Well this is a very belated blog post, nearly two months after the last one. But like the British winter I am so how still here, and on to the next phase of the treatment for the Cancer That Will Not Die (tm).
Since I last scribbled on these pages, I've finished my course of Chemotherapy and started on a four week stint of Radiotherapy. The chemo was as dull, boring and tiring as it always was. Subsequently I've managed to lose my hair for the third time, and my hat collection is still in full use.
What's new is the exciting world of Radiotherapy. Images of lasers and James Bond films come to mind, but the reality of the process is a bit more prosaic than that. The Monday after I was finished with the Chemo I was in the basement of Barts having a CT scan to determine exactly what areas need to be zapped. Once this was done I had 6 small marker tattoos (3 for my lung, 3 for my pelvis) applied. I asked for a Tiger but apparently they don't do requests. This was so the machine, called a linear accelerator (linac) knows exactly where to line up on your body, so it doesn't irradiate the wrong bit of you, leading to pain / death.
After a couple of weeks rest to let my immune system recover from the poisoning I embarked on the course of Radiotherapy. It's 20 sessions in total of weekday zapping treatments. I'm halfway through having done 10 now. The process goes something like this. You arrive in Barts basement and get allocated a machine. My one is called Mars (they're all named after planets) and is a temperamental little sod. Three times in the last week it's not worked properly or gone on strike in support of the junior doctors. This is a pain as they have to fit those patients in to another machine, which causes long delays.
Anyway if the linac machine is working, you get undressed down to your pants and socks put on one of those stupid gowns with the gaping hole at the back. Then you lie on a bench and the technicians line you up using green lasers (see a bit James Bond like). This is basically being man-handled by the team into a position which you then have to stay in and *NOT MOVE FROM* Like playing a terrible game of statues. Once you're in the right position the linac goes to work blasting the cancer cells with concentrated radiation, in the hope of breaking down the tumour and killing it. As I have two sites, I get my lung done first. Then we stop half way through to set up the machine in a different way to do my Pelvis. If everything goes to plan you can be done in 30 minutes. If not you can be there for hours hating everything.
I was stupid enough to think that this was going to be a doddle compared to the chemo. In a way it is, there's less throwing up for a start. I'm cycling in everyday (5 miles) and continuing to go to work. The process doesn't hurt but it is bloody knackering though. I'm sleeping up to 10 hours a day at the moment just trying to get enough rest. My consultants are happy with the progress and hopefully when this treatment finishes on my birthday *cough* 16th May *cough* I'll be not needing treatment for a bit/some time / who knows* *delete as appropriate.
As a treat to myself, the day after my treatment I'm off to West Cork in Ireland for a week to drink whiskey, read Yeats, look at the sea and have a mini-breakdown.
So that's you up to speed. Everything is dull and repetitive but we're slowly getting there.
Currently I'm...still getting over the last Episode of Line of Duty.. listening to The Hamilton Soundtrack..riding on the new cycle superhighway. Bike infrastructure finally comes to London!