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I HAD A LYMPHOMA / JAN 2012 UPDATE
REVIEWING THE LAST 12 MONTHS
Those readers, and there are over 2000 of you now, who have followed the 40 plus Hubs recording mt voyage through Non Hodgkin"s lymphoma, may recall that around this time last year I was approaching my final stages of treatment and was wrestling with the question of whether to accept High Dose Chemotherapy and Stem Transplant that had been offered to me. In the event, and with the somewhat grudging support of my Oncology Consultant, I opted against this and instead, took up my conviction that my body had had enough of severe drug treatment and was keener to be put to exercising sensibly. As a result, the Consultant moved me to what he termed "Watch and Wait" ant thus, every 3 months, I report for an update and review by the Hospital Team that served me so well through the dark days of 2010 and into 2012. Now, in 2012, I am preparing for my next 3 monthly visit on Jan 19th. It is a poignant time given my background, for very recently a former Footballer, Gary Ablett lost his personal battle with Non Hodgkin"s and my former colleague Keith Blunt, completes a course of Chemotherapy, ahead of Surgery in February, after a return of his particular form of Cancer.
Those events, plus the review looming ahead for me, crystallize the mind to both reflect on the past 12 months and look ,hopefully, forward whilst keeping a clear perspective about things.There are over 200 different forms of Cancer and as Research moves on, the chances of cure gets better by the year but at the same time, there is no certainty about anything and one may be forgiven for thinking it is a lottery in all aspects.
1 IN 3 PEOPLE CAN EXPECT TO BE DIAGNOSED WITH SOME FORM OF Cancer DURING THEIR LIFETIME. SOME WILL LOSE THEIR BATTLE, SOME WILL GET TO REMISSION ONLY FOR THE DISEASE TO RETURN AND SOME WILL ARRIVE SAFELY THROUGH THE TREATMENT THEY HAVE BEEN GIVEN.
The above statistics are those that are with me constantly. I was diagnosed with Cancer ! Why not, 1 in 3 are, so there was always a more than reasonable chance that I could get it, was there not ? I went through Treatment, survived and moved to Remission. Again, this happens to many so diagnosed. Finally, always lurking at the rearmost parts of the mind is that it could return and that an even tougher fight could be in front of me, like my friend Keith has at this very time. The odds are indeterminate on that of course but as I approach the 12 month mark since the end of my Treatment, they are ever with me, and for a soundly based reason. Simply, this is because both my Oncologist and the Professor in charge of High Dose / Stem Cell treatment, stressed to me that the chances of return were greatest in the immediate 12 months following initial Chemo / Lumbar Puncture treatment.. My 12 months is just about up and my visit on Jan 19th is the one that will underline that.
The last 12 months began as I completed my treatment and secured the agreement of my Oncologist, following a further PET CT scan which showed no return of Lymphoma activity at that time, to go on "Watch and Wait". At the time there was a feeling akin to euphoria, further bolstered after my return from Turkey in July ,to receive a vote of confidence from the Oncologist who ,after reviewing me, told me that he thought I had chosen correctly in refuting the extra treatment on offer. That view was supported in October at the third review of the 12 months , when again I was given a clean bill. However, at all times the Professionals are adamant that whilst I am in Remission, they cannot state whether I am cured or not. I do not expect them to change that position when we meet on Jan 19th 2012.
The state of being in remission is one that is both welcomed and of concern. I have to admit that every single thing that affects my body in anyway, immediately focuses thoughts as to whether it could relate in any way to a return of the Lymphoma. Despite my oft stated conviction of the importance of maintaining POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE it is impossible to deflect the mind from these initial thoughts. Thus, any bowel problem immediately is a cause for concern as I recall that it was through an emergency operation for a perforated bowel that the Cancer was discovered in July 2010. Bowel functions in my case have improved throughout the period, and thanks to my wife and her strict ensuring that I stick to a GLUTEN FREE diet, that area seems to be working better than at any time I can recall. Even so, that does not mean that the occasional, and I stress ,occasional twinge, does not cause a momentary concern. The same hold true of things as diverse as a sore throat or a pain in my left shoulder and forearm. Are they ? I reassure myself daily by inspecting for lumps and am happy when I discover none, but then immediately recall that no lumps were visible or able to be felt prior to the operation which found the Lymphoma on my liver! So, I return to the "symptoms" that heralded that event. In fact, there was but one, a swift loss of appetite, followed by weight loss. Thus, I am reassured as I continue to eat like a horse and have seen my weight steadily return to a good level, around 13 stones, my best weight. This, after my bottom level of under 11 stones following the operation back in 2010 and which has recovered steadily in line with diet and exercise over the 18 months. Readers will know my "obsession" against Obesity and that I am a great believer in the school of "Eat less, Move More" Thus , my weight is now returned to where Iwant it to be and will continue to be a key register in my personal assessment of my health.
Thus, the last 12 months are like quite a lot of my early school reports and record "Steady Progress" Downsides are that the Neuropathy in my hands and feet still linger. As a result, my balance, which was very good, is less so now and Iget frustrated when my fingers do not function as they should. At Christmas my 10 year old Grandson commented after Ihad hit my only Golf Shot of the day as I accompanied him and his father round the course, that he thought I was going to let the club go, so loose was my left hand on the shaft. He was quite correct, for I cannot make a fist with that hand even now, though as I am constantly told, if it is permanent, it is a small price to pay!
Nowadays, my drug intake is, happily greatly reduced from the amounts needed during the Chemotherapy. I have 3 monthly B12 injections and daily 5mg Folic Acid tablets for energy and a 30mg Lansopazole Gastro-resistant capsule for my stomach lining and also an Aspirin, as they are said to ward off Bowel Cancer. At least I do not now rattle if I push myself a bit on the Treadmill !
The last 12 months has been one of consolidation after the difficult times of diagnosis and treatment. Clearly, whilst I was fortunate in not feeling the full side effects of Chemotherapy, the effects on the body and mind at the time are not pleasant and I would hope not to have to go through them again, but will be prepared for it if it should be necessary in the future. There have been mostly good days helping me climb the health ladder once more aided by personal conviction and excellent support from family and friends, for which I am truly grateful.
FACING THE FUTURE.
As always, I approach the review with a mix of apprehension and optimism. If things go as hoped, then the year ahead promises much of what I had planned for in retirement, and to be fair much of which we managed last year. We will again miss out Egypt in Spring, but this time due to my wife, all things going well, becoming a first time Grandmother in February. The cricket season begins early, so before embarking to Turkey in mid May, I will be able to visit son No. 2 at the Oval and also maintain a keen interest in the continuing development of the Sports Business of son No.1. We shall return mid July ,hoping for better weather than in UK last year, before heading back to Turkey for September and after another short return to UK we will hit Egypt in November.These are our hopes. The events of 2010, however, mean that we are well aware that we do not, and never will, know what is round the corner. Will my "Wait and See" programme be extended to 6 monthly visits, might they do another scan or will something else be in waiting? I know not, save to say, we take each day as a bonus and deal with what it brings whilst at all time striving to keep up POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDES to whatever is met. I am convinced that this is a key constituent to a reasonably happy and successful life and absolutely vital where individual health is involved.