Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Light at the end of the tunnel

I’ve just spent a lovely couple of days with two new ladies in my life, Pip and Poppet.  I have started dog sitting for people in the local area, finding pooches in need of daytime attention via Borrowmydoggy.com.  Apparently spending time with dogs is supposed to be great for cancer patients – how could it not be? It gets me out walking during the day and they are two comical characters who always making me laugh.
 
Poppet took this photo

Pip is of a younger generation and so better at taking selfies.  She used a selfie stick to take this one.
 
I’m coming up to my last round of chemotherapy which makes me equal parts happy and fearful.  Happy because at the higher dose the chemo is really making me feel ill – last round I had 12 ‘chats’ to the toilet in one night.  And fearful because it is the end of my formal treatment and if the tumour hasn’t responded (either stabilised or shrunk) they will start me on not one but three different types of chemo for who knows how long.  I won’t know whether it has really responded until I get the results of my next MRI back sometime in July but a little voice inside me says it has (I hope the voice is not that of the tumour).

The recent months have given me cause for hope with new announcements being made about “breakthrough” treatments.  One Duke University study showed that giving patients a modified version of the polio vaccine can delay and even prevent tumours from re-growing.  Another trial showed that instead of opening people's heads up during surgery and putting them back together with titanium plates and screws, which has left me with what feels like a lunar surface for a skull, surgeons can use a catheter to directly access the tumour and directly infuse a radioactive isotope. The isotopes are enclosed in fat particles that stabilize them and keep them inside of the tumour. 
 
Finally, a cure for blue skin

A third development is that of a new drug called Rindopepimut, which sounds like a German dessert that I don’t want to eat.  The drug company, Celldex, just released really promising results from their phase II study and have decided to make it available to patients, before it gets regulatory approval, through a free compassionate access programme.  Drug companies sometimes do this if they want more patient data and to get doctors aware of the drug and used to prescribing its use.  The drug targets a specific mutation that I have tested positive for – it is a mutation associated with shorter survival times so it is important to have it treated. 

I feel more confident than ever that I am going to beat this thing with my combination of chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, ketogenic diet, re-purposed drugs, vitamins, meditation and healthy lifestyle (if you can call lawn bowls that given how much tea and biscuits they throw down) and these new developments.  “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” as Billy Ocean would say. 

Some of the developments may involve travel abroad which will only possible because of the super generous donations that have been made to the Gofundme campaign that was set up by Stephen and Nik.  At the risk of repeating myself, thank you so much to everyone who has contributed.  Cue “Wind beneath my wings” (the Bette Midler version, of course).

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