Knowledge is Power (The War Rages on) – Blog 40

Knowledge

So the day my Dad has been waiting for arrived and let’s just say it didn’t quite get off to the start they all expected. The appointment was scheduled for roughly 12:30 but the phone rang at 8:30 asking for my Dad to come in for a further scan at 10am. It transpires that when he had the CAT scan last week the scan to his brain was missed off, so needed to be done today before all the results could be given. Fortunately, the outcome of this further scan could be assessed more or less straight away so the results news, they were waiting for, would not be delayed.

The news unfortunately was as expected though understandably not as hoped for – well not as per the miracle hoped for.

I want to say the result is that the Cancer is back. The truth of the matter is that the Cancer never actually went away. It was just lying dormant thanks to the amazing work of the last bout of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy my Dad undertook. This dormancy period though has lapsed and the Cancer has started to re grow.

Cartoon

I want to make things clear that there are positives to draw from these results.

The Cancer may no longer be dormant but it is not as large as it was before. Therefore, the treatment received thus far has done its job tremendously. The Cancer however is fully detectable now in both lungs. It did exist in his right lung previously, it was just not as serious as the large tumour found in the other.

The brain scan today has also revealed no impact or spread of Cancer there, which can be fairly common. This again is thanks to how quick my mum and Alan acted in taking him to hospital last year; the treatment received then would have helped lessen the impact to other areas of my Dad’s body.

I’d also like to make it clear how strong my Dad continues to be. We are now a massive 10 months on from when he first got taken into hospital before the initial diagnosis of Stage 4 Lung Cancer. The statistics online are very woolly so can only be taken as a guidance. Everyone is different and it is thought that only 30% of patients diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer survive for more than 1 year; 10% are thought to survive for 5 years+.  I’m seeing this as a positive despite it sounding gloomy, especially considering how many people I have heard about on the news in this last 10 months losing their own battles in very short periods of time from being diagnosed.

I think it would be foolish to predict any amount of time my Dad may or may not have left with us. The key thing is that he is battling on and now he has the results, he can recommence a further bout of treatment. It’s also pointless trying to predict how effective this second lot of Chemo will be and if he will struggle any more or less than the first time round.

The second lot of Chemotherapy is going to commence this Wednesday! My Dad was given the option to delay this for a couple of months should he so desire, though this was against medical advice. The sooner he gets the treatment, the more effective it should be at hitting back at the Cancer cells. Personally I’d have slapped him for delaying it, but I can also appreciate his apprehension at it is technically starting all over again. My Dad was hopeful that further Chemo wouldn’t be required. One so he didn’t have to put himself back through it but also so he didn’t feel he was putting his wife through the stress of it either.

My mum though is a strong person, not that the news today hasn’t knocked her for six. The thing is she is desperate not to lose her husband whom she loves very much, so had willed the result to be what in her heart of hearts she knew it would never be.

The Chemo itself will run as it did before. 3 consecutive full days of treatment every 3 weeks. I guess the positives from this are that my Dad can see all his ‘guapa’ nurses once again – (guapa is the Spanish for beautiful).

The other positive is that ‘Knowledge is Power’. Some of the stresses will be lessened this time as they will cope much better knowing how things work, where they need to be and when to be there and will understand more of what to look out for in terms of side effects etc…

It remains to be seen if my Dad’s jokes will improve as a result of further Chemo. Today when he learnt a further scan was needed to assess his brain, he quipped “Why? The answer is obvious, I don’t have one”. Love them or loathe his jokes, we would all miss them.

Brain

The one thing my Dad does need to do is to take his water intake seriously. Eight glasses of water a day is not much. I don’t care if you don’t ‘like it, just get it down your neck. I’d also add at this stage that the ‘smoking’ issue should be revisited and both my parents need to see how important the chemo is in helping give my Dad those extra valuable days. This isn’t a dig as the news today has rocked them both to the core, though I would simply like them to take the opportunity to think… ‘three’ a day may not sound much but the treatment received surely would be so much more effective with ‘none’ a day. This though is just my opinion.

Water Intake

At the end of Blog 39 I also reported that my Dad as well as Alan managed to lose the inaugural Table Football match at Plaza Mayor. The losing streak unfortunately continued for my Dad with the loss of a game of Chess and Tri-nominoes. I guess though that is the ‘three losses’ out the way. He can now focus on winning a more important battle. Either way, he will always remain a winner in my eyes.

Power of Love- Blog 39

Rainbow

David and I returned to Spain yesterday to check in with the old folks and spend some more quality time with them.

It’s strange as just one year ago to the day we were actually spending time with them in England, having a meander through the beautiful Wollaton Park over the Easter weekend. At that stage though, none of us were aware of the war that was starting to form in my Dad’s body.

Wollaton Hall

Back to the present day and having arrived quite late last night we had a brief catch up before all retiring to bed. We had probably put too much onus on today but I guess this can’t be helped. Today was, after all, the day my Dad was due to have his long awaited CAT Scan in order to ascertain exactly where he was in his battle against Stage 4 Lung Cancer.

Waiting at the hospital felt a little strange. There were different coloured doors everywhere, all with radiation warning signs on and all for different types of cancer. The basement level 1 patient waiting area felt dark and dingy and not a happy place to be. We were all sat quite near the door that my Dad would be going through for his scan, a scan that would last no more than 10 minutes.

This particular door was not brightly coloured and was labelled with the abbreviation: ‘TAC’. It took us a while to fathom exactly what this sign meant though ironically reverse the letters and you get ‘CAT’ (Computerized Axial Tomography) or in Spanish – Tomografía Axial Computarizada. Pretty obvious when you see it lol.

TAC.jpg

The CAT scan itself makes use of computer-processed combinations of X-Ray images, all taken at different angles, so to produce cross sectional (tomographic) images of specific areas of the body. In my Dads case this is to review the cancer in his lungs and any spread that may have occurred to the brain.

CAT Scan

Dad is a fighter, and although you can tell he is worried, he continues to put a brave face on it. I guess the thing is, there is bugger all we can do at this stage as the result will be whatever it is.

It’s odd, the last year I have seen and been witness to many things in my family. Things like this can cause close knit relations to go one of many ways. For me and my immediate family it has bonded us together like never before. Cancer is a killer, pure and simple. Cancer doesn’t care if you are black or white, male or female, gay or straight, young or old. When it looks to stake a claim on you, it can and more often than not does have devastating consequences. Cancer tries to suck the heart from a person and slowly reduce them to nothing until it claims its prize; the ultimate mood-hoover. But I can tell you now no matter what, my Dad is a winner and isn’t letting this beat him. No matter if he has 1 week or 10 years left in him, he continues to battle on in the best way he can. His spirit is incredible and despite several knock-backs, he carries on moving forward and living for the here and now.

Mood

The CAT scan results appointment is scheduled for April 11th. I’m very much of the mind that no matter the result, my Dad and our family as well as all of his amazing friends will keep on moving forward, together, in the best way we can. As soon as I know the results I will provide a further update.

On a personal note and just to have it published – even though my Dad is a winner – he did however along with Alan manage to lose in an important event this morning – The inaugural ‘Plaza Mayor’ Table Football match against David and I. A score of 5-2 in steady weather conditions saw us take the crown and ultimately win the championship – a re-match has been scheduled for next year…..