So I now have a plan:-)....the SABR radiotherapy treatment will kick off on the 6th Sept. It will be administered 'every other day', with the last fraction being given on the 22nd Sept. They have been kind enough to arrange for each session to be either early or late in the day...this will be great as it will mean that I can still try and keep things 'as normal as possible' coming into work still each day. Once again I have been talked through how everything will go and what the potential side effects will be. Given the fact that I have some previous experience with radiotherapy I am confident that it shouldn't be too bad. I remain incredibly optimistic that this is exactly the right treatment plan for me, and the more I speak to the team here the more reassured I am that Alice has everything in hand!. I know I often mention Alice in my update posts, however it is at times like this that I thank my lucky starts that she has been my oncologist and 'wing man!' throughout everything. Thank-you Alice...I really feel like this is a team effort and together, with the continued support from all my wonderful family and friends we will beat this bugger once and for all:-)
A good day today, where I finally found out what will happen. So, in a nutshell it will be an intensive 8 cycle radiotherapy treatment plan (over 8 days) which will start in around 4 weeks. I will have a CT planning session in a couple of weeks. I have been selected to take part in a trial / study on something called SABR (stereotactic ablative radiotherapy). This is apparently something that they want to roll out more widely on the NHS but currently only have limited funds to offer to everyone. So in that respect I am very lucky and incredibly grateful. Essentially the treatment means that the dose is more intense / focused, thereby reducing the number of sessions. I continue to feel very good physically - other than a rather annoying running injury which is forcing me to take a few days off...arrggh:-). Today has once again reminded me of what an incredible organisation the NHS is and just how forward thinking those I have been exposed to in the area of oncology are...thank god there are such amazing people like this out there doing this invaluable work - thankyou all so much!!
With a genuine mixture of sadness and joy, Catherine and I went up to Blackburn Cathedral yesterday to attend the 'service of celebration' for my good friend Ben Ashworth who died recently following a long 5 year battle with Bowel cancer. Some on you may also follow him on-line so will also know him well and what he has endured. Ben was no ordinary individual that was abundantly clear. Not only through the posts he wrote on his social media sites, but through the words he spoke. I first met Ben a few years back at a parliamentary reception at the House of Commons while I was in the middle of my own cancer treatment. I was told by the beating Bowel cancer charity team that I really should meet "this guy who loves running like you"...from the very first conversation it was very evident that this is a man who had exactly the right attitude. He was so incredibly modest about what he had been through and always fought to keep the spotlight on the charity and not on his own predicament. It would have been completely understandable to have had a least a modicum of self pity, however that simply wasn't Ben. Having been told originally that he had only months to live, he defied the odds for over 5 years. He once told me (at the London marathon last year) that he was sure that it was running and staying fit throughout the treatment which gave him this precious time with Louise and his girls. You meant so much to so many people Ben. Please rest in peace knowing that you made such a positive difference in this world my friend. Ben I miss you, but you will never ever be forgotten. Ever time I put a pair of trainers on I think of you, and like you I will never give up the fight xx
Not quite what I was hoping for following my appointment with Alice today, however definitely could have been worse. So the final upshot from the PET scan I had last week is that I have a small cancer growth in my lung (originating once again from the bowel cancer). This time, rather than being in a place where surgery is easily possible (like the last three times), it is located right in the centre of the lungs. So with that in mind, it is most likely that I will undergo radiotherapy, as surgery would probably mean having to lose a lung. Alice will meet with her supporting team, including the lung specialist to work out what the final treatment plan will be on Thursday this week. From what she said today I think it is most likely that it will start around mid-August with the treatment taking place at either Oxford or Reading. To be honest I had feared the worst in that it had spread to other organs, so as strange as it may sound, I am pretty happy it is back where it is…..or course would have been better if it wasn’t anywhere, but heah you can’t have it all eh:-). Thankyou everyone for your wonderfully positive and supportive comments which I really appreciate. I continue to feel really well and with my running back up now to around 35-40 miles a week, it will be more of the same in the build up to treatment.
Still all a little unclear, however unfortunately today's results didn’t quite give me the news I had hoping for. In a nutshell it was what I would probably call ‘good’ and ‘not so good’ news….On the plus side the CT scan itself has not picked up anything ‘new’ in the lungs. That is clearly a relief and something which I am very much clinging onto. On the ‘not so good’ side, my CEA blood result levels have come back with an abnormally high number…..36. It may well be that it is nothing to write home about, however on the other hand could indicate that the cancer is back somewhere else. The only way of knowing for sure is to have a PET scan which should give all the answers Alice needs. She wants to move on this quickly which was great to hear….I will be booked in for the PET scan back in Oxford again at some point in the next 2 weeks, with a follow up appointment to see Alice again on the 3rd July. So it’s the waiting game for now…….and in the meantime it’s more of the same, with running taking center stage as usual:-) Will update again on the 3rd July when I know more.
With a few days now since surgery I am really pleased to report that everything went to plan. As before I managed to make it just a 'one night stay' and was home with Catherine and the boys on Friday. I felt well enough to get back to work today and also have just come back from a 7 mile run which I have to say felt wonderful to be able to do...the weather was perfect for it and it was the ideal end to 'a Monday':-). Whilst I didn't get to actually speak to John after the surgery, his assistant who was there throughout the whole operation told me everything went well and they got it out with keyhole. I will be back to see John again in 10 days or so for an update which almost certainly will be followed by the usual CT scan. Given how things have gone I am so pleased we decided to press on with the surgery. Onwards and upwards!.
As suspected following an appointment with John since my last update, it's off to the surgery table again for me:-). Too be honest I was really pleased to hear that this is the route he wants to take. The fact that I recovered reasonably well last time I think gives him confidence that this is the best option given the situation. So I am booked in to take out this latest cancer instalment on Thursday...same place, same procedure as before. Assuming everything goes like it did last time then hopefully I can be out of hospital a day or 2 after surgery and then back to work and running sooner rather than later. Having finally shaken off a recent annoying injury, it's been great to now be in a position to 'bank' as many miles as I can in the run up to surgery. Physically I really do feel great. I am also definitely mentally ready to take on the challenge once again.... Hope to report back all went well with the op...I'm sure it will
It's all becoming a bit tiresome now:-)..unfortunately I have to report that after a recent CT, the cancer is back in the lungs yet again. Looking at the positive, which I am most definitely, this time it's only in one of them (the left) and it's also very small, so should only be one keyhole surgery. Alice only told me last week and so I am still yet to know for sure what the treatment will be. The next step will be for John Pilling (my lung surgeon) to contact me and let me know what he wants to do. I suspect it will either be to get me in for immediate surgery, or it maybe that he wants to leave it a while to see if anything else develops so he can 'get it all in one go'. Let's see. I have decided to 'park' the London marathon this year and instead focus on something a bit later in the year. Catherine and I quite fancy a trip out to Venice, so maybe we will kill two birds for a quick marathon followed by a few days of sightseeing!.
It’s been 3 weeks now since the lung surgery and I most certainly feel ‘back on form’ again. As it had been a while since I felt the buzz of running in a race (last one being London marathon back in April), I decided to enter a local 10k last weekend. I can’t deny it was fantastic to be back, remembering ‘that feeling’ once again. As I was aware that the lungs are not back to where they were pre-surgery I didn’t push too hard – it wasn’t about ‘the time’, it was really just about the ‘knowing I could still do it’. I am up to around 25 miles a week now and over the coming months my plan is to gradually increase that mileage in the slow build up to the London marathon 2017 which I have in my mind to do again….for my friends at Beating Bowel Cancer of course!:-) Yesterday I met up with Alice to discuss the next steps. She was very pleased with how both the surgeries went and also how my recovery was going. I was naturally thrilled to hear that she didn’t feel it was necessary at this stage to do any more chemo. She explained that this maybe something which will come into play if and when I have a recurrence….let’s hope not eh!. It’s funny but as time passes since I was first diagnosed (back in Dec 2013), somehow I feel differently about everything....I am now acutely aware that ‘cancer’ will probably always be a part of my life in one way or another and that I will go from scan to scan in the hope that I will never see it again. In a strange sort of way it is a kind of motivator for me as I remind myself how much easier it is to get over treatment (whether it be surgery and / or chemo / radio) the fitter you are…..now as I go out on each run, whether it is a training run or a race, in the back of my mind I have this underlying thought. At the end of the day I remain determined to not allow Cancer to run my life….if it comes back so be it….I know I will be ready again for ‘the fight’ should this be the case. However, while I remain ‘free of it’ as I now am, I will carry on enjoying and living life to the full. If there is one thing that all the ‘ups and downs’ over the past 3 years has taught me it’s that with the right support around you, coupled with a focused and positive attitude you really can beat it. For anyone else out there who is unfortunate enough to ever hear those dreaded words “you have cancer”, remember this doesn’t mean your life is over…..quite the contrary, it can often be a chance to refocus your mind and energies on something far more positive!
So with the second lung op now just over 1 week behind me, I am thrilled to say that I am feeling great and ready to face whatever more is thrown at me...hopefully nothing more:-). Fortunately once again it was another keyhole which has meant a speedy recovery. Other than a little tight chested I am all good. I have managed a few runs this week which has made such a difference to how I feel!. Another oncologist appointment in a couple of weeks and let's see what happens next. As I write this I am reminded once again that is those who have to live with someone who is going through cancer treatment that is so often forgot...I am so lucky to have Catherine, my wife 'on my team'...she has been through the whole thing and stood by me every single step the way!. Never have the wedding vows of 'through sickness and in health' been so tested in our marriage...well I can say Catherine 'has been tested' and passed with flying colours!!. Thankyou so much Catherine, we move on 'once again' sweetheart! X