pressure drop to something so low that the nurse commented on it (90 something over 80 something I think).

So we got home absolutely shattered. But something that we have both commented on is how nice it is to have these outings. I have decided that all my singleton friends should consider their future partners with the hospital test. If you know that he/she will come with you and sit quietly and hold your hand and not worry if you don't want to talk for hours on end, or will make you laugh when you need it then they are the one. If you can't see that happening. Forget it. Harsh but fair.

You probably don't know this, but when I'm writing these posts I generally have at least one cat in the room. Either just being a cat somewhere, or on my lap, or standing on the desk, or on the keyboard. They are being very cute and protective of me at the moment.

So I've added some random cuteness because everyone needs to look at kittens once in a while (except Col, who can keep his thoughts to himself!!). These are Blue and Berry before we adopted them. I'll post some current ones at another time!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sunday, November 06, 2005

On top of everything Matt and I have very bad colds so are feeling v. sorry for ourselves and rather soggy. It never rains... But we had a lovely evening on Friday going to our local bonfire night and watching the fireworks, though somewhat ironically no bonfire.

Anyway we had news of all my tests on Thursday and the news is not bad - it looks like even though my cancer is stage 2 rather than 1b as first thought, I may still be in with the possibility of a thracheletomy rather than a radical hysterectomy (in other words fertility saving).

It's pretty amazing because this is very new surgery and very few women are eligible for it, but because I'm "young" for cervical cancer, and the cancer although invasive is contained, I'm one of the lucky ones. Also it's not available in many places in the world and often people fly to the UK for it so I guess location, location, location plays a bit part in it.

HOWEVER it's worth bearing in mind that although things are positive, they won't know for sure until they open me up, plus they are a little worried that one of my lymph nodes is swollen so these will be removed and tested. If it's cancerous it's out with the surgery and in with the chemo.

So we've moved a step forward, although it is a small one. Surgery now on 18 November rather than the 11th, as there is some sort of conference next week and they wanted all the surgeons to be around.

I am also having a bone scan on Tuesday - I have had some discomfort with my coccyx and so we agreed that it was a good idea to be a bit radioactive for a day just to double check. Of course it could be anything but a certain amount of paranoia kicks in.

I've finished work for a while - it was becoming too stressful for various reasons and Matt put his foot down when I was a wreck last week (as a mild mannered chap when he does put his foot down I tend to listen!). So I will probably need to have 2 or so months off as this surgery, even though not as radical as a hysterectomy, us that it effects your whole core so recovery is slow. Though I believe that the Royal Marsden physios are rather scary and they will have me moving asap. I'm glad of this - I don't want to be sitting around for two months and hope that I will be able to move around a bit. Apparently pottering is ok, but housework not!

I also wanted to add that I don't see myself as brave, I don't feel it really. You just have to get on with things the best you can. I'm grateful for all the love and support that I'm getting (though still not convinced about cabbage juice!) from friends and family, and from work. The other thing is, all the books that you read are about breast cancer and other types of cancer. On the whole most of the websites for cervical cancer are very dry and medical and you don't hear much about other women's experiences in terms of surgery (most women I know have had less radical treatment). So my hope is that eventually this will be useful to other women who might find themselves in my shoes. I had found a website called Hyster Sisters (only in America!) which is for women who have had hysterectomies and I found it very positive and informative - though I feel a bit of a fraud now!

As Ann said, with cancer there are a lot of silver linings. I guess that I am a secret Pollyanna - I'm not very good at feeling sorry for myself all the time (though with this cold it's easier) and she's right, there are lots of silver linings to be found. The fact is that this experience is in some ways life affirming - the good is very good and the bad is awful, but a lot comes into focus - I'm afraid I'm not very patient with people who are negative about the smallest things at the moment!