All done 😀

Really pleased to be able to report that yesterday’s operation went well and I’m back “out the other side” again. In the end it was a slightly longer one, as it was decided that as well as taking out the cancer node from the armpit, Andy also wanted to take a wider margin from the previous back operation (done in July) having looked at the notes on file. All in and after 6 hours the job was done and dusted😀.

Can’t tell you how pleased I am it’s over with as I have to admit it was starting to play on my mind a bit and I was feeling it when I ran.

Yet again (this being operation number 8) I am reminded what a truly incredible and wonderful institution our NHS organisation is..... every single one of them being a total professional with such a caring nature. I simply wouldn’t be here today without them and will remain eternally grateful!

So the plan now is to rest up over the weekend and then they will make a decision on letting me home depending on the timing of the drains and catheter removal.

Really looking forward to seeing Catherine later this morning for our ‘one hour only Covid restricted’ visit....thank a lot Mum for looking after the boys!! Love to you all x

Got a date!:-)

So after a bit of to and fro between Alice and the team at Oxford, John Radcliffe I now have a date for the armpit surgery….16th October. 

I met with the surgeon, Andy, a couple of weeks back soon after my last post. I really liked him and his approach. He was incredibly positive and whilst, like me he knows that doing this surgery will not necessarily change the overall prognosis, taking this part of the cancer that remains within my body out can only be a good thing….”it's all about keeping you going as long as we can, right Tom” is what he said – top man😊 

He did a quick examination when we met and said he could feel a golf ball size node close to the surface which is what the scan is showing as being cancerous. The good news is that unlike some other cancerous growths which can occur in the armpit, mine is very close to the surface which should mean that compared to more invasive surgeries which require a deeper operation, this shouldn’t be the case for me. I had hoped that it would be a day case, however he did explain that it will mean a short stay in hospital of around 3-5 days after the 3-4 hr operation. 

I asked the obvious question which was when he felt I could start running again. He said after a couple of weeks allowing the area to heal, I should be good to go again. Unlike the back surgery where I was able to run the day after, the fact this one is under the arm isn’t very conducive for running I guess!.....unless I try to run without swinging my arms which I can’t quite see working🤣. Anyway, as always, its clearly going to be a case of ‘listen to your body’ and you’ll know when you're ready to ease back in. Between now and then, I’ll just keep on running every day, so I have some miles ‘in the bank’ for the recovery. 

I really can’t wait and am so grateful that something is being done! 

Results day 👍

Following last weeks CT scan, it was back to see Alice again this morning for the results.

Over the past few weeks since the cancer lump was removed from my back I have started to feel things happening under the left armpit. While I was quietly optimistic, honestly in my heart of hearts I have to say that I had expected things to have progressed / spread. Anyway Catherine and I found out today that it hasn’t!😀

Amazingly the blood markers haven’t really changed at all and the CT scan itself shows no further spreads. Just the small cancer growths under the arm and mediastinum as was picked up before in the last scan.

Whilst the cancerous node under my armpit is something that I can now feel, it is actually no bigger. The even better news is that Alice is now of the view that as it appears to have some calcification attached to it, surgery is a real possibility. She is going to refer me to a new surgeon, Andy Pay (based out of both Oxford and Reading) who apparently specialises in this kind of treatment.

She is also going to refer me to another specialist at the Royal Marsden to explore the possibility of trials for later down the line.

All in all, I really couldn’t have asked for more from today. Knowing that we are actually going to do something makes such a difference...whilst I know the longer term prognosis is unlikely to change as the cancer is still there in the mediastinum and armpit, the fact that some of it maybe possible to remove is a result!

Running, as always, continues to be a massive factor in helping to keep me feeling both physically and mentally strong....nothing has really changed in that department since all this started nearly 7 years ago. I’m trying to stick to 10km a day which is just about possible (albeit with a few breather stops along the way for the lung to catch up 🤣).

I remaining eternally thankful to my entire support team for getting me to where I am now. A combination of Alice pulling the strings on the medical side, along with Catherine, my family and friends being there for me every single step makes it so much easier to get through....thank you all so much xx

Now bring on that surgical knife, I’m more than ready!!

Lump was cancer afterall

So, I had the lump removed a couple of weeks back now (1st July). Rather than going through my GP, it was agreed given my situation I should have a general anaesthetic so that the surgeon could get a clear margin just in case it turned out to be cancer……good job too as it turned out to indeed be cancer!:-) I was really pleased that the man for the job ended up being the same surgeon who did my very first bowel surgery.

It was great to see him and catch up after all this time….nearly 7 years ago now since we last spoke!...time fly’s. He was fully up to speed on my situation and was only too happy to take the lump out.

Alice let me know yesterday that the biopsy was cancer positive which I must say I was very surprised to hear, particularly given the fact that apparently the CT scan didn’t appear to suggest that it was anything to worry about.

Some strange feelings at the moment as I take in this news. Part of me thinks, well nothing really changes as its off now and I am back to where I was before in that the cancer now just sits slow growing in my mediastinum / left arm pit. I have to admit another part does wonder whether things are picking up a bit of pace now that the lump (which was arguably fairly fast growing) turned out to be cancer as well. I am probably wrong and it is the former

Truth is though I still feel exactly the same – really well! 😊 I am continuing to run daily and as odd as it was to experience, the day after the surgery when I did a 10k it was the first time in months where I didn’t need to stop for a breather – weird eh!…..I am putting it down to the pure oxygen which I assume was still in my system from the op as I cant imagine that general anaesthetic would help in that way🤣

So next steps are essentially exactly the same as before….I will have another CT / bloods in around Sept / Oct where we will see what (if anything) has changed.

We are off for a small family break down to Cornwall in a couple of weeks time....can’t wait!

Scan results

After the last update which was only 11 days ago a lot has happened....Alice managed to fast track the CT scan (in fact I got a call from the hospital on the afternoon of the 1st and had the scan on the 3rd...yet another positive NHS experience!)

The follow up results appointment was on Monday this the first thing to say was that the lump on my back doesn’t look to be cancerous after all....I will have a biopsy next week to be sure, but she is 99% that it will be benign. If so then I will speak to my GP and have it taken off.

In terms of the rest of the scan the two nodes that were picked up last time earlier this year are still there and now slightly bigger (both are under the armpit and the other in the metastinum). I am taking this as good news in that they are clearly very slow growing and so whilst I can’t say I am cancer free, at least this suggests that I still have some time.
I told her how I was feeling....strong both physically and mentally, which she was really pleased with. She remains sure that the running is hugely helping my body to keep everything at bay and if nothing else is helping my head to stay in a good place.

So, next steps are now another 4 months of ‘watch and wait’....I’ll have more bloods and scan around October and we’ll go from there.

All in all it’s been a good week and I really do remain incredibly positive that while the cancer remains slow growing something new may come up treatment wise which hasn’t been available before which could help kick this ‘into touch’ once and for all....long shot but you really never know. So for now onwards and upwards for what will hopefully be a lockdown free, sun filled, summer with the family!!

Latest Results

Hope everyone is well in these continuing mad times! – almost starting to become a bit ‘normal’ now I guess eh:-)

So today was the day I have been apprehensively waiting for as I got the results from the latest set of blood tests. Unfortunately, it has indeed confirmed that the cancer is back as the CA marker has risen to 80 (similar level to when it was last in my lung prior to the pneumonectomy). To be honest I shouldn’t really be that surprised as Alice was clear to tell me when we last spoke in February that it was very likely to be the case.

In the past few months, I have also developed a lump on my upper back (same side as where the lung was taken out) which initially I thought was a just a cyst / lipoma. I obviously mentioned this today to Alice and she was able to have a good look at (fortunately the appointment was face to face, having initially been booked as a phone call given Covid). To my surprise she thinks that this maybe something cancer related given the fact that it doesn’t feel to her like either a cyst or lipoma.

So next steps are now clear with a CT scan being booked in at some point over the next 2 weeks. This will give a clear view of where in my body the cancer is. There is a small part of me which wonders (and hopes) whether it is only in this lump on my back……if so then maybe there is a chance that this can be operated on...long shot but you never know. If, of course it is back in the area which Alice originally mentioned – in the mediastinum, then of course this is a different situation.

I have lots of thoughts running through my head at the moment with many questions….I can only really find out the answers to these after the scan. The option of joining a clinical trial is one which I still really hope maybe possible, however right now this isn't on the cards.

In terms of how I feel right now……really good and strong! I am continuing to work full time and run everyday (around 60k a week) which helps so much to keep my mind clear and focused on ‘the fight’😊. Catherine and the boys are, as always, doing what they do best and keeping everything as normal as possible....frankly I'd be lost without them! I consider myself very lucky to have them on my team x

What a Crazy Time!

I still can’t quite believe how much the world has changed in the past few weeks! It has really put my own predicament into perspective. Whilst I know I face a tough road ahead with a terminal cancer diagnosis, right now this feels very trivial when I think of the thousands of families up and down the country who have lost loved ones from this terrible virus.

Like nearly everyone I am working from home in this ‘new normal’. I’ve been advised to stay isolated from Catherine and the boy’s as best as I can. The hospital have said that whilst I am not ‘in treatment’ at the moment (chemo / radio), the fact that I have terminal cancer and one lung puts me at a higher risk than most. Anyway can’t complain and fortunately we converted our garage a few years back so I am shacked up in there at the moment!😂. Sounds much worse than it’s is really very comfortable with a lounge, bathroom and bedroom so all good. I am seeing Catherine and the boy’s every day in the garden which is great. Also managing to run every day (around 60k a week) which as always has been a godsend and really helped me stay focused and mentally strong

It’s difficult to know at the moment what will happen next month when I am meant to have my next blood test and appointment with Alice to see how much the cancer has developed...hopefully not a lot 🤣. I really do still continue to remain very optimistic about the future and cling on to the hope that maybe a clinical trial maybe something I can benefit from once the lockdown has past.

I hope everyone reading this is safe and healthy.

Cancer returns again

Catherine and I have just received the news we had both feared may happen. Following the CT scan I had a couple of weeks ago, Alice took us through the results this morning. Unfortunately the cancer is back again. This time in a place called the mediastinum, which is a place just behind where the left lung was. There is also something which has been picked up in the scan under my left armpit which they think maybe related as well (although too early to say at the moment).

In terms of treatment its not great news as surgery and ultimately possible cure is not an option. Whlie I am still feeling ok, Alice wants to hold off doing anything for the moment. At a point in time that we both agree, the idea being that I will have some chemo to try and keep the cancer growth at bay for as long as possible. Its really difficult to give me a timeline on what I have left, so for the moment I will just keep on living life and enjoying what time I have with Catherine and the boys.

Once I have given myself a couple of days to get my head around this news, I intend to get focus back on training for the London Marathon later in April.....not promising any quick times. Far from it as it is more likely to be a 'run, walk, run, walk' marathon this time. Still, it will be great to hopefully feel well enough to give it a shot....bring it on 🙂

All Clear!

With just over 3 months now to the lung surgery, I have been crossing my fingers that the latest CT scan (which I had last week) was clear. Catherine and I have just walked out from seeing Alice and am thrilled to say we’re all good!!...totally clear of any cancer traces with a blood marker which is completely within normal 3.

To get this news just before we head off on our much anticipated family holiday to Florida is just fantastic!....something to celebrate with the boys tonight for sure.

Whilst I will have a couple of appointment with the lung surgeon and heart consultant shortly, I expect nothing than a quick catch up chat.

Essentially that me now left alone for another 6 months when I am scanned once again.

On the running front, things are not quite as I would have liked in that it is taking some time for the remaining lung to take up the slack. That’s fine as long as I know in time it will ‘come’ and I can run without having to stop every 5 mins to catch my breath. I am in touch with a few others online who have lost a lung due to cancer...I’m hoping they can give me a bit of encouragement that it does get easier.

My sights remaining focused on London next year...plenty of time and now with the news that I am all clear it’s given me a reinvigorated sense of purpose!...bring it on!!

Have a great summer holiday everyone 👍☀️!!

Home at last!

Thrilled to report that after nearly 3 weeks, I managed to get myself home with the family yesterday!. After numerous scans / tests the CRP markers and temperature checks dropped to a level where they felt comfortable to let me leave. Whilst I am still on a number of drugs to keep things in check, the main thing is that I can do it all from the comfort of home:-).

The team at Royal Brompton were simply incredible and so unbelievably supportive - I cannot thank them enough!. The after-surgery care was second to none. Once again, I feel so privileged to live in this country, with the NHS there to save my life....literally. So often you hear bad press surrounding the NHS....frankly I just don't get it - every single person who I have been exposed to in the NHS is clearly there for all the right reasons and gives nothing but the best care they can because they want to. Amazing institution, amazing people!!

I am generally feeling really good. Getting used to breathing with only one lung is taking a bit of getting used to, however each day it feels better and better. I had a fantastic nights sleep last night in my own bed (12 hours! - cant remember the last time that happened). This afternoon I couldn't resist trying a small run....well I say run it was more of a plod, stop, plod, stop, plod, stop etc. Despite struggling with the breathing it really was so great to be outside taking in the fresh air and stretching the lung....the weather was perfect and it was yet another reminder of why its so great to be alive.

Being able to work from home during the day has been great and really helped to bring a bit of normality back. Focus now is getting as fit as I can and then properly returning back to the office and running again properly!.

Thankyou all so much for your continued support and kind words.....never unnoticed by Catherine and me.