Monday, November 26, 2012

November 21st 2012. A dark day.

Today I went with my mum to hospital.

She was told that she has an abnormality in her colon.

So now we know that me and my mum are in the same boat. It makes me sad to think of her facing the treatment etc which this disease brings in its wake. We don't know yet exactly what her treatment programme will be. She has to have more tests yet.

I am so sorry that you have to go through this, mum and I hope I can use my own experiences to help you deal with it all.  I love you very much.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


Rather gutted to find that lots of my photos have gone from here thanks to some "improvements" in how facbeook deal with photos ..

What a shame.

Friday, May 11, 2012

New Scan, New Challenges

Well there is good news ...the lesion on the right lung has not changed and there is nothing new to report on this 6 monthly CT scan result ..

I hate to be too euphoric in the same way I hate to get too miserable with bad news .. but I think a little YAY might be in order here ..


Brightly coloured in honour of the wonderful anti-cancer regime and its trade mark turmeric .. my life is being extended by this regime ... no question


So I need a new challenge .. in the past I have taken time in remission to do up this shed, renovate our home in Stoke and establish a forum for anti-cancer materials. 

Now I have started to look for a few more mountains to climb ...

Onward and upward, people, onward and upward ... and anyone who hasn't switched to the anti-cancer lifestyle, whether you have a diagnosis or not, I would just ask you, why the hell not?

Find out more here:
My Anti-cancer Forum

You know it makes sense ..

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Lung Op recovery

Update on healing .. it all went pretty well, but I still get some sensations of pain around the front of my ribs, which are worse, even "quite bad" when I am tired ... it is 3 months since the operation now.

I did my physio breathing and stretching exercises religiously, as instucted; my breathing and movement now seem perfectly normal again and I have resumed cycling at least on the flat, with occasional hills, which also seems OK most of the time .. although I am noticeably slower and need more rest after exercse than I used to.

In fact I feel pretty weedy quite often, which maybe related to the ongoing effects of all my treatments, but could be exacerbated by a persistent throat virus which I have been labouring with for a month now .... it is getting better but I suspect still debilitiating me like a flu type thing .. it takes me a while to recover from anything like that nowadays, perhaps becaase my white blood cell count has never really recovered to normal after the chemo (which finished two years ago!)

Not withstanding any of this we just had a lovely break in Paris just now, and I walked a lot.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Just a quick note to get that miserable post off the top ... happy to say that despite a couple of cancelled plans I am increasing my ability to cycle on the flat and Mr K and B have both been on rides around here with me in the last 8 days ... In fact I have clocked up more than 100 miles in two weeks, which is good for March.

Friday, March 02, 2012


I had planned to go to the gym for a body balance class last night, but I had to stay in because I was hit by one of my on-going living with bowel-cancer hours .... which basically means I cannot walk away from the loo for an hour or more ... it's shit ... literally.

I have had bowel cancer and it is SHIT.  Do not read this if you are squeamish cos this is a TOO MUCH INFORMATION posting ...

I can never forget it about my bowel cancer because I am now living without a substantial chunk of a vital part of my body and the way my gut works is never going to be normal, it is always unpredicatable, and often difficult.

I guess I am lucky in that the on-going impact of having a very short gut with no rectum and no ileo-cecal valve does not often interfere with my plans .. but this is mainly because  I am at home so much, or not doing things which are dependant on precise timings ... or things which only need an hour or more of my time, so when my gut goes on one of its spasms I am usually close by the toilet and there is no-one else to notice me running in and out of the loo for an hour or more.

I am writing this as a record because, well, just because I don't bang on about it doesn't mean I am not permenantly managing a difficult personal problem . Sometimes have to cancel my  plans to stay by a toilet ... it is not a very visible disability, but it certainly IS a disability ... and it limits my freedom in many small ways ... the most obvious one being that  I can never plan a meal out in the evening that will take me far from home, because I cannot drive any distance after an evening meal.  I have to be by the loo.  Quickly and urgently.  In fact driving any distance at all at any time can be a bit nerve-wracking. Luckily there are times when it is calm for a few hours at a time .... just I never know in advacne when these hours will be!

IF I cannot get to a loo quickly enough I can, and do, soil myself.  Real shit and real cleaning up to do.  In fact this can happen at anytime, especially in the night.  Talking of in the night, I rarely get a full night's sleep because I always have to get up to SHIT as many as 6 or 7 times a night ... sometimes with time in between and sometimes in a spasmy almost continuous sequence .. or cluster. Sometimes I think the cluster has finished, and I am tired and cold and keen to stay in bed and that is the most likely time to soil myself ... cos by the end of a sequence it is more wet and windy, but still SHIT and I cannot always tell one from the other.

I can only go cycling because I am resolved not to worry if I need to shit by the road-side.  That is a massive taboo to over-come but if I was not prepared to do that I would not be able to go out on my bike again, and I don't want that to happen.

I can only go to the cinema or the theatre if I can get a seat on the end of a row and am prepared to miss the show because of being in the loo for most of it.

I can only go to French classes for two hours because I am prepared to keep dashing out of the class in front of all these people every week.  That is to say nothing of the general vile smell of my wind which is also urgent and virtually uncontrollable... it smells worse than normal wind for varioius reasons, and in the small classroom I am always tense about my impact in the room!  My poor long-suffering wife and friends know more than enough about this on-going problem.

In the summer it is hard to keep well-hydrated, cos loose stools and hot weather mean I am losing fluids and electrolytes quicker than I can replace them.  Dehyrdration hurts.  Hurts my head and makes me tired.

Yes, I DO take drugs to help, this is what it is like WITH the drug! Without it I have an almost consistent stream of loose SHIT streaming out of me.  If I take too much immodium I will always get an explosive  problem later with severe spasms and pain so there is  tricky balance to be struck which is not as easy as it might sound.

I think I tend not to bother writing about this stuff generally .... but what made me think about it was someone asking about the side-effects of the chemo regimes I have had, and I went back through this blog to find out what it had been like for me, and was astonished to see how little I wrote about it, on either of the regimes I have had ... I know I sufffered with the chemo, but it seems I never went into detail apart from saying I was a abit sick or mentioning being tired ...

I guess I didn't want to dwell on it, and I am not sure if ppl want to read all that .. or all this either, of course ... but just for the record, just becaue  it is not written doesn't mean I have not had difficulties along the way .. and continue to have difficulties ...  just for the record ...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Post-op x-ray

We have just been up to the surgeon for a fresh x-ray and feedback.  Everything is good with the x-ray.  There are no gaps around the edges, the lung has blown up back to its normal place and there is no fluid.

I was treated to an explanation of the high-tech gadget Mr S used to work on my lung.  It is some sort of "gun" ... to judge from the way he wave his arms around, over a foot long!  At the business end of it is some amazing gadgetry that will both cut and staple the lung at the same time.  It fires out three rows of staples at a time.  Each cassette costs 50 quid and he used 4 of these in my 4 inch cut.  Somewhat dearer than a skein of cat gut, eh!

It is finally sinking in that we are past this now ... although I cannot cycle for another couple of weeks,. I feel pretty good ...  the pain is bit tiresome, due to the nerve damage inflicted on my back, though I feel it at the front of my ribs, but I Can Cope.

I dont think this is exactly the kit, but this is an example of a triple row-stapler!

If you google VATS (video assisted thoracic surgery) you get to see quite a lot about what is invololved in this procedure, but I only did that AFTER my op. Before-hand I prefer not to visualise these things in too much detail, it makes it too graphic and harder to shrug off mentally .. for me. I have still never looked at any images related to the bowel surgery.

In fact, the keyhole nature of this VATS makes it enormously less invasive .. and therefore much easier to recover from ... far less pain. I have located a (rather chilling) photo of what it looks like to have your ribs "spread" which is a euphemism cos really they have to break the ribs and push them aside in the traditional open surgery .. I hope I can expunge that memory if there is ever a need to go down that route in the future! The surgeon was up-beat about the fact that he would happily operate on either side of me again if there is recurrence in my lungs. Having a VATS procedure means you get less adhesions, so the re-visit on the same side is more feasible.

If you NEED to see it, this page has a video, although, tbh, I have not looked at it!

This link includes a drawing of the traditional access route through "spread" ribs -- again, open only if you really NEED to see this stuff!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Family Care

It has been a real treat, and boost to my recovery, that my sister came up for the weekend and my brother booked a whole week off work to care for me since I got out of hospital.

In the event I needed less "looking after" than we had expected when these plans were made, so we were able to enjoy the sunshine and local scenery together. It has been a very precious treat to see both Julie and Mark and have really special time on our own together.

I mooched around at  Trentham Lake and also the Roaches with both of them in turn. 

I have also been busy with my physio breathing exercises and stretches everyday.  I feel quite remarkably well. My stitches are out and I will see the surgeon again on Saturday.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I got out of hospital on Wednesday.  Must say the discharge process was lacking a certain urgency, and time was trickled through the system, but at last we got out and we went to Shaffers Indian Restaurant on the way back!

Enjoyed a good meal there then got home and settled down for a few more episodes of Downton Abbey.  I fear I might have nodded off through most of them  .... actually.

I am so much more comfy after this key-hole surgery than the whole abdominal incisions I've had before, so I was able to sleep in my own bed with no trouble at all.  Great.

On Thursday we did a little trip out to Trentham, as my surgeon's advice was to walk a lot ..
later that evening my sister arrived from Dorchester.

On Friday  there was some fun running by my relatives, but I just lazed around until they got back and we feasted on oatcakes from the Helen's shop.  Then we went to Trentham and walked around a fair bit. 

Later we bobbed to Hanley so B could progress her passport application and I got Tegaderm from Boots to patch up my dressing. A few successful purchases in TK Maxx made it a great day.

B rounded it all off with a lovely roasted leg of lamb, which she found slightly stressful since we are all out of the habit of cooking meat and the new cooker is still a novelty to us, but it was gorgeous.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fine food

One thing about not being in chemo, I am generally able to appreciate the food here more than I usually can when I am in hospital.

Here at the BMI Alexandra in Manchester they have teamed up with a local chef Paul Heathcote, and it seems he really has influenced the food.  The meat specials at lunch and dinner are very "french" style and really VERY  good.  Last night, I fell with such vigour on the lovely little pink noisettes of lamb that I forgot to get a photo!  They also do lots of veg alternatives with spinach, mushrooms etc so good for building up strength again.

You can get this lovely fruit salad with every meal:

On Monday night I had this tray for my main meal:

The salad was definitely not something you'd want on chemo, blue cheese and perfectly ripe pear, but I loved it, served with rocket and finely sliced red cabbage.  The main dinner was a meltingly soft, slow roasted duck-leg with creamed cabbage and mash. 

I am eating some meat this week because I have been told that meat proteins support healing better than non-meat sources.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Drain Pain

Yesterday I was very comfy and able to move freely most of the day.

This morning I woke up feeling pretty good ..did my breathing and walking then the pain got worse and worse in my chest so by breakfast  I couldn't move enough to even EAT (cripes, always a stress) .  ..

The severe/hot stabbing stuff has eased off but it is still tender and I feel nervy/tense  so trying to relax as much as I can.  This leaves me fearful to move and will not be throwing myself into shower or any other vigorous activity in the near future.

The drain is still swinging too much, so  I cannot have it out, need another x-ray and will see surgeon later this afternoon.

Hey ho

Monday, January 09, 2012

Lung Surgery

Saturday, 7th January 2012

Almost five years to the day since my first cancer surgery I was re-admitted for another operation.

This time I have come to The Alexandra Hospital in Manchester for an operation on my left lung.

The reason for coming here was to have access to intensive care, but as it happens I didn't need it.  The surgeon was able to get in and out through key-hole and I came round really quickly and in good spirits.  Before the op Mr S said he would take biopsies of some thickening of the pleura that he had seen on the CT scan, but in the event he didn't do that, he says it all looked very normal.  He has taken out a small tumour from the lower lobe and he was pleased with how it went.  He has taken out wide margins just in case this is a new form of lung cancer and not mets from the bowel cancer.  This will be checked out in Stoke.

My throat was sore initially cos he put a pipe down there but the real gyp is from the chest drain. It didn't hurt at first because he "blocked" the nerves with some local anaesthetic, but once that wore off I really felt it. I am having some controlled drugs to help with that .. but sometimes it really hurts like a hot iron rod pushed through my chest ...  it can make me cry out and sweat ... eek. luckily that only lasts a short while, generally.   Unfortunately the lung is still leaking air so the drain cannot come out yet.

The food here is good, with nice soups they make themselves and a good fresh fruit salad so I feel well nourished .. although a bit anxious about the side-effects of codeine and morphine slowing my gut down ... so I am not eating much at a time.

Physio are on my case about breathing exercises and walking about so I have a timer set to hourly intervals to make sure I stick to the programme ... using their little breathing gadget and pacing up and down the corridor too.

Here I am before the operation, mark on chest to make sure they open up the correct side.

Brigid and Mandy just heard the surgeon say it was all tickety-boo

About 90 minutes after the operation - talking to my mum:

About 2 hours after the operation, the surgeon said eat and drink plenty:

The drain coming out of my back.  The top plaster is covering one of the two little holes he used to do the procedure.

Sunday, on the move with the physio:

Monday's news is that the lung is still leaky so I have got the keep the drain in a bit longer ... so at least one more night in hospital ... but with morphine before bed time, I will probably be able to sleep again, so that's OK! 

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Christmas 2011

Just jotting down a few memories of Christmas 2011 ... we were so busy I might not recall the details later ..  Apart from anything we both seemed to be fighting off coughs and colds and a couple of times my nights were very restless with my usual belly-aches etc etc .. boring stuff .. but that aside, we had a great time. 

We decorated the shed in homage to my mum's decorating style:

I suppose Christmas really started with my trip to Dorchester to see all the family and exchange gifts there.  The boys seemed to like their shirts: 

 On the way back up the country I also managed to grab a little meeting with Mark, Tracy and Luke, despite the flat tyre trauma at the start of the return trip! 


Brigid and I started our Christmas plans by getting Brigid a 12 day guest membership at my gym, which we used at least 8 times, I think.  We went most mornings if there was not a "better offer" and generally did at least one class.  We did lots of body-balance and yoga with a few cycling classes of great strain thrown in for good measure.  You never work so hard on the bike as you do in a class with a super-fit  guy barking out intructions for interval training  .. we really enjoyed that.

We also made good use of the time to do relaxing in the spa bath and the heat of the saunas for a treat too, which was very relaxing.

We saw a fair few people over the holiday, which as lovely.

Went to Manchester to disperse a few pressies and caught a glimpse of Kasia and Gary before they set off to Poland for their own Christmas time.
The same day we enjoyed a little party at James and Huw's  house, where we met a few new people, we especially liked Sarah and Beck. James and Huw also came over to us before  Christmas and we had a meal up at the pub with them.  Here I am modelling one of my sister's dresses:

On that same day we has seen Liz as she was driving by over and called in on her way to Chester.

We also bobbed around a bit with Mr Kettle, including a rare foray back to the house to collect Christ mas Cards! 

Kay entertained us at her house for Christmas Day, and is her photo, and also one of me wearing the other dress my sister lent me, though the cardi pretty much covers it in this photo! 

Greg came one afternoon and left his business card .. so professional these days!  B and Greg went out for a walk in the woods, but I was a bit frail that day.

Mandy and Pete planned a great evening where we went to theirs for tea with Jenny and John.  We then all went  out to the Theatre for a very entertaining show: "You can't take it with you"

We saw Bet who lives on the site a few times, she sometiems came over in the evening for a little drink with us.

Clare came over one afternoon to get the last look at the shed before we winterised it.

On the way home from the shed on New Year's Eve we popped in for a lovely lunch with Jane, David and their son Timothy.

In addition to the gym routine we also made good use of the mild weather to do some trips out.
One evening we went for a walk around the Chester City Walls.

One afternoon at the Chester Zoo, which I am determined to use more when we are back the the shed next year, it is lovely, apparently one of the top 15 zoos IN THE WORLD!  The tiger cubs feeding and the jaguars walking by our legs on the other side of one-way glass were highlights of that.

I already mentioned the theatre trip, which was close contender for being my favourite part of the holiday, so many laughs, but the actually tip-top favourite trip was braving the winds to get a long walk along the coast at Crosby .  I just adore being there and gazing out over the Gormley statues.  The tide was going out when we arrived and the wavews were very high.  In parts it was almost too hard to walk into the wind with the soft sand whipping into our faces, but to me that makes it all the more interesting.  It is a blend of art and nature that never seems the same and always holds my interest. Awesome, really exhilarating.


Packing up was quite hard work, and we are still busy unpacking and arranging all the stuff from the shed into the house .. it is rather strange cos everything here is still very new to us as well! We are faced with new wardrobes, new shelving outside in the shed, new kitchen.  Nothing very familiar about it at all, yet.  But two months hibernating here will soon make it feel like ours again!