Chapter 20: Well, shit.

So when things can’t get any worse, turns out they really can. How one person can have such colossally awful bad luck is beyond me, but here I am.

The weekend before last we decided to take a last-minute trip to Devon to take advantage of the unexpected February sunshine, which was lovely, but in typical fashion included 1/4 of my days in A&E at Torbay Hospital. They were nowhere near as concerned as my local hospital would have been, which was very strange, but each NHS trust operates by different guidelines and who am I to tell them how to do their job.

Whilst away I started to notice some pain in my lower abdomen again, a pain I knew only too well which niggled at the back of my mind and took over most of my daily thoughts. When you know you just know. We arrived back home from Devon at 1am Wednesday morning, and after about 3 hours sleep I awoke feeling pretty awful and with a fever of 38.1, so off we went again to my local A&E. They admitted me for antibiotics (standard procedure) and planned a CT scan for the following day.

Friday morning we received the news that I knew was coming. This second attempt at chemotherapy has not been working. One of the consultants described it as each dose of drugs temporarily shrinking the tumours (enough for it to look like a ‘good response’ on a CT scan, as shown 6 weeks ago) but then the cancer growing back larger than before between each dose; to the point now where it has increased considerably and spread to my liver (and other places I don’t particularly want or need to know about).

So the question is what now?

Tomorrow I have a meeting at the QE in Birmingham to discuss and find out more about the new CAR-T therapy that I am now eligible for, having failed two lines of chemotherapy. It’s clear at this point that chemo is not going to work, which is just as well because they are running out of drugs to try on me! Up to and including this point I have had a total of 12 different drugs, across 3 different regimes thrown at me, and after nearly 12 months of chemotherapy, my body is slow to recover now. So slow. But this new treatment isn’t chemotherapy, it’s immunotherapy, so there is still hope.

I will do another update later on this week once I have a bit more information and I know a bit more of what the plan is, right now I have to think about dragging my cancer-ridden arse off the sofa to get ready for a meal tonight with my cancer sistas!

Once again, please keep your ‘I’m sorry’s and your ‘sympathies’ to yourself; they don’t help anything, especially not me!

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Chapter 7: Sun, sea & sensational news

I’m now officially half way through chemo! *jumps for joy*

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I was discharged the day after my last rant blog post. I have now had 2 weeks at home to recuperate and stuff my face – the longest I’ve had out of hospital in 3 months! I’ve done lots of sleeping, lots of eating and lots of slapping on factor 50 and sunbathing. Chemo makes your skin extremely sensitive to the sun, as well as making it thin and dry and just generally gross looking (hello wrinkles that weren’t there before). After my last prison stint of 3 weeks, I was ready to fight the consultants if they didn’t give me a long break at home before trying to get me back in. Luckily for me (I so would have lost that fight) they explained at today’s clinic that the previous 2 rounds of chemo (we’ll call them A and B as they are entirely different drugs and schedules) they almost treat as 1 super-round of chemo. So whereas between A and B it wasn’t that important for my bloods and body to recover, it was more important to stick to the schedule, between the first A and B which I have already had and the second, which I am soon to start, they have to let the side effects subside and leave enough time for my blood counts to come back up to normal. I am not complaining in the slightest – give me more time in the sun, please! 🌞

Friday to Sunday we went down to Devon and it was glorious! Sunny and relaxing and just what the Doctor ordered (well, they said I could go away as long as I was within an hour’s driving time of a good hospital 😂). We stayed in a lovely farmhouse B&B between Exeter and Sidmouth and drove around the coast visiting different towns each day. It was so nice to just be ‘normal’ and eat lots of good food. I managed to put 1.7 kilos on between last Thursday’s appointment and today’s! Looking less skeletal and sickly is a good thing!

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Today I was also given the amazing results of a CT scan I had last Tuesday. Prior to the scan, my consultant had said that he would hope the scan would show a 60-70% reduction in the size of the tumours. The report from the radiologists stated that the tumour in my chest was reduced by 80% volume and that there were no masses in my abdomen – which means that the 2 that were there have gone! *cue more jumping for joy*

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I also finally got the lavender wig of my dreams 💜, so all in all I can say this past week has been bloody great!

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