The Big C: My Story

A brief account of the last 10 months, having reached a major turning point in the story of my illness and recovery.

INTRODUCTION

This post appears at this time due to news that I received yesterday, which while not entirely unexpected was nevertheless excellent to receive. We start with a…

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

This is a story that has been ten months unfolding, the key dates being (as far as I can remember them):

  • October 5th 2018 – Early return from work due to illness.
  • October 6th 2018 – Trip to Godalming to visit my mother and see the town cancelled due to illness.
  • October 8th 2018 – Hospitalized, so weakened that a saline drip was needed to get me from the flat I was living in (two outside staircases, one of them spiral, from street level) to a waiting ambulance.
  • October 9th-11th 2018 – Investigations reveal that the mystery illness is in fact stage 4 testicular cancer and that there are a number of metastases, including large tumours attacking both lungs (the brain and spleen are also host to smaller tumours).
  • October 12th 2018 – Bluelighted to Addenbrookes just in time to save me from an operation that had it been performed at that time would probably have seen the end of my life.
  • October – December 2018 – Once stabilized there follows a seven week period of intensive chemotherapy to deal with the tumours.
  • December 9th – discharge from Addenbrookes, arrive at new bungalow in North Lynn to begin recuperation.
  • December – January – in and out of Addenbrookes for various reasons, including an internal bleed caused by blood thinners working too effectively.
  • February – March 2019 – a couple of admissions to QEH for breathing difficulties (the second certainly brought on by anxiety)
  • April – July 2019 – A period of consistent improvement, assisted by regular physio sessions at The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House, leading to:
  • July 12th 2019 – At Addenbrookes for operation to remove the testicle that was the cause of all the trouble.
  • August 1 2019 – New physio sessions at Tapping House start.
  • August 5 2019 – CT Scan at Addenbrookes, although due to my veins not co-operating (six failed attempts) they cannot inject the usual contrast medium.
  • August 9th 2019 – appointment with clinical psychologist Dr Amy Daglish at QEH, leading to the arrangement of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy sessions which will start at end of August.
  • August 12th 2019 – appointment with Dr Danish Mazhar at Addenbrookes. Brings the hoped for and almost expected news that I am officially clear of cancer. My next appointment is two months away, and they will be steadily decreasing in frequency, although I will continue to be checked on for the next 10 years. On the way home I arrange to visit NAS West Norfolk’s allotment in West Lynn, where a sensory path is being laid that afternoon.

SHOUT OUTS

Another bulleted list as I do not wish to give these an official ranking order:

  • All the staff at Addenbrookes who were part of my recovery from oncology consultants Dr Danish Mazhar and Dr Han Wong through all the nurses I encountered to all the wonderful support staff who helped at various times. Also and overarching this to that great institution that made it all possible – The NHS.
  • My family, who have been incredibly supportive through all this.
  • NAS West Norfolk who have been incredible throughout this very difficult period. The comments in response to the announcement on their facebook pages of my ‘all clear’ have been amazing to read. It will not be too long now before you have a fully functioning branch secretary again.
  • James and Sons of Fakenham who have kept my job open for me through all this time – I expect to return to work in the spring of next year (given the damage to my lungs returning to that workplace during the winter months seems not to be sensible).
  • Various of my fellow bloggers who have been very supportive through these months (you all know who you are!).

For pretty much the first time since becoming ill I now look to the future with confidence rather than mere hope.

PHOTOGRAPHS

First up, I have just sent an email to the Independent Living Group asking them to include some of my photographs in their Disability Pride Digital Photography exhibition. As well as a link to this blog in the body of the email I attached 10 photographs, one my desktop background image, taken in Cornwall last year, and the other nine recent shots for reasons that should be obvious to anyone reading this post:

Carbis Bay II
The desktoip background image

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Here are some shots from the allotment area:

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A large and colourful fly.

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Red Admiral and bee enjoying same plant.

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The remainder of my pictures…

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Some shots from the new music sessions, which started at the discovery centre this saturday.

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A ridiculously extended car seen from my window on Saturday.

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A map of Addenbrookes, on the back of a leaflet which had been discarded carelessly on the ground floor of the carpark, and which I picked up rather than leave lying around.
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A beautiful Red Admiral.