The most recent two chemotherapy sessions have gone without a hitch. The most noticeable side effects of the Avastin and Capecitabine for me, have been diarrhoea, constipation, fatigue, thinning hair, and peeling and cracking skin on the hands, particularly affecting the fingertips. Apart from these aspects, I have found these treatments far less invasive than all other chemotherapy treatments I have undergone in the past, and have found them the easiest to cope with.
I have been undergoing chemotherapy treatment and surgery, on and off, for six and a half years, from when I was diagnosed with Stage four advanced rectal cancer, with secondary metastases covering the liver and metastases in the lungs also, in 2009. My story is proof that you may be able to overcome all obstacles by undergoing the treatment and surgery that is offered, and live beyond all expectations of the medical profession. So it gives out a very strong message that sometimes we can overcome the seemingly impossible. On diagnosis, my oncologist wrote in my medical notes that treating me was probably a very long shot and did not expect a good outcome.
Recently the oncologist smiled and commented on examining me, saying that I still had a lot of good parts left in me! He has always recognised that I am fairly fit and that this has been great advantage to me in undergoing the treatments I have. I do not have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol that a lot of people my age may have already developed. It is really important to be as fit as possible in every way you can, when you have cancer. I really believe in cooking from scratch, with fresh basic foods, and not continually depending on supermarket ready meals and junk food all of the time, keeps the weight off and really aids health and gives us the strength and energy to help us through the treatments.
I told the oncologist that I was attending a Bowel Cancer Patient Day in London in April. He asked me whether I was speaking at it. I laughed. Well I must have impressed him over the years, particularly when I was first diagnosed, as I told him I had been consulting the GP for ten and a half months with diarrhoea, constipation and haemorrhoids, then bad indigestion, and was only considered for an investigation when I insisted. I have given him “earache” on many occasions about late diagnosis and how it affects a patients` chances of survival. I have regaled him with similar tales observed from conversations with other bowel cancer patients in waiting rooms and whilst having chemotherapy. He is quite well aware of the aspect of late diagnosis and misdiagnosis of bowel cancer, indeed he is the one who picks up the pieces and tries to stick us back together. He understands my commitment to raising awareness of the early signs and symptoms of bowel cancer but I am but a little fish in a big pond and it appears to me the message of the need for rigorous investigations by the GP when first presented with such symptoms, is still not getting instigated all of the time I asked the oncologist what the possibility of me being able to have an operation on my femur, which I broke, when I fell on my hip replacement in May 2014. I had three fractures, but one of them did not heal properly. This has been very disabling for me, and I do have difficulty with walking and general mobility around the hip. The oncologist advised that surgery cannot take place whilst undergoing chemotherapy. He said that to consider surgery I would need to have a break of several weeks from it, then have the operation and then wait for another several weeks before chemotherapy can continue. This is because the wounds would not heal properly because of the effects of the chemo. I notice that a cut on my skin takes a long time to heal, when on chemotherapy. So my next “project” is to determine whether an operation for a bone implant can take place. I have two more chemotherapy sessions then a scan to see how well the chemo has worked on the tumours situated on the bile duct and in the lungs. The oncologist always guides me on possibilities. I might be in with a chance of corrective surgery or not. However, whatever the outcome, I will continue enjoying my life to the fullest it can be. I always say that there are people in wheelchairs, and people that are bedridden. So on we go, achieving what we can with our physical limitations. Onwards and Upwards!