Cheltenham Oncology Centre

10-Pre-fight build-up.

4th May 2020

Not only am I starting treatment earlier than planned, we all get the chance to escape lockdown for an hour or so, with Samros and Nisa being able to ‘take care’ of me, on the drive to Cheltenham. We’ll that’s my excuse to the old bill if we get stopped.

They’re not allowed into the Oncology Unit, but happy to sit in the car and wait. Each session I have is generally around 20 minutes , of which about 3-4 minutes is all required for the main treatment.

Here’s a picture of my main LINAC – named by the hospital as ‘Cherry’.

Personally I’d prefer somthing like ‘Big Lenny the LINAC’, but just pleased to have Ms Cherry on my side.

You can also see Big Manny laying there waiting for me…

I’ll update treatment once or twice a week – not sure much will happen this week – as we just weigh each other up on the 1st round.

Click here for in-depth details of the Gloucestershire Oncology Centre

I also found a great explainer of what a LINAC is and how advanced things are these days.

Enjoy this video – It’s from a clinic in the USA, but exactly the same model as I’ll be treated with.

I just wished w could have dubbed good old Glosser accents into the presenters 🙂

25-A Quickie Divorce

18 November 2020

Well, I suppose I did know this day was coming – but didn’t know exactly when. But I can now reveal that Miss Peggy the PEG and Big Wozzer were today divorced at Cheltenham General Hospital. The separation ceremony was performed brilliantly by the ever lovely and professional Vicky, my Macmillan Specialist Nurse.

It was an emotional morning. Miss Peggy has been with me since mid-April, some 7 months and we’ve been very attached – quite literally. She always knew the way to my heart was through my stomach.

During my darkest days post-radiotherapy during June and July, she kept me alive as this was the only way I could take any water, drugs, or nutrition.

Sure, in more recent weeks my dependence on tube-feeding has diminished, while I attempt to improve eating and drinking by mouth. That’s not perfect by any means and I still have to be quite careful in my choice of food and drinks.

When I say choice of food I, along with most that are recovering from throat cancers, find moist and soft foods are easier to swallow. Saying that, almost every bit of food must be accompanied by a sip of water or whatever, because the lack of saliva makes things difficult -to say the least. It is improving by fractions each week, but could be many months or years, or never - to be back as before. A small price to pay in the big picture – but also a constant reminder of my condition.

Anyway, I don’t have Miss Peggy to fall back on anymore, so it has to be onward and upwards with solids now!

And just for completeness – for those that want to know, the PEG removal was fortunately very quick and painless – except for a couple of seconds as the extraction through my stomach wall and skin, caused me to wince.

The PEG tube has been held in place by a ‘balloon’ or ‘mushroom catheter’ and an internal ‘retaining disc’ which stops it being pulled through.

There’s a very thin wire inside the feeding tube and for the removal procedure, the wire is pushed into the balloon, which deflates it and then it just requires a sharp tug to pull the tube to the outside – the flexible retaining disc being the bit that causes the sharp, but momentary pain.

Here’s a diagram which roughly illustrates my description.

And CLICK HERE if you really want to see the real Miss Peggy as just removed.

So that’s about all to report for the moment. My secondary tumors are not causing me any pain or distress – except for knowing they are there, so to speak.

As written previously, I’ll know more hopefully sometime in January when I expect to have another scan and results. In between of that, I’ll have a meeting with my care team in December and will write a quick update post in around a month from now.

Until then, thanks for following me on here or Facebook and for your kind notes and comments. I do really appreciate it

 

Woz xx

31-Big balls are not aways desirable

1st December 2021

Well, it was always coming, but a bit of a shock just the same. I’ve had a nagging pain in my back for a good couple of months or so. Not a lower back muscular pain and certainly not a sports injury!

I flagged this up at my recent meeting with my Oncologist – the ever-professional Dr Warren Grant. He did say that secondary tumours in the lung sometimes show few symptoms and for those that do, a low ‘nagging’ pain is not uncommon.

So, definitely time for a new CT scan to see what’s developed since my previous scan back in May, when the tumours were still relatively small.

The results of the scan came back last week and yep, it was a bit of a shock – to me, at least.

Metastatic (secondary) tumour development in right lung

Jan 2021 May 2021 Nov 2021 About the size of…
Tom 17mm 20mm 55mm Snooker / Pool ball
Dick 14mm 15mm 36mm Ping Pong / Squash ball
Harry 7mm 11mm 29mm Lollypop candy

I say ‘to me’ because Dr Wozzer indicated that these sizes are not too bad, when considering the overall size of a lung.

“Oh really?” I thought.

Anyway, he decided that now is a good time to begin treatments. The plan is for some ‘palliative radiotherapy’ now and most likely to follow with some cycles of chemotherapy in the new year.

So a couple of days, ago I was back to the Oncology Centre in Cheltenham, for a pre-treatment scan and some body mark-up.

Felt a bit strange (and disappointing) to be walking back in there nearly 18 months after the throat radiotherapy.

In another respect, a feeling of familiarity: The same receptionist greeted me with a ‘Hi Warren’ - obviously remembering me (or at least remembering the tin of biscuits I left back then).

And the radiologist doing the prep work was the ever-friendly William – who is always bright and cheerful and became a good ‘mate’ during the hard weeks of treatment back in May / June 2020.

Will took me through the procedure which was a quick scan to see the tumour locations and then a tiny ink tattoo on my chest, which defines the ‘reference point’ that will be used when aiming the radiation treatment.

I’ve known all year this treatment was coming – and I’m ever so glad that Dr Grant held off until mow. It’s allowed me a good summer and autumn to get around and see family and friends.

Equally I’m now relieved that treatment is commencing. Larry the Lump was well beaten – and remains so.

I also know that Larry's sons - Tommy the Tumour, Dick and Harry have been gearing up all year for a fight and I’ll be taking them on next week, with the first bout of palliative radiotherapy.

I'm scheduled for five treatments (known as 'fractions') on w/c 6th December.
More from me soon after x