We returned to Valencia yesterday and planned to meet up with the family in Alzira for an hour or so before going to the hospital for my Dads Radiotherapy session which fortunately for us had been moved to seemingly fall in line with our flight time. I say fortunately as it meant we were present for the consultation that had also been scheduled in for the same day; the first proper one since the Radiotherapy sessions started over 3 weeks ago.
Everyone looked well, especially my Dad which was good to say. He is taking to this treatment thing incredibly well, despite the lengthy journeys 5 days a week and the threat of a million side effects always looming in the background. Impressively the main side effect is still just him feeling tired every so often. At the end of the day he’s no longer a spring chicken (sorry Dad), and so a little more frequent tiredness was always going to catch up with him at some point.
To gain confidence myself I asked him how he was truly doing and he said he is having no issues eating, no pains in the Oesophagus area; which was a highly likely side effect area and so other than avoiding spicy foods which is recommended, all meal times still look ‘normal’ and are not being mashed down for him. His hair is still very thin, though there are some very slight signs of regrowth but I wouldn’t be booking a hair appointment at this stage and the Psoriasis I mentioned before is still cured – something my Dad does wander if the medical profession should investigate more. In his mind one or more of the fluids he received in Chemo cured this fully. Something the endless creams he had previously been prescribed have been unable to control. Food for thought I guess. Away from this there is some expected redness to the skin on his chest but he is applying the cream designed for that as required which is working and things are simply plodding on nicely.
Alzira is a much bigger hospital. I guess on this occasion it brought it home just how prevalent cancer is. Last week I mentioned seeing Cancer everywhere but being in the hospital on this occasion just felt different. I went to the waiting area for those due to receive Radiotherapy. The room was FULL. Sessions only last for anything up to 10 minutes and patients were changing frequently. I also observed the waiting area for those due to see the doctor for an update. Again the room was full with yet another set of patients. This is just one hospital in the world and so many people are going through their own battles and challenges. Cancer is often seen as the ‘Big C’ and the one illness people fear. I can more than understand why. The amount of lives it touches, steals and hinders is mammoth. Much more than I think I personally appreciated before.
Even I know personally at least 5 people now facing their own challenges or having brushes with potential Cancer scares including Lung, Skin, Throat and Breast Cancers. There simply seems like no escape.
That’s why I like Cancer Research UK so much. They want to eradicate Cancer by understanding the causes not just by providing the treatment. Take away the source and understand its origins and perhaps one day we truly can beat Cancer. Unfortunately it just seems a long way off but for all those doctors, nurses and people looking to fight it then I have nothing but praise.
Back to my Dad and his Radiotherapy treatment seemed to pass by in a blink of an eye. It truly is that quick! He has some dots marked out on his chest that will never fade away. He tells me they are like tattoos in some respect and will always now be there. (They are only pen nib size). The machine uses these to help target the rays to the areas needed to help fight back the cancer. It repeats just 4 times for about 7 seconds each time. It takes longer for him to get prepared than for the treatment itself.
He comes out in good spirits and I even heard him once again chatting up one of the nurses when he thought no one could hear him…. The word ‘Quapa’ is used to tell the nurse how beautiful she is. Bob ‘the smoothie’ Garratt has returned.
Next when we attend the doctor’s appointment further down the corridor it’s a mixed review. He has gained 0.2kg. Yeah, I know this is minimal but a few weeks ago he was worried about losing weight. It is stable at least with a minor increase which the Doctor seems happy with. She also asks about how things are in general and all is promising and she looks happy. Overall she is happy with how he is coping. There is no news about the size of the cancer though – this will only become known later in December after the treatment is complete.
One thing that is clarified though, is that after the Radiotherapy is complete (10 more sessions to go) my Dad will need to have possibly a further 15 sessions done to his head. Ironically many people think my Dad is daft but this next treatment is not unfortunately to make his jokes any better. What we hadn’t appreciated at the start is that depending on the stage and type of Lung Cancer you have it can often spread to the Brain. The spread of the disease is not always visible at first and so Radiation is then given to the brain as a ‘preventative measure’. As my Dads Cancer is aggressive and is never really going away, this additional step in the treatment process will be needed. However at this stage we need to wait for a further doctor’s go-ahead as to when this will be and for how long. It is most likely to be done soon after the main Radiotherapy treatment is complete and last for an additional 3 weeks. It just seems to be a never ending saga but obviously the benefits far outweigh any negatives.
For my family though it is a bit of a blow as they had hoped to pay a visit to friends and family in the UK next month though for my Dad this is now looking less likely. The problem is until the doctor tells us when this next treatment schedule will be, no plans can be made. This however, has been a problem for a while now with all of them being stuck in Limbo Land. Life is on hold. Holidays can’t be planned and trips away keep being pushed back. It is like watching a group of caged animals at the house though. It’s difficult to ‘live’ when there are so many restrictions being placed upon your life.
The main thing to take away from all the above though is that my Dad is doing incredibly well. He looks far better than the last time we saw him and his spirits are staying high. He is pottering around more and other than sounding like a doddery old fool at times, things are fairly calm.
As promised I have also asked for some ahem ‘Classic’ jokes. Apologies in advance…These were the first three my Dad recited back to me. This time he had no trouble remembering them. Damn his treatment for being so effective.
Joke 1: Paddy and Murphy are walking down the street and Murphy falls down a manhole. Paddy asks Murphy “Is it dark down there?”
Murphy replies…”I don’t know, I can’t see……”
Joke 2: A woman’s husband nips out into the garden to get some runner beans for dinner where he unfortunately collapses and dies. A friend asks what she is possibly going to do now after the shock incident to which she simply replies…”I’ll just have to open a tin of carrots instead”.
Joke 3: Paddy is learning to drive and so is reading the Highway Code book. He informs Murphy that in places where there is 1 yellow line that “you can’t park there at all”.
Murphy responds by asking then what 2 yellow lines mean and Paddy states that “you can’t park there at all at all”.
And breathe…. That’s the best of today’s bad bunch. Least he’s back on form and just maybe the Radiation therapy to the head may help him produce a joke that’s actually good. (Though admittedly I do like Joke 1 haha)