COVID-19

1-Never mind this corona virus stuff…

31st March 2020

Just about a week into the UK lockdown, and already an addict – of Amazon Prime, BBC4, all News channels and even a subscription to Disney +

The lunchtime news was reporting prior day cases had risen to over 22,000 cases and it was increasing at around 3000 cases per day. Serious stuff and admissions starting to rise exponentially. Hospitals were coming under extreme pressure for equipment, ventilators and in many locations – beds.

I’d been experiencing some odd moments while eating for a few weeks – nothing serious, just food getting caught in the gullet and causing a slight coughing fit. Anyway this lunchtime the coughing brought up a quantity of blood…

So it was not with total embarrassment (but close), that I went to the A&E reception at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital (GRH) and wondered if someone could have a look at my sore throat 😉

 

As busy as they were, it didn’t take long for a doctor to come and see me. I explained what happened and out came the lolly stick. Say ahhhhh…

It only took one look and then she said ‘ah – I’d better get you up to ENT for a better check with a specialist’. ‘Can you come tomorrow morning’?

Next day appointment, with all this virus going on?

That got me thinking…

26-What a year that was

Friday 11th December 2020

Today is exactly 6 months since I finished radiotherapy on Friday 12th June and ‘rang that bell’. So I thought a good day to reflect back over this mad year, which is both forgettable and definitely unforgettable…

And what a year indeed.

It started for me quite normally – as with most of us I guess. January started good for bookings in the travel business and then later that month, news of the coronavirus was starting to appear. I spent most of February cancelling the majority of our guest’s bookings. And then from March on – along with everyone else in the world, trying to make sense of things.

Reading back through my blog, it was the last day of March – while the UK was in ‘Lockdown 1’ that I strolled into Gloucester Royal Hospital A&E with my (now infamous) niggling sore throat.

And here I am now.

Larry the Lump has gone – beaten and K O'd in the final round by Radical Radiotherapy, although he gave me quite a hammering along the way. But I had an amazing team in my corner - so I was more than confident all along 🙂

My recovery from the radiotherapy is still going in the right direction. But fatigue; lacking a sense of taste and issues swallowing food are constant reminders of the effects of the cancer and treatment. As is the slightly numb left ear which has some nerve damage, also as a result of the radiotherapy.

But all in all – I’m told by the medics I’m in better shape than many after just six months post-treatment. Of course, the secondary tumors that were identified, are a constant reminder that there’s still a way to go. I’ll deal with them next year and of course, it will all be dependent on what further scans show.

It's not all bad though...

I’ve lost a lot of weight – some 35kg / 77lb or 5.5 stones. In fairness it was needed because I did need to shed some blubber, but I’ve gotta say – it’s a tough diet and is not recommended at all as an aid for weight-loss 😉

Still, I’m down a good three dress sizes and getting into clothes I’ve had (literally) hanging around since 2005. They’re almost back in fashion too!

Also in September was the ‘worldwide coffee morning’ that I held on Zoom, raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Charity. I have such fond memories of that day – meeting up on video with family and friends all around the globe.

Also – avid readers of this blog may remember there was a prize winner drawn from all the people that were on zoom with me that day – and the winner is a good mate of mine - Phil Butterworth, who I’ve known since my early days in Siem Reap, Cambodia, around 10 years ago.

I had comissioned a commemorative mug from Macmillan - specially printed and then shipped to the USA, where Phil now resides. Here’s a lovely selfie as sent to me from Phil.

Enjoy it mate!

So that nicely wraps up this chapter and the final one for 2020. I’m scheduled a further PET/CT scan sometime during January 2021 and I’ll update this blog with information, when I have the results from that.

But for now on behalf of Samros, Nisa and me, we extend our sincere thanks for all your messages of support and to wish you peaceful holidays and a healthy and happy New Year, wherever you are in the world.

Take care
Woz x

27-Learning new words about Cancer

30th January 2021

As they say - 'you're never too old to learn'.

And it's true. I’ve learned a new word: Scanxiety - which describes ‘the apprehension felt by people with cancer as they wait for their next scan’.

This came about by doing too much of what I shouldn’t - which is hunting around the interweb trying to find information, about things of which only give me an incomplete picture as to what's likely to happen.

Let me back up a bit. My first full scan, post treatment was done last September – and that was a very anxious wait to find out the results.

Good and bad was the outcome of that scan. Good that the throat tumour has diminished – bad that metastatic (secondary cancer) tumours had been found in a couple of locations.

They weren’t deemed ready for treatment then, but another scan was scheduled for January 2021 to see if there’s any further development.

And there is.

No matter that I try and not worry about what I can’t influence, but waiting for that next scan and the outcome, is never ever far from my thoughts. Every day.

That is definitely Scanxiety.

And so I was ever so glad to have my January PET/CT scan and the subsequent appointment to discuss the results. The scan indicates a third tumour showing in my right lung and the original two in the same lung are still developing.

It wasn’t a great shock and I’m now back under the care of my oncologist – the excellent Dr Warren Grant. He phoned me the other day to get my thoughts and to update me on his thinking.

As ever with me, it’s not yet clear-cut. I will be starting treatment again, but right now it’s not definite when, or with what. By this I mean the choice will be either Chemotherapy or the much newer Immunotherapy treatment.

This is another new word for me. Immunotherapy ' which uses substances to stimulate my own body immune system to fight the cancer'. I suppose it's too much to wish these will be ganja-type substances, but one can hope - eh?

The decision depends partly on whether my cancer would be receptive to Immunotherapy and also on the overall effect of how my body will respond to either of the drugs.

That – and the schedule for treatment will become clearer on my next appointment with Dr Grant in mid-February.

But for now, I’ll end on a lighter note because I just received my first Covid vaccination jab. I’m in ‘group 4’ because of my condition and treatments.

No surprise that Gloucestershire NHS have it well sorted. Very quick and slick at the vaccination centre and no pain either.

Although I’m sure I heard the nurse whisper under her breath that I’d just feel a little prick.

Not a new experience for Wozzer… 😊