Graham and I finally had our birthday date in a hospital cafe two weeks after his birthday. Today’s venue was the Coffee House at the Freeman Hospital and was a change from our previous Costa/Subway dates at the RVI. However, given that I’ll have at least 31 appointments at the Freeman before the end of January, it’ll soon be passé too, no doubt.
The Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman was where we met my consultant oncologist, Dr M, and one of the Specialist Nurses, Katie (who was also at our initial appointment with Mr H and has popped up from time to time). I would still be meeting my oncologist at the Cancer Centre if my tumour was still classified as benign. Nonetheless, to walk into a centre with the C word in the title was a sobering reminder (not that I needed it) that I am now one of millions of people living with the Big C.
The Divine Ms M
The consultant was a lovely lady who also filled me with confidence. She started by asking how old I am and immediately followed up with “and how old do you feel this week?”. I answered truthfully that I veer between about 45 and 65. I didn’t add that a couple of weeks ago I would have added 20 years to each end of that range.
After going through current medication and seizure activity (small-talk for an oncologist, I would guess), Dr M told me that she wanted to carry out a course of radiotherapy followed by chemotherapy.
She confirmed (as I expected) that the radiotherapy will be given five days a week for six weeks. To begin that process, I’ll have an MRI scan, CT scan and a moulded mesh mask made of my head. She will then look at the scans and work out with physicists from which angles to attack the Squatter. This means my radiotherapy is likely to start in a few weeks.
The first couple of radiotherapy sessions will last a bit longer than usual as l will have further scans. This is to confirm that they’ve calculated correctly and are hitting the Squatter. After this, each session will last 10-15 minutes (i.e., it will probably take longer to get parked).
Dr M told me about the possible side effects (including tiredness, patches of permanent hair loss, memory loss and concentration problems for a few months). Despite this, and because none of it was a surprise (and, well, I don’t have a choice really do I?), I duly signed my consent form. She said that she would go through the chemotherapy consent form at a later date.
Since we got back from the hospital, it’s been all go. I started this blog post, then had a pesky seizure, then had a quick lie down before the children came home from nursery and madness ensued.
I’m feeling more energetic by the day. I’m trying to balance getting exercise by walking (to build up my stamina and avoid my leg muscles withering on the vine) against not pushing myself and resting when I can. Last week, resting mostly won, whereas this week sitting up and walking (albeit short distances) are winning, without an increase in seizure activity (still averaging one a day).
By the way, I fear that we have run out of seizure-related puns. Send me any suggestions and you will get a shout-out if I use one.