Friday, 8 January 2016

The trial begins...!

This is just a quick update for those of you who haven't heard by other means!  And apologies to those who already know!

I got a phone call on Monday, confirming that all the test results from last week were fine and that I could begin the trial on Tuesday.  I must at this point tell you a funny little story.  I was telling a friend of mine all about the tests and she asked what they all were.  I told her they included bloods, urine, height, weight etc and said that it was hard to imagine what might prevent me from going ahead with the trial.  She was quiet for a moment, obviously considering this.  Then she said, "Maybe you're not tall enough!"  We had a giggle over that one!

Anyway, back to the serious stuff.  After some searching, we found the hôpital de jour (the part of the hospital used for what are called day-stays in the UK) where I was to have my treatment.  As usual, I was given a small room with en-suite facilities, a bed for me, an armchair that Danny declared inferior to the one he used when I stayed in after the biopsy, and another chair for our lovely Cancer Care Support lady. (We had asked her to come with us for this first cycle of treatment to help with any translation etc difficulties).

We were warned that the whole session would take four to five hours.  To begin with, my weight and height were checked (I suppose to check I was still tall enough!!!).  Evidently the product is made up to my specification by the pharmacy, only when they know I have been checked in and they have that information.  It takes about an hour for that to happen.  In the meantime, nurses amused themselves taking my blood pressure and temperature, fitting a cannula and taking blood samples.  When I asked if I could eat as I was hungry, they rustled me up a tray containing some bread, butter, jam, a tangerine, yoghurt and a cup of tea!  I was put on a saline drip and then given some intravenous medication to prevent allergic reaction to the treatment.  Eventually, the treatment drug (or placebo for all we know!) was given and I was told it would take about an hour to go through.  I actually dozed my way through that!  At some point Danny took himself off  to the café for something to eat and Carol settled herself into her book!

I then had to stay in for another hour or so while they took yet more blood and generally kept me under observation.  We eventually left the hospital around 7pm. The journey home was horrendous; not only was it dark by then - obviously - but it was pouring with really heavy rain.  How Danny was able to see, I just don't know.  This has made us realise that, in future we need to stay overnight!

So what happens now?  Well I have a timetable up to and including 16 February.  The treatment is given in what they call cycles at two weekly intervals so the next one is due on 19 January. However, they have booked me into a clinic on the 18th, to have an "implantable port" fitted.  This is really because they have so much trouble finding veins to  get blood and/or fit a cannula.  I end up being covered in bruises and it's far from pleasant!   So the port will be a permanent thing under my skin (I believe just below my collar bone) through which they can put stuff in and take stuff out!  If you want to read more about it, click here.  Of course they don't do things by half here, so before they fit the port, I must have a chest X-ray and all in all, it'll take three to four hours!  Afterwards, I'm to go to the hospital where I'll stay overnight and have Cycle 2 of my treatment the next day.  Cycle 3 is scheduled for 2 February and then two weeks later, on 16 February, I shall be "evaluated" and I'm already booked in for a scan on that day.  We are guessing that's a make or break day!  If there's no sign of improvement, I don't think I will have another treatment and I guess they'll consider what other options there are.

Still, for now, I'm not thinking of that or any other "what-might-be's".  We've organised a house-sitter for our next trip to Bordeaux and I have to find a hotel for Danny to stay in on the night of the 18th. I feel OK in myself, with just the usual discomfort I experience around my middle.  We are both fairly upbeat and just getting on with our lives!

Talking of which, it's time to go and feed all the animals!

I'll be keeping you posted!

À bientôt!

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Bonjour 2016!

Yes, here we are in a brand new year and 16 years on from all the hype of the Millennium - remember that?!

Danny and I had a quiet Christmas and despite making a traditional roast turkey dinner with all the usual trimmings, we didn't feel very festive.  The funny thing was that, the following day, when I made what is a traditional "day-after-Christmas" lunch for us, of slices of cold gammon with bubble & squeak topped with fried eggs, we both enjoyed that far more!  I had bought only a small gammon joint to cook this year and of all years, it went far too quickly!  Here's what it looked like when I took it out of the oven on Christmas can tell how small it is.  Usually my gammon would fill the tin!

We spent New Year's Eve with some friends and we had a lovely evening with them.  They put out a lovely buffet spread of food and I was able to nibble away at it quite easily!  For some time now, I have not been staying up very late and I wasn't sure if I would last until midnight.  But I managed it easily and we didn't get home until 1.30am!

I told you last time that I had appointments to see a cardiologist on Christmas Eve and at Bordeaux on 30 December.  So now I can tell you about them.  Everything was fine at the cardiologist and it seems there's no problem at all with my heart.  At Bordeaux, we went to the research department and I had various tests, including bloods, urine, blood pressure etc. Subject to these tests being okay (and I will get confirmation on Monday), I will start the trial on Tuesday.  A drawback of the trial is that only two out of three participants in the trial actually get the drug itself; the other one gets a placebo. (Neither the patients nor the hospital staff knows who is getting what).  I found this alarming and upsetting at first but now I've become used to the idea.   For one thing, the doctor told us that I would be having a scan in mid-February then two months after that.  If I am showing no signs of improvement, they will stop the treatment and consider something else.

I am so lucky in that so many people send me messages of support and positive thoughts.  From them I have managed to get my head around the whole thing now.  One of my nephews reminded me that it is pointless to worry about things I cannot control and that small comment really hit home this time. It is so true.  I cannot control what I will be given, how it might affect me or what the outcome might be.  On the other hand, I can control how I react towards my situation.  I can make the decision to take and enjoy each day as it comes.  From other messages I've been sent, I have also been reminded that none of us knows what is going to happen to us in the future.  Just because I have cancer doesn't mean I know any more than the next person what lies in store for me.  To put it into perspective, two presumably healthy people were shot and killed yesterday, on 1 January, as they enjoyed their Friday afternoon in a bar in Tel Aviv.  And I'm sure there were many others around the world who had no idea they wouldn't see beyond the first day of a new year.

I'm not saying that this won't be easier said than done or that there won't be times when I don't feel quite so upbeat but for now, I'm putting on my Super Roz outfit (well, metaphorically!) and I'm ready to face 2016!!!

Together with Danny, I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year.  I hope you all have happiness and peace. But most of all I wish you all Good Health.