Monday, 16 August: Just a quick update to let everyone know how my meeting with the oncologist went today.
A biopsy of the lump in my neck, formed by three small lymph nodes, had shown metastatic adenocarcinoma; the CT scan was to find out where else the cancer may have spread.
The good news is that it seems not to have spread anywhere else and is, so far, confined to those lymph nodes.
Chemotherapy isn’t really an option. I can probably explain why not after I listen again to the recording of our meeting but as the recording is over an hour I’ll have to search for relevant bits to pass on. The oncologist does seem to think, however, that a four week course of targeted aggressive radiotherapy could be a useful treatment, even if not curable.
I need to replay our discussion, in particular listen to the probably side-effucks. Even if the memory of the really painful throat, the burnt skin and the extreme tiredness has dimmed a bit (like after childbirth) it is still there. And I remember clearly the pneumonitis, the inflammation in my lung, in particular I’ll never forget the horrendous stay in the assessment unit where they misdiagnosed and mistreated the condition. The radiation-induced fibrosis has never left me causing the breathlessness and the cough, which have so adversely impacted my life. I need to listen and think and research and ask further questions.
If I do nothing then the oncologist thinks perhaps I’d have about six months (she gave me seven last time!) but with treatment that could be extended to a year or more. What I don’t know is how well I would actually be for those extra months. If how I am now – breathless on the slightest exertion, coughing when I’m talking, tired and lacking energy – is as good as it gets then I worry about how I would feel if I ended up still breathing but feeling even more wretched. Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to decide what I should do! This is my decision – but I may ponder aloud.
The next step is to have a PET (Positron emission tomography) scan to check if there are any ‘hot spots’ the CT scan missed. I’ve agreed the oncologist should go ahead and book this while I’m making my decision. It will be about a fortnight before the appointment is through – then however long for the scan result – then more waiting to see the oncologist again.
The one thing I have learned about this world of cancer is that the only certainty for any of us is that it will involve a lot of waiting.
A wee while ago I posted some photos of Belted Galloways in a field near Threave Castle. One of them has just had a calf. If we’re looking for signs and portents I’m taking new life coming into the world as a good sign.