Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Latest news and Christmas wishes

I have always believed that everything happens for a reason.  And I honestly believe that our decision to move to France was because it has put us in the best possible place as far as healthcare is concerned.

Let me tell you about Danny first.  I told you last time that Danny had been suffering from a sore throat for some weeks and that after a second visit to our GP, he was being referred to a specialist and for an ultrasound.  Here then, as testament to the amazing healthcare we have in France, is the timeline of events -

24 November - Initial visit to GP
7 December - Second visit to GP
14 December - Danny saw the ENT specialist who could not find anything untoward but wanted to do a fibroscopy (tube inserted into the nostril and down the throat!)
18 December- Fibroscopy carried out and nothing untoward found
23 December - Ultrasound confirmed no lesions - the thing we were scared of!

The ENT specialist believes Danny may have some acid reflux - possibly caused by stress.  We then told him my situation at which he threw his arms theatrically into the air in an expression that clearly meant "Well! What do you expect? Of course you're stressed!"

As to my own situation, there is good news there too.  I heard yesterday from Bordeaux hospital that I have an appointment there next Wednesday, 30 December. While I won't be seeing the Professor on that day, it seems that I will be taking part in a clinical trial, subject to a general health check which is the purpose of next week's appointment.  I also have to see a cardiologist, for which an appointment has already been arranged for tomorrow! (Thankfully, that will be in a clinic nearer to home!) For those of you who like to read up on things, the trial is of a drug called ramucirumab and you can find out a bit about it by clicking here.  (The more diligent among you may be prepared to dig deeper and find more!)  I get the impression that this drug (which is given intravenously) has been approved for some cancers and that they are trialling it now on my type of liver cancer.  Of course with my very poor grasp of anything remotely scientific, I may be totally wrong!  Anyway, I believe the aim is for me to start the trial early in January.  Let's hope it's a positive start to 2016!

As was the situation when I last posted, we haven't been doing anything much but I did meet up with some lovely friends for a wonderful lunch yesterday.  We each took a plate of food so we had a marvellous selection of different foods - including a red cabbage cake which was incredibly and unexpectedly delicious!  I chose to go for simplicity and made this.....

It's based on a Jamie Oliver recipe and was just slices of smoked salmon on toasted baguette, topped with crème fraîche mixed with horseradish, then sprinkled with dill.  Incredibly simple but really tasty!

Well, that's it for now!  This will be my last post before Christmas so I'll take the opportunity of wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!  And for those of you who don't celebrate Christmas, well, enjoy the next few days anyway! (I myself celebrated the Winter Solstice yesterday!!!)

Love & Peace to you all

Sunday, 13 December 2015

An emotional roller-coaster!

The title of this update describes what our lives have become!

I haven't updated the blog lately, partly for that reason but also because Danny and/or I have been trying to keep as many people up to speed as we can by using Facebook or emails.  But I do know that there are many of you who rely on this blog to know what's going on so I decided to write this post today to let those people know.

I'm afraid that I have nothing to tell you about what we've been doing because all we've been doing is trying to keep on top of the regular "chores" of running the house, shopping, cooking, cleaning, chopping wood etc. And none of that is very interesting to read about, never mind write about!

Our lives - and the emotional roller-coaster we're on - have become totally centered on health problems.  So, for those of you who don't already know the situation, here is as brief an update as I can manage......

You may recall that back in October, I had another CT scan which showed that the cancer cells had started to die but that the tumour wasn't shrinking.  The oncologist told me that it could take "several months" to shrink.  Nothing but nothing prepared me for what he told me four weeks later when I went to see him on 18 November.  He said that the drug I had been taking (called Nexavar) was no longer working efficiently and I should stop taking it immediately.  When I asked what was to happen now, he told me there was nothing else they could give me.  It was totally unexpected and it was like a massive slap in the face.  I just dissolved in tears, trying to take this in.

He then said that he would now discuss my case with colleagues in other hospitals to see if they could offer any drugs, currently being trialled - what we call "clinical trials" in the UK.

To cut a long story short(er), a few days later I got a call from Bordeaux hospital with an appointment to see a Professor Blanc there.  It turns out that he is the chief of their gastroenterology department there and he is responsible for drug research for things like liver cancer.  We spent about an hour with him and a doctor from the research department and the upshot was that he wanted a new biopsy and CT scan.  He told us that there are different types of liver cancer and the new biopsy would tell him precisely what type I have.  Even more promising is that he said he had "three or four possible treatments" to choose from, depending on the type of cancer it turns out to be.

This week I had the new biopsy and scan and as I write, I am back in limbo-land, waiting to hear the results and what they will mean for me.  I am doing my best to put the whole thing to one side of my mind but of course, every so often, a stray thought snakes its way into my head!

For those of you interested, this is a link to the hospital's web site and if you look in the list of Médecins on the left hand side, you should be able to find Professor Blanc listed there.

So, that is an update of the facts.  There are positives...In a general way, I feel more confident with the Professor looking after my case.  He told me that my liver is otherwise healthy (primary liver cancer normally occurs in people who have cirrhosis and I haven't) and he seemed to suggest that there would be a drug suitable.  We have to keep our feet on the ground though - any drug I may be given is only in a trial stage and as much as I tell myself that all drugs were trialled at some point in their existence, it is very hard not to wonder about the future.

Now on top of all that, we have another worry!  Danny has had a sore throat for several weeks and despite a bag full of medicines prescribed by our GP, it refuses to go away.  Now the GP has referred him for an ultrasound and to see an Ears, Nose and Throat specialist.  We are waiting to hear when he will see the specialist but he is having the ultrasound on 23 December.  I'm sure I don't need to tell you that we are both feeling rather nervous - even while we try to convince ourselves that it is 'only' a sore throat.

Having now brought you up to date, I shall endeavour to do so more regularly again and I apologise for keeping many of you in the dark.

I'm going to leave you with a picture that one of my friends put together for me.  How she did it, I have no idea but she was inspired to do so when I used the expression "Ah well, onwards and upwards" in a conversation we had.  I think it's fabulous and it always makes me smile to see it!

So from "Super Roz", until next time, à bientôt!