9 days post op and I definitely feel like I have 'turned a corner'. I was back to see Merv today. He was very pleased with how the wound was healing. He took some blood and as an added bonus the stitches came out as well....1 week earlier than planned!. I am now definitely starting to feel that the long awaited run I am so keen to do is getting close now...may even beat that 13th August target, you never know!
So I have received some good news this morning....Merv is happy enough with my progress to 'release me back into the wild' tomorrow morning. Whilst it has been very comfortable here nothing beats your own bed!. Other than the obvious physical barriers that I have faced along the way, it has been the mental side which has 'tested' me the most I think this time round. I have had many opportunities to speak with those people who treat cancer patients like me...the work they do still astounds me and has been a source of immense inspiration. Whether they have been the surgeons, the doctors, the nurses, the porters, the cleaners....literally everyone one of them in their own way has helped get me through all this. I have been incredibly fortunate to have had the best team possible. It is not just the 'obvious medical care' but the conversations of support constantly. Isaac, one the nurses here just yesterday made, what to most would be such a small comment about taking life for granted...the fact you never even think twice about putting on your underwear every day, suddenly now becomes such 'a privilege'...ridiculous I know but so true. He also said that in his job he very much 'takes the lead' from the patients he cares for...somehow this has made me want to try and help him..so he can help me!. I full intend to 'grab life by the balls' once this nightmare is over. If this episode in my life has taught me anything, it's that going out there and doing what makes you happy is really important (I know this is a real cliche and often people in this kind of situation say this, however I can honestly say that once you are 'in it' you really feel it). It doesn't mean you have to step on people to get it, in fact quite the contrary....try and take the ones you love along with you for the ride as well!...Jack and Ollie, look out, we've got some serious 'boy adventures' coming up in the next few years!.
Déjà vu!. Once again I lie here in another hospital bed recovering from another surgery...already it feels like a long time ago, but it was only 72hrs since the surgeon was prepping to go in and take my latest cancer instalment out. There are a few things that feel physically different this time round...the first being how much more tired I am. I wondered whether this is partly done to the fact that I have had 2 surgeries in 2 months, but perhaps more that this time my body has been left to regenerate an organ. I guess I will never really know. My frame of mind on the whole prognosis is still good, and provided there are no more shockers from Alice in the coming weeks / months, then I genuinely feel that this disease is well and truly behind me. Maybe it's just that this is my third stay in hospital in as many months or the fact that this one has 'hit me more' physically, but I must admit feeling a little low / lethargic today. The liver nurse has just been into see me this morning and said that once all the tubes and wires are out I will feel like a new man....I am holding her to that!. The plan is to do this today. Getting through the next few days building up my strength I feel in my head will be a key milestone. Still on course for 13th August..in my head at least!
Unfortunately my worse fears were realised yesterday as I had it confirmed that the cancer has indeed spread to my liver. It is important to say though that this is what is referred to as a 'secondary cancer' and therefore not as serious as being a 'primary cancer'. In a nutshell this means that they can at least perform surgery to cut it out thank god....the prognosis is good. Merv, my new surgeon is now 'my man on the case'!. He will carry out the procedure next Wednesday. Similar to last time, this will involve another stay in hospital (probably around 1 week), followed by another 4 weeks recovery before chemo starts (for the originally planned 6 month period). Having now had the chance to take in the news, whilst of course I am totally gutted that I will have to go through another surgery, at least it will hopefully mean that this will be the end of it and I can kiss this thing goodbye!...again!...forever!. Feels strange that I have set this website up to try and promote running as a way to help get through cancer treatment and I'm not even running at the moment!. The desire is there for sure, but sadly while I have this problem from the main wound following the bowel surgery, I know I would be really stupid to. Instead I will keep the focus on the day when hopefully soon I will be able to 'don those trainers' once again....new goal being 13th August (I don't know why this date but at least it's a target 4 weeks post surgery!)
Not a post I was hoping or expecting to write so soon after the bowel surgery only 6 weeks ago. Anyway I have just had another major set back as I learnt yesterday, following an appointment with Alice (my oncologist), that the cancer is potentially back in my liver. I really felt I had been through all 'the shocks' of this cancer journey so far, and so admittedly was completely 'floored' by this news. Next steps are to get an urgent appointment with the liver cancer surgeon Alice has recommended, based down in Basingstoke. As I understand this chap is world class and so once again I am in good hands which is of course really encouraging to know. 24hrs on it has now properly sunk in and I am trying to stay positive in spite of everything. Being able to start exercising and at least feeling like I am actually 'doing something' will really help me now I think. With the wound from the surgery slowly getting better I hope that I can maybe consider a short run next week...I really hope so. It now looks likely that there will now not only be the chemo (which was always part of the plan) but also more surgery....I guess I have done it before so no reason I can't again.
For the past 5 nights I have been back in hospital as a result of a post surgery complication. A lot makes sense now, as the pain I was getting in the immediate days / weeks after surgery felt worse each day, when surely you would expect the opposite?. Anyway an abcess which had been building finally 'showed itself' on Monday and I have been here ever since (now Saturday). Once again fantastic staffing care which I really cannot fault, (even though this is NHS rather than private as before). I also now have confirmation that chemo will start for me on the 14th July (in 2 weeks time) and will last 6 months. It will consist of a fortnightly dose where the drugs are administered over the course of a 48 hour period. In a way I am keen to get started just so that I can get a feel for how my body will cope and whether I will be able to carry on working and running. On that subject this is now officially the longest I have gone without running - 5 and half weeks!. I really miss it and can't wait to get the gear back on. I must admit I have some apprehensions about how it will all go as I now have to cope with a stoma and everything that comes with it. All the people I speak to say that having a colostomy won't change anything and I can run as 'normal', however I really want to get out there myself to truly feel it. Whilst I am still a little sore from the events of this week I am so pleased to be leaving hospital today and going home to see the family for 'home recovery number 2!'. Maybe a short run in the next 2 weeks before chemo may just be on the cards!..fingers crossed
As I lie here at home in 'recovery mode' now 3 weeks after the operation to rid me of this dreadful disease, I have just logged into my running log site (garmin connect). The obvious thing that strikes me is the glaring hole in the calendar where there would normally have been a series of more runs 'under my belt'. I am really desperate to get out and 'pound the streets' once again however know that right now it is totally unrealistic. For now I will focus on my recovery which if I'm honest is taking longer than I had hoped. The only complication from the surgery was that they had to put in a catheter for 2 weeks. Anyway I had this out last Friday and needless to say its been a challenge to get everything 'back on-line' again:). The surgeon saw me on Monday for a follow up appointment and once again re-iterated how happy he was with the outcome...the headline message being that he felt confident that he got it all and that I am now in theory cancer free!. Sadly this doesn't change the planned chemo which will start in a couple of weeks time, however I am trying to see this as a positive thing in that at least this will make absolutely sure. During the last couple of weeks I have joined 2 different fantastic Facebook support groups which I would highly recommend: * ostomy lifestyle athletes * colostomy association I had never been much of a social media user prior to my diagnosis, however these groups have changed that completely and I now cant get off them!. The fact that the members are people who are actually living with / recovering from cancer is what makes all the difference. In particular the ostomy lifestyle group which is made up of people like me who love to keep active and fit. I have gained some fantastic advice from many of the members such as what best to eat and when pre and post run. Also I have now learned that you CAN still run with a stoma...there is some great clothing / support belts which can help you feel as 'normal as possible' to enable running to be as easy as it was before. So my next focus is to start up running again before the chemo starts...will target 2 weeks from now...let's see
After 5 nights in hospital I'm heading home to try and get back 'normal life' again. The team here have been absolutely amazing....it's not very often you can look someone in the eye and truly say "thank-you for saving my life", however there are a huge handful of staff here where I can really say, and mean this! I am really looking forward to being in my own home, with the family helping me put the pieces all back together again. My wife has been incredible throughout the last 6 months. She has been there to talk stuff through with, but at the same time not dwelling on the cancer and getting bogged down in it all. Using humour has been really important to both of us in dealing with the situation..having a good old belly laugh is really what we both need every now and again as it just takes the focus away. The boys (age 7 and 3) have been such a help in 'normalising' everything...as far as they can see there is no problem with Daddy still going to work, running, bath times, and everything else he always has. As for the rest of the family, my mum, dad and 2 sisters....they are frankly the best!...they have been there the whole way to support me through the ups and the downs and I know will continue to do so through post surgery recovery and round 2 of the chemo. At the end of the day I am determined that the cancer treatment will fit around me, and not the other way round. My surgeon ('number 1 in the huge handful!') has just come in to see me for the last time before discharge and said once again how well he felt it all went. Of course I will still feel sore for a good few days / weeks, however it will get easier and the main wound will heal eventually. His words when I asked "when can I run again?" were music to my ears...."you will know when your ready"...exactly what I wanted to hear! Now, where did I leave those trainers...!...(only kidding)
So it's done!...what a relief to finally have rid of the cancer. The surgeon was happy with the way the operation went which is great news. I can now start on the long road to recovery and hopefully get back to running / normal life as soon as possible. I know I have a lot of readjusting to my lifestyle to deal with from now on, however I feel ready to cope with it and just keen to 'get going' again. Coming round from the surgery, I checked my emails, only to be greeted with a reminder from the Baxter Loch Ness marathon (which I signed up for last year prior to the diagnosis) that there are 'only 18 weeks to go'!.....there is of course a large part of me which would still love to take part and do it, however I realise this is unrealistic....one for next year I think. It was always my aim when I first took up running 5 years ago to try and do at least 1 full marathon a year. I guess 2014 will have to be my 'year off'!
I have a real mixture of feelings today being the day before surgery. On the one hand I am pleased that I will be able to say this time tomorrow that the cancer is gone....at least that's the plan. However on the other, going into the unknown, without being able to control the situation fills me with a fair amount of fear. Also the thought of dealing with the inevitable lifestyle changes afterwards are what has been keeping me awake at night recently. It feels so strange going into hospital for an operation when I physically feel so well right now. I know that in less than 24 hours I will be feeling much worse. Of course I understand that this has to happen, but still it doesn't change how I feel. Managed to clock up nearly 560 miles running between finishing the first stage of treatment back in early Feb to now. I am so pleased to have been able to keep this up (injury free) - it has hugely helped focus my mind throughout. I have been given 4 'pre-op' high carb drinks to take today. I must say it does feel rather odd to be taking these prior to an operation. It would be more likely that I would be drinking something like this on a 'race day'!....oh well, it will be interesting to see how I get on tonight as I do my last 10k run for a while....you never know, may set a PB!:) Seeing my surgeon on Monday this week, in preparation for tomorrow, I asked him how quickly he thought I could be running again. I was pleased to hear that he was talking in 'weeks' and not 'months'. I am however under no illusions that what I am going to have to go through will be very tough and that I will need to be properly recovered before 'hitting the pavements' again..... Anyway, I will sign off for now and get properly cracking on this website once I come round again.......