We have dates! Went to the Marsden yesterday, all by myself, armed with a stick so I look disabled and people steer well clear. Saw the lovely Dr Aisha Miah, who remembered me from the last visit. She is a tiny, but very reassuring, presence; someone you can ask all the nagging questions. Like the one about the hotspot in my groin lymph glands that the PET scan had picked up and I have been angsting about, knowing the cancer cells could have travelled. No need to worry, sarcoma cells do not become lymphatic cancers; if they do spread it is to the chest/lung and liver (not sure quite how reassuring THAT is!). So my next scan will be in April and then three-monthly thereafter.
Next Thursday (16th) I go to have my leg cast made; then Friday a localised CT scan of the leg so they can position the ray machine correctly. Then start properly 30 Jan, though I am hoping she can bring this forward a few days, so I can escape to Singapore for a couple of weeks before coming back for Easter and my first scan. Each session will take 30 mins. For the first 5 weeks they will irradiate the whole leg, and the last week and a half they will notch it up a bit to concentrate on the sarcoma area to zap any remaining tumour cells.
I have signed a consent paper, which is rather grim reading.
Intended benefits: improved survival; prevention of recurrence
Serious or frequently recurring risks:
Acute – skin reaction (redness, tenderness, breakdown…severe discomfort); tiredness, oedema (very likely)
Later – permanent skin discolouration; thickening of skin; impairment of joint/limb function (esp. knee joint) fracture risk; secondary cancers; lymphoedema.
She says I will need wide trousers to prevent irritation – so a visit ot Primark in Oxford Street is called for! Help! and lots of aqueous creams…
So not much to worry about then!
We had a giggle about the Prof’s views on training women doctors: I was interested to gauge her views. She said, ‘I told him he had better wear shin pads in addition to full body armour’.
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Meanwhile, to help me prepare and boost my immunity and general well-being, I have started doing free weights and sit-ups in addition to the physio. I am also working my way through a lovely Chinese cookery book of recipes especially for cancer patients. Luckily we have a TCM shop (traditional Chinese medicine) just down the road for foxglove root , hyacinth bean seed and the like.
I am also walking unaided: last night went to 12 Years a Slave – by bus! – and walked up the road to the Chinese restaurant; I can do the half-mile aller/retour to England’s Lane to do shopping, and I have just traded in my sexy red mini Cooper for a rather less glam second-hand metallic black automatic. Arrives next week. So I intend to live as normal a life as possible during my incarceration in London for treatment.
I was reminded of the fragility of life last week (as if I needed reminding). On the way to Geneva airport we saw the most terrible accident; a white van with all windows blown out, children’s toys, bikes and sledges scattering the road and bank, and the family dog – a beautiful red setter – being stroked by a paramedic. It was the only living thing left at the site, but not for long. It raised its head woefully to look right at us while the vet sent him to sleep.
I am haunted by the image of that family: one minute returning from a lovely Christmas holiday, car packed with presents; the next and their lives are forever blighted.
All the more resolved to make the most of it.