Stuart vs Cancer # Part 01

My reasons for starting a Blog are twofold:

1/ Shortly after my initial diagnosis I inevitably turned to the internet in an attempt to find further information on my condition + ended up punching in an array of search words. It however didn’t take long for me to realize that unfortunately there really is a plethora of information + disinformation located in cyberspace – to this extent I will document my journey in the hope that – perhaps > just perhaps, someone finding themselves in the same / similar circumstances / predicament might just be able to gain some usefull info.

2/ It also allows me to deliver the message to multiple friends and family instead of one on one – which in itself can be quite time consuming.

Using the Blog format allows the reader to visit and return at will digesting at their own speed the information that they encounter.

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22nd January 2018

Update as follows……..

I met with the team to review the PET scan results which was not a heap of good news.

Bottom line is I am being admitted to hospital in the morning as I have a very low white bloods cell count and more than likely will receive a blood transfusion to counter this.

The cancer is still evident in my chest cavity and has also now appeared in a node in my right arm

Once again the right lung is showing a large pleural effusion – which has to be drained as I am struggling to breath because of this

I am also struggling to swallow – and the scan shows that this is mainly due to a mass-pushing from within the neck region – they are hoping to widen the opening with an endoscope and ballon to apply pressure to widen the narrowing or perhaps even a stent – but the latter might be a tad difficult as my esophagus has been removed and placing a stent too close to the gastric join might cause complications – remember when my esophagus was removed my stomach was pulled up into the chest and attached in the neck region

Moving forward they have to treat the above listed signs and symptoms in the hope of making me comfortable in order that I can build up the required strength / body mass so that I can continue the fight

In my current condition they cannot give me any further radiation or chemotherapy

21st January 2018

It’s amazing how one can preach advice and yet fail to adhere to the same very information

It is so very important to try and get out the house 🏡 when on treatment/ just taking small steps – these same very small steps have the same effect on the body as a mini workout (especially when one is in what can be considered a frail state)

So what happened was that a good mate of mine pitched up and bundled me into his car 🚗 and we went off down to the 🏖

Lo and behold there was surf lifesaving competition on the go and seeing that we are both ex surf 🏄‍♀️ lifeguards – it was nice to cheer on our-mates

Me and the legend Dawid Mocke

It was also welcome respite taking my mind off the looming upcoming PET scan results which are only being released when I see my oncologist tomorrow at 14h00

13th Jan 2018

I had to LOG IN after being reminded by a friend that I haven’t updated my BLOG for a month ……… OK truth be told more than 1 friend kinda dropped the hint ……… surely not I said …….. LOG IN I did > only to see that they were all spot on

Well what can I say – so much has happened over the past month

One of the most noticeable being that the current pain meds that I was on – appeared to be losing their effectiveness. I was admitted into hospital so that we could determine

A/ What is causing the pain

B/ We could determine an appropriate level of pain medication as until one has experienced this particular bone numbing/ sinew excruciating/ nerve pulsating type of pain we are referring to it’s hard to explain it – what we are talking about…….. but I can assure you it’s the worst pain I have felt in 49 years on this 🌍

A CTScan quickly determined that the masses that we had previously tagged as sources of concern situated in the chest cavity and also those that had attached to the lymph node in my chest and also attached to the neck had grown and were obviously somehow involved…………….

Good news however -as a bit of research conducted had also revealed that the previous radiation areas are away from the current markers – it was therefore decided to set off on. A 10 day regime immediately whilst we were waiting for the chemotherapy days to count themselves down radiate / nuke the bastards (let’s not waste no time)

I mentioned counting down and for the benefit of those that need reminding – this would be referring to the chemotherapy Cycles (2 days of infusions follows by 21 days of nothing and then repeat) …….. the train of thought is to have radiation during. The waiting days – well too late now we are already on day 08/10 of Radiation

We officially finish waiting period for cycle 3 chemo on the 16th

As a matter of fact the the last 2 days Radiation is to be concluded on the 14th + 15th

The final PET Scan is now set to be carried out on the 19th – this is where they light me up with a radioactive sugary based dye From an isotope – what this does is that it lights All cancer masses in the vicinity

So the countdown has begun in various respects – here’s hoping for the best

12th December 2017

Thank you for all the messages of support from around the 🌍

During my travels over the years I think I had underestimated the network that I have built up during my intrepid travels.

It is that time of the year and many of you are already on vacation / days off – and some have even enquired about hooking up for a good meal and obligatory bottle of the best that the Cape vineyards have to offer.

Unfortunately I have what can be considered off the grid for the last week since my last set of chemotherapy infusions ……

We have also been struggling to get a grip on my pain management – and as such have been re-admitted and am currently on morphine infusions

So for now keep the messages coming – I will endeavor to answer in a timely fashion

But more importantly stay safe over the festive season

Breaking my own Rules 05th Dec 2017

Rule number one always have a plan ….

Rule number two – stick to the plan ….

However if Rule number one isn’t working – STOP 🛑 – reassess and tweak the plan accordingly

In this instance I am referring to pain management – my team and I had a pretty watertight plan / system in place ….. but unfortunately my Cancer is spreading and as such hitting new 🎯 targets in turn wrapping its claws around new pain sensors and nodules.

Suffice to say since departing hospital and going home 🏡 over the weekend – I merely took the pain meds and decided to weather the storm ☔️ – hiding below decks.

Unfortunately my family sometimes places too much faith in my ability to make the right call and forgetting that sometimes these calls might need some reconsidering especially when ones judgment is clouded by said pain and lack of 💤 😴 sleep and in the absence Of professional medical staff monitoring you in hospital …… I slipped into a dark abyss.

Luckily this was only for 2 days as my scheduled dictated that I return back to Oncology to commence another cycle yesterday

As is the norm prior to getting hooked up the team sits together and we take stock of where are we – I realized how bad it was when this consult came to an immediate halt and I was promptly given Morphine injections to bring me back to a haze free sense of reality.

My pain treatment plan was re-evaluated and revised accordingly and then we moved onto the chemotherapy infusions.

By the end of the day – I was physically and mentally drained – but we once again had a functional plan in place and I slept 🛏 like a log

It’s the small things in life – that count

01st December 2017

Just a quick shout out to my support group of family + friends ….

I have been discharged [paroled]from Vincent Pallotti hospital and sent home with a smaller vacuum packed chest drain for the weekend

Will be reporting bright eyed 👁 and bushy tail on Monday 04th morning for the recommencement of my 2 day chemotherapy-top up

Ya”ll have yourselves a good weekend now 🤠🍷🍷

28th November 2017

It took me 47 years until I received my 1st chest drain…… by the time I was 49 years and some change ……I had already chalked up a grand sum of three. As such I consider myself to be somewhat of a veteran – having had them gain access to the chest cavity / pleural space through the left chest wall / right chest wall and now the latest one through the right anterior pectoral chest space.

There is nothing glamorous about them – in fact they are primitive and medieval…… but THEY WORK and anybody who has gone through the process will nod in agreement.

The main reason why they are indicated is to relieve pressure – whether it be from fluid or air – and the benefits are instantaneous.

It’s amazing how we take things for granted – being able to breath without thinking about it being a prime example ….. and it doesn’t take very long for the stark reality to set in once this luxury becomes labored as a result of ones lung collapsing.

So here I am 5 days later and the follow up X Ray looks good and everything is coming along nicely …… I am still in hospital and will be for the immediate future as we are waiting for the flow-rate of fluid draining out of pleural space to diminish somewhat

We also have the next round of chemotherapy coming up …… scheduled for the 4th Dec- – updates to follow🤠

23rd November 2017

As per the above – we once again have fluid buildup in the pleural space of the right lung …. pretty uncomfortable needless to say and a bit of a setback – but then again …. all we can do is roll with the punches

Back to Vincent Pallotti hospital – so my favorite surgeon can put in another chest drain

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