Walk on the Wild Side – Blog 24

Only went and did half a mile too much

Today was always going to be an important day in 2015. My parents are celebrating their 40th wedding Anniversary and as a result I had decided to enter the Nottingham Robin Hood Half Marathon in commemoration of my Dad’s ongoing battle with Lung Cancer and the great love and support my mum has shown him, especially over the last few months.

Best laid plans though, David & I find ourselves in Spain instead of Nottingham so instead of doing the Robin Hood Half Marathon I instead decided to run it here on my own. Fortunately for me I have a very loving partner and David has stepped in to do this with me. At this stage I might have to call him a fool though with how the route would pan out…..

The route I had decided upon was based upon the Río Anllóns walk – a river/forest walk close to our house. The extra distance being made up by walking to and from the house itself. David was fully on-board though and the route looked incredible and we were sure we’d see some great sights. The problem being though we had now turned the Half Marathon into a ‘Half Marathon Cross Country Obstacle Hike’! I can tell you now it felt more like we had done a full marathon by the end of the half marathon challenge.

It all started really well along a forest track by the river with some spectacular views. The terrain started to change somewhat though once we had crossed over the Bridge at Caldas. We headed down what seemed like a pleasant woodland path only to be hit with a rocky muddy path with trees that had toppled just to make the course that little bit more challenging.

Nevertheless though we had our determined heads on and carried on along the path. After a while it settled down, though not for long. We started to find ourselves trekking through brambles and weeds that were waist high. Not the challenge we had anticipated but for some reason it almost added to the experience. Every so often I think we gave each other a knowing look of “what the…” but both knew that we had to simply carry on, if not for the wonderful sights that were up ahead but for my Dad.

Here are just a few of the pics we took along the route. One of my favourite is the bridge picture. You’ll notice at the end of it the tree had collapsed making getting over it that little more ‘exciting’. We particularly found jumping over small ravines and clambering under bridges that we almost had to crawl through quite funny yet tough at the same time. There was also elements of the challenge when we were walking on a path no wider than 15cm right at the side of the river that we thought it was going to become a very wet and sorrowful affair. Fortunately though we managed to get away unscathed.

Otis the Otter

Waterfall  Dont Fall Free Corn  ToadStool Bridgend   What Path

One of the most exciting parts of the challenge was when we managed to catch a glimpse of one of the Otters that are meant to live along the river. It’s one of those moments that you just don’t think will happen. You read it on a tourist sign with them saying the types of wildlife that can be found in the area such as birds, Otters etc… but you never think you will see one. Naturally we grabbed for the camera and got the best shot we could before it disappeared into the river. At this stage it’s probably worth noting the location of the Otter was along a section of the route that we should not have been on due to taking a wrong turn. Let’s just say that a little ingenuity AKA Google Maps helped set us back on the right path. Thank god for a good GPS signal.

Another fun part that Bear Grylls would have been proud of was our take on exercise food. Instead of taking a host of energy drinks and chocolate bars with us we decided that we would take a couple of cans of beer and see how things went. As it goes we managed to find quite a bit of free food on route including Corn on the Cob, Blackberries and Chestnuts. Maybe not the food of champions but all quite nice and free. (Not sure the farmer would have been happy with the missing corn but that’s life).

It’s probably worth noting that the temperature here at present is floating around 28-31c. Not exactly a nice temperature to be lost in the woods in but the shaded areas by the river did protect us from becoming too burned.

At one point during the challenge and on a stretch where we were back in civilisation a farmer even approached us and asked if we were Perdido. (Lost). We weren’t lost though did take the opportunity to verify the map route we were taking seemed correct to him. No harm in checking….

We eventually arrived home a number of hours later and having covered 13.62 miles (half a mile too much) are both seemingly in good health. The brambles have left their marks on our ankles, legs and knees and speaking of knees, I’m pleased to say I can still walk. This isn’t to say that my right knee doesn’t feel like it’s had a sledge hammer chucked at it but we have survived.

I’d like to thank all of those that had sponsored so far. I was never in this to raise mega bucks though every penny helps as they say and Cancer Research UK are a charity I am proud to support and will continue to support. The fund raising page will remain open as this is only Challenge 1.

https://www.justgiving.com/Robert-TheBob-Garratt

I’d like to wish my parents a wonderful 40th Wedding Anniversary. We love you very much and whilst we may not have sent you a card, I hope our accomplishment today goes a long way to show you how much we care and how you are always in our thoughts and in our hearts.

Concomitant Chemoradiation – Blog 23

Keep Calm and Beam on

For what has seemed like an eternity we now finally have news as to when the next chapter in my Dads ongoing battle begins. Granted it’s not actually been that long but when you feel like your entire life is on hold, anything longer than a day seems like an age.

Having received the call this morning, the hospital has confirmed that the Radiotherapy will start tomorrow! This is all well and good in practice and I think it’s great that they are moving the treatment along but my Dad still has his final chemo session planned for next Wed-Fri. This will still happen but will now mean an immensely tough week ahead.

Least they have tomorrow, Friday, Monday & Tuesday to get used to the drive to Alzira and exactly what to expect. The Radiotherapy sessions should each last just 15 minutes but the time spent at the hospital could be much longer with the whole checking in, getting undressed and waiting process they will go through each time.

Next Wed-Fri though will now involve Chemo happening in the morning at the Xativa hospital and then Radiotherapy happening in the afternoon/early evening at Alzira hospital. One could argue it’s a shame the treatment can’t be offered at the same hospital yet at the same time the fact they are giving my dad a chance of life, the distance to travel between each hospital is truly insignificant.

Giving the two types of treatment together is known as Concomitant Chemoradiation. The Positive of this is that they usually only combine the treatment if the patient is quite fit. The Negative though is that the side effects can be more intense.

At the end of the day though, he is coping well and if it does knock him down, from what I have already seen, he certainly has it in him to see through this new 5 week treatment schedule and come out the other side with a smile on his face.

T-Minus 4days- Sponsorship Link- https://www.justgiving.com/Robert-TheBob-Garratt

When is a blog not a blog – Blog 22

Marathon

Well it’s not that it’s not a blog but it’s my first truly direct request for sponsorship.

Sponsorship Link- https://www.justgiving.com/Robert-TheBob-Garratt

When my Dad (‘The’ Bob Garratt) was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in June, everything changed for my family. Unfortunately Lung Cancer is usually found too late, such is the case with my Dad. I feel my family are blessed though as the diagnosis brings the ability for us all to make the most of the precious time we have left.

Part of my own coping mechanism has been to keep all our friends and family up to date on how my Dad is doing via the blog site. Another side of my coping mechanism is to push my own limits and do some events building upon the strength my Dad has shown during his ongoing battle.

Therefore on September 27th (the day of my Parents 40th wedding anniversary) I will be running a half marathon in commemoration of my Dad’s strength, his humour and the sheer determination and grit he has shown in battling on.

Whilst a half marathon is only 13.1 miles or more aptly 21.1 km this is not going to be easy. I have completed marathons in the past; only the last time I ran was in Paris in 2009 and I pretty much knackered my knees due to poor training. I have often struggled to run more than 3 miles of late without the knee injury reminding me of the pain it can cause. However, I know my body’s strengths and weaknesses and know that I can achieve my goal. Even if I have to crawl I will go the distance in honour of the man I admire and look up to so much.

I can’t do this without your support though. Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research. Please please visit my justgiving page and sponsor as little or as much as you can. I’m not asking for millions but that would be nice…

Sponsorship Link- https://www.justgiving.com/Robert-TheBob-Garratt

P.S. I will be running the Marathon on the day of the Nottingham Robin Hood half Marathon. However, I will be doing my run alone in Cabana De Bergantinos, Spain as I am unable to be in the UK on this day. I have my official Race Number for the marathon and will be sporting this on the day. Not sure what the locals will think but then again being the ‘only English in the village’ allows us to stand out anyway so running a 1 entrant half marathon will just add to the weirdness.

Thanks in advance for your support.

Sponsorship Link- https://www.justgiving.com/Robert-TheBob-Garratt

Radiotimes – Blog 21

Radio Times

So we have an update regards the radiotherapy treatment my dad is due to receive. They have had the first consultation and a second is due to take place on Monday 14th which in turn will then give us a date for when my dad can start the next stage of his ongoing treatment.

I guess the first thing to reiterate at this point, as it is something the doctors have said, is that it is not a cure. The treatment is designed to give my dad more time and hold the cancer back. Having asked, the doctor did say that whilst the radiotherapy is not a cure, it is worth having.

It’s great news that the chemotherapy has shrunk the cancer significantly and that the radiotherapy option is now possible. As ever though there will be side effects to deal with. Some of which my dad has already incurred such as hair loss, tiredness and irritability.

Sickness could make a comeback and skin irritation is likely to occur which is strange as the chemo almost cured him of his psoriasis whereas the radiotherapy may well cause him to have itchy skin and rashes. So deodorants, perfumes, aftershaves and soaps are all off the list of things allowed; to be replaced with very carefully selected creams.

The main side effect though, which the doctors say will happen as a result of the intense treatment, is the shrinking of the oesophagus. In essence the rays that are designed to attack the cancer will affect the nodes that run between the lungs and oesophagus. As a result my dad will have to eat tepid food and drink only. The food will also need to be blended as eating solids will be difficult. On top of this, the food must be bland so no spices or anything exciting that may just add some flavour.

One final thing that may happen is that he will cough up blood at times.

I guess it’s all down to how well my dad responds as to the intensity of some of the side effects he will suffer from. You can understand why some people opt not to have treatment as side effects can be severe; returning us back to the ongoing consideration of ‘Quality of life vs Longevity’.

On Monday’s second consultation a full body x-ray will be carried out which will assist the doctors in attacking the cancer in the best way possible. The treatment is due to last for 5 days each week for 5 weeks in total. This will, no doubt take its toll on my family. Alan and Mum are doing a terrific job looking after my dad but if it hasn’t been stressful already then these 5 weeks are going to be tough on all of them. The hospital is realistically a 50 minute drive away. This drive will be done twice a day, 5 times a week for 5 weeks.

It’s a long way to travel, especially considering the heat is still going strong in south Spain, albeit it has relented slightly. There is then the parking to consider as the treatment will be held at Alzira hospital which is HUGE. Each treatment will last for about 15 minutes only which is annoying considering the journey time, plus there could be up to a 2 hours wait each time depending on how many patients are scheduled in each day for treatment. So it’s difficult to really predict how each day will look at this stage. I know they will be looking forward to the weekends though.

It’s also tough for my mum as I know she has been looking forward to the 27th September as this is the day they will celebrate 40 years as husband and wife. She is also missing her family and friends a lot. The support means more than people may realise. Being in a foreign country no matter how excellent the medical care is doesn’t always compensate for the proximity of a friend or ability to have a quick natter over the fence with someone you know and who cares about you.

As soon as I know when the treatment is due to start I will let you know. Monday’s consultation is just to assess the stage we are at and help the doctors target the cancer in the best way possible. It is not the start of the 5 week treatment process. I would guess it will start towards the beginning of October once the final Chemo session is done; I may be wrong though. They may decide to just drop the final session and hit him with this instead. Who knows….

A classic for those in the know
A classic for those in the know

Exotic Marigolds – Blog 20

Three Amigos

Seeing my dad over the last couple of weeks was good. Admittedly when we first arrived it was a little bit of a shock as I did feel that he looked quite unwell. We have to remember though that we had arrived only 48 hours after his fourth chemo session had finished.

The pattern has become fairly regular now and he tends to feel a little out of sorts for up to 5 days after each chemo session finishes. This doesn’t mean he is bed bound or anything; it just tends to mean he has to take it even easier than normal. The one thing I witnessed though is that he understands this and didn’t rush any family days out too soon thus meaning that when he was ready to go out and about he knew he was properly up for it.

There was an additional side effect this time though and my dad ended up getting a cold. My dad doesn’t get colds. Both in the sense that he hasn’t really ever had one nor does he really understand what one is. The cold is just a reaction to the course of injections he has to have after each Chemo session.

This is the first time though he has had this reaction and is some respects it was quite comical in a gross kind of way. Basically the worse thing he had was a blocked nose. The problem was he doesn’t know how to deal with a blocked nose. Blowing his nose would have mostly eased the situation. Instead he chose the ‘snort it up’ option. So every other 5 minutes there would be a high heels being scrapped through a pile of gravel sound coming from wherever my dad was currently located. This worked well as you always knew where he was though at the same time, the noise even now has not left me. The generating phlegm at the back of your throat noise was the worst though….

Fortunately this didn’t dampen his spirits too much during our stay and we had some lovely days out of which I have included a few of the pics.

Abbey Road Denia Seaside Guadalest What the Heck.

The most poignant moment of this little venture though came when my Dad, David & I watched the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

The films are very funny and have some very none politically correct moments in them which suits my Dad’s humour. There was a more serious side to the films though which without giving away any of the plot involves a group of old people going to a hotel where perhaps they will live out their final days. Watching this with a person who is looking down the barrel did feel a little strange though the three of us watched the films over a couple of nights and for some reason it just felt like the right film to have watched. Personally I just enjoyed spending a few hours with my dad; laughing and I guess all just feeling a little sentimental without over showing it.

After the second film had finished, my dad showed his first sign of truly beginning to accept what is happening to him. He did say that ‘no matter the outcome, he wasn’t going without a fight’. This ended our stay at the house in quite an uplifting manner. This time when we left last Thursday I didn’t feel worried, I wasn’t too concerned and just felt that I would see him again.

Since leaving for North Spain I have spoken to my mum and things seem to be ticking along nicely and somehow, Chemo Session FIVE is due to start on Wednesday 9th. This is the penultimate session with the last one currently scheduled for September 30th. We are still awaiting news on the Radiotherapy treatment and if this will be a suitable option. I promise though as soon as I know what is happening, I will let you all know.