Saturday, 28 April 2007

Major Life-Threatening Surgery? Too much to take in!

So yeah, went on thursday for my fourth lot of Vinblastine.

I was taken into the consultant room to speak with my doctor and was yet again introduced to more student doctors. I know they mean well and are only trying to learn but it's annoying when you are about to hear the results of tests and want to ask the consultant personal things......rant over :P

Anyway, the week before i was sent for a routine chest x-ray to see how my tumour was reacting to my new doses of vinblastine and the results were not bad, but not amazingly good either.

It showed that the tumour hadn't shrunk at all but at least the good thing is it hasn't grown anymore. This means that the chemotherapy i'm having is stopping the tumour from growing but isn't killing the cancer cells off.....not really any change from last time.

One extra thing.....

When i first ever got diagnosed the doctors explained how difficult surgery would be as the tumour is attached to my main artery and also my heart - basically saying it was a no-no.

Now however it seems they have changed their minds.
My consultant is now sending my scans and x-rays over to a specialist surgeon at the local adult hospital to see if he would attempt to take it out.

He didn't want to say much apart from the fact that it would be major surgery as it's so close to everything keeping me alive. They wouldn't be able to take the whole thing out but they want to try and take as much as possible. They then want to try and start me on another course of radiotherapy in the hope it will kill the cancer cells left.

One setback?
We have to now wait and see if the surgeon is willing to take on such a big operation.

I've got a funny feeling my consultant was holding back on a few things. My surgery would take numerous hours and the slightest slip up could be fatal.

Kind of scary really

So yeah, for the minute, we are waiting on the surgeons decision, could take a few weeks.

For the time being i am still taking weekly Vinblastine treatments in the hope it will keep the tumour at bay for now.

Will update this as soon as i find out any more news.

The doctor didn't explain whether there were any other options apart from this surgery....i sure hope so, at least then we will have something to fall back on.

I don't know whether i want this surgery to go ahead, but then again i think it's the only way forward.

It's either risk my life in that operation or not risk my life and end up loosing it anyway if nothing else works.

I think this is where the real fight is going to begin....

Friday, 27 April 2007

From Diagnosis To Where I Am Today

Hey and welcome!

Thought i'd start way back in the beginning and tell you about all the chemotherapy, radiotherapy and various other treatments i've had up to now.

I was first diagnosed way back in May 2004 after a month of constant tests, scans and a biopsy operation.

The tumour is a type of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma though the proper name for my exact type is Anoplastic Large Cell Lymphoma. It's a very rare type of Lymphoma and there isn't a set type of treatment for it, i was sort of like a guinea pig where the doctor's decided to give me whatever they thought would work.

I started off with a six month stay in hospital where i was given a course of mild chemotherapy. I can't remember all of the drugs i had but Methotrexate sticks out at me for some reason. After the initial six months of chemotherapy i was sent for a scan to see if the tumour had shrunk or even disappeared, it hadn't. The tumour hadn't changed in size at all and the doctor's explained that it was very unusual to not see any change at this point.

They then suggested a more higher course of chemotherapy. I had another three months of chemotherapy drugs that seemed as though they were working. I became very ill from the drugs and had to stay in hospital for a further two months. The muscles in my legs wasted away and i was isolated away from the rest of the ward. Noone, not even the doctors, could explain what infection i had taken on. Sure enough i came back fighting and on christmas day 2004 i managed to get out of the hospital and back home. It was only one night but wow i had waited so long for it, i don't think i've ever wanted to go home so much in my life.

Further tests showed that the tumour still hadn't shrunk to what the doctor's wanted. They explained that the tumour was near enough inoperable, as part of the tumour was attached to my heart and the other to my aorta (the biggest artery in the human body)
They did a few biopsies in between treatments to try and take away as much of the tumour as possible, but they could never remove it all.

In February 2005 the doctor's suggested another plan of action - Radiotherapy. I was given a course of 23 lots, but only got as far as 13. The consultant radiographer told me that if they carried on it would damage my lung and i would end up a respiratory cripple.

Another plan of action washed down the drain.

By now, doctors were running out of ideas. My consultant was in contact with doctors all over the world, trying to find the best treatment for me.
He suggested a new drug that had been linked with my type of cancer - Vinblastine

I was told it was a mild chemotherapy drug and had hardly any side effects, meaning my hair would finally grow back.
I went on to have this drug for a further year and following this i had another biopsy operation.

Finally got the good news that the part of the tumour they did remove was dead, which most likely meant the tumour that was left in me was dead aswell.
The doctor said i should carry on with the vinblastine for a few more months just incase there are any cancer cells still present.

In November 2006 i was finally put into remission. This is a period of 5 years where you are monitored closely as the cancer is most likely to come back during these crucial years.

My follow up scans in the following months showed no change and the tumour that was left seemed to be well and truely dead - in other words, scarring tissue.

That was until last month...

I started to develop a cough that wouldn't go away, i had it for four weeks and the doctor sent me for a scan only to have my worst image relived.....the cancer was back

After only three months of remission i was being told i'd have to relive my journey all over again and treatment should start straight away as to stop the tumour growing any bigger.

So here this blog ends and the next one begins. I will keep this up to date with any new changes, treatments or ideas that the doctor's come up with next.

My future is up in the air at the moment, noone seems certain of what it holds for me.

All i know for sure is i will keep on fighting this, no matter what happens