We have done rather a lot since the last blog, but first the health thing. I finished the last series of chemo in July (over three months ago now) and have had monthly blood tests and reviews since then and more recently a full CT scan. The blood tests are to check on my liver function as well as everything else and two items on the list are important with regards to whether the secondaries are progressing in my liver. One is the bilirubin level and the other something called Aspartate Transamin (AST). Bilirubin should be less than 21 and AST should be between 4 and 37. My bilirubin has always been normal, but AST has at times been over 130. Immediately after my last chemo, all biochemistry results looked good and then two months later the dreaded AST had risen again. I was told that if the next blood test showed a rise I would need another CT scan to see what was happening and possibly more chemo. As this was in August and I was about to go to Italy on holiday, I didn't really want the news that I would need another dose of Chemo. However the next blood test showed the AST level had dropped and was now close to normal again so the sword of Damocles was lifted thank goodness. I was scheduled for the normal three monthly CT scan at the beginning of October with a review last week - hence leaving writing the blog till now.
CT scans are always a bit of an issue for me as one needs to drink 2 litres of water an hour before the Scan - bad enough for a middle aged bladder, but worse is to come. A contrast is needed to enhance various bits of the anatomy so that any abnormalities can be seen on the scan. The contrast is injected into the vein via a cannula - a thin tube threaded into the vein via a syringe type set up. Now if you have fat juicy veins that is not a problem, but if, like me, you have whimpy thin wriggly ones, it is a pain in the ass! The poor nurses try hard to get the thing in with 'just a sharp scratch'. (How I wish they would still say 'just a little prick' like they used to so we could all have a good laugh.) However, despite many attempts either they can't find a vein where the tube stays in or - like the last time - the tube stays in but when the contrast is flushed through the vein 'blows' and the liquid is then sub-cutaneous rather than venous - not to mention it bloody hurts! The result is that I have an 'unenhanced' scan which does not give as much information. I was waiting therefore to hear that I would need another CT scan when I went for the review last week.
The long awaited review came around last Monday. I was delighted to hear that the scan had enough information to show that the cancer is not spreading and showed in the words of my consultant 'stable disease compared to the previous scan'. Together with stable liver function tests, I am excused from any more treatment for at least three months - the next scan and review. Also will be having Ultrasound scans rather than CT scans as venous access is so difficult with me - phew, what a relief. Apparently for liver reviews ultrasound is fine.
So it is full speed ahead to the next holiday - We are going to Spain next Tuesday 1st November for a week. Becky's lovely boyfriend Tom has similarly lovely parents who have a property in the Mercia region of Spain (Calispari - I think it is called). They are letting us use it for a week of chill-out and discovery. The weather will be warmer than here - although in Kent here the sun is still shining. This will be the fourth holiday for me since July - well need to pack a few in now.
We went to Oban on the West coast of Scotland at the end of July for about 10 days. We were competing (yes you guessed it) in a multi-day orienteering event. Six days and I managed to compete in all competitions and did not come last in any. The last day nearly killed me though with almost 1,000 metre climb to get to the start. Views were fantastic from the kiddy heights of Ardchattan overlooking Loch Etive.We did some lovely sight seeing whilst there and indulged grandly on local crab and scallops. We were back for a week and then did the fund raising cycle I organised, Coast to Coast along Hadrian's Wall. We cycled 174 miles in 4 days. and raised over £1,000 for Hospice in the Weald. It was a wonderful experience - even more so on my 'speed assisted' bike with all the family for support. Sarah - oldest daughter, with her little bump at that time (now a much bigger bump), Tim her husband, Becky and Tom are all old hands at long distance cycling - they have all done various cycles across the breath (and length for Becky) of England before. Dave and I have cycled across Umbria several years ago, but that was pre the last lot of disease and treatment, so I was a bit worried I would not keep up. With my 'speed assisted' - okay electric then - bike I managed to keep going and even overtake the odd family member. The Pennine watershed was a bit of a challenge though - big hills they have up there. We stopped at B & B's en-route and visited Roman forts and artefacts - I will post some photos to prove we did it. Thanks everyone for supporting the charity by donating through Just giving. I think the site is still active for those that want to see the photos on the website. The web address is www.justgiving.com/anita.kingdon.
|All six of us wearing Hospice T Shirts on Day 3 not far from Birdoswald Roman Fort|
|A photocall at the highest point on the cycle, Day 3 Just after Bardon Mill|
|Can you see the bump - on Sarah not me!|
|Holiday in Sorento - Me in wig|
|Holiday in Sorento - Me without wig|
|Bit of shopping in Sorento - No wig, just hat. It was sooo hot!|