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  • nbrightside 12:52 pm on January 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Chemotherapy Comedy Awards 

    Enough of the boring medical updates. With the Grammy awards allocated and the Oscar nominations in, it’s time to present the contenders for the inaugural ‘Chemotherapy Comedy Awards’ where we look back at humorous moments and amusing quotes during the three months of chemotherapy.

    • ‘Careful – we don ‘t want all these ladies going beserk’ after being asked to unbutton my shirt without the curtains being drawn.
    • ‘Be assured, Mr. Brightside, I’ve seen it all before and so have these ladies’ – the nurse’s quick-fire response which filled the room with laughter.
    • ‘It’s the secret of a long and happy marriage doctor’ – my response to a surprised doctor’s reaction to the news that my wife had already examined my backside earlier that morning.
    • ‘Do you mind if I have a feel ?’ ‘No – go ahead – it’s the best offer I’ve had this week’. My response to a pretty Irish nurse attempting to rectify a failed attempt to access the portacath device.
    • ‘Has the ileostomy bag been a great help then ?’ I was sorely tempted to reply ‘Not really – it was much easier to pooh out of my arse like everyone else’.
    • ‘Any problems with breathing ?’ Standard fortnightly medical checklist question. The reply was always ‘Nope – I am still breathing’.
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    • ruben 12:14 am on January 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      You should vidcast your hospital visits. It could be the new Seinfeld…

  • nbrightside 12:34 pm on January 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    review time 

    After the completion of the chemotherapy, I had another MRI and CT scan to let the clever doctors review progress and plan the next steps in the treatment plan (which was scheduled to be 6 weeks of intensive radiotherapy).

    The only feedback I had during the three months chemotherapy was that the ‘cancer markers in my blood were down (from 10 to 5)’ which I took as good and welcome news but it didn’t really tell me much about the state of the problematic lump in my backside.

    The doctors told me that the chemotherapy had ‘been beneficial’ and there was evidence that the centre of the tumour was ‘necrosed’ (dead). When I said it was strange, the central core had been affected and not the edges, the doctor explained that the central area was blood rich and as the chemotherapy attacks rapidly growing cells, this actually made sense. Although the size of the tumour was unchanged (8 cm), the doctors also seem pleased with the way I had tolerated the chemotherapy with relatively few side effects which meant the frequency and dosages didn’t need modifying with only two delays of one week each.

    To summarise, the doctors confirmed that we are still on course for a ‘curative solution’ – curing the cancer not just treating the symptoms and we will continue now with external beam radiotherapy. The sole purpose of this targeted radiotherapy is to reduce the size of the tumour in order to give the subsequent surgery to remove the tumour the best possible chance of complete success.

    In fact, the doctors stressed that it is not necessarily the size, per se, of the tumour that matters. It is the areas around the edges and borders with other organs that is crucial. As the doctor said, ‘We need 5mm to be able to safely remove all of the tissue. If we get more, than that’s even better’.

    I asked what the best and worst case scenarios were. The worst was ‘no reduction but this was unlikely’ while the best outcome was that the tumour would shrink away to nothing, negating the need for surgery. My ears pricked up at this prospect as this was the first time, this had been aired. However, the oncologist immediately urged caution and said this was a ‘20% chance’ but not for my type of ‘mucin producing tumour which doesn’t tend to respond as well to radiotherapy’.

    The next stage was a planning session for the radiotherapy where the radiologist would perform another CT scan and etch three small markers (tattoos) which enable them to align and aim the laser beam accurately into the correct area for the 30 days of radiotherapy.

     
  • nbrightside 12:09 pm on January 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    cruising through chemotherapy 

    After the initial hiccups, the remaining four cycles of chemotherapy treatment passed (thankfully) without any further significant excitement.

    After one session, I left the hospital and when I went to open my car door, I felt a strange feeling of pins and needles in my fingertips as soon as I touched the metal. This was the neuropathy side-effect I had been forewarned about. The feeling wasn’t painful – more of a surprise – and it was short-lived. In the following weeks, I experienced neuropathy quite often and it was always associated with cold temperatures; for example, getting milk out of the fridge and once, my voice went all husky when I went outside on a nippy winter’s day.

    At Christmas, I had a conventional winter cold, with a runny nose, sore throat and a couple of mouth ulcers. This caused my final chemotherapy session to be delayed by one week to early January but to be honest, as I felt pretty lousy, I was almost quite relieved.

    I was aware mouth ulcers were a cause for concern during chemotherapy as they appeared on the ‘Call us immediately if you get any of the following symptoms’ checklist. Inevitably, my oncologist seized on this – ‘When did you first notice the ulcers ?’ ‘On Christmas Day’ ‘Did you ring the hospital and tell us ?’ ‘Err, no’. ‘Why not ?’ ‘Well it was Christmas Day and I was having fun, eating nuts and playing Scrabble’.

    The oncologist sighed, smiled and told me to sluice some white, creamy mouthwash around my mouth three times a day. The truth was there was no way I was telling my wife about the mouth ulcers let alone calling the hospital on Christmas Day and risk being summoned for a consultation or, worse, being admitted again.

     
    • Scott Evans 1:14 pm on January 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      You’re one lucky guy to go through chemotherapy pretty much trouble free! I had nothing but trouble. Oh and as for not telling the wife about the ulcers, back on Xmas day 2006 I didn’t let on that I wasn’t doing so well, the only problem was I ended up being admitted the following day (boxing day)

      • nbrightside 1:44 pm on January 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Yes – maybe I should have caveat’ed this post with ‘Your mileage may vary’ rather than implying chemo is a breeze.

        Still, at least, you got to enjoy the nuts and Scrabble on Xmas Day 🙂

  • nbrightside 3:29 pm on January 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Twilight Zone 

    Way back in August 2005, I started a blog under the pseudonym ‘Norman Brightside’, the rationale for which is described here.

    I am a keen fan of football and bore people incessantly about the subject.

    In August 2011, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

    There is a UK bowel cancer charity support site, supported by various footballers, called ‘Know The Score‘ which includes and supports the ‘Mr. Brightside project‘.

    Cue twilight zone music.

    [ Sadly, the derivation of the Mr. Brightside project name is inevitably sad and involves the premature death of a young man who liked The Killers so don’t feel obliged to go and read about that. ]

     
  • nbrightside 12:55 pm on January 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    onwards and upwards 

    The climax of the last, thrilling episode saw me stood, in the rain, in a remote corner of a hospital car park with the dramatic Eastenders closing music playing.

    I did what I normally do in these circumstances and called my therapist. He’s a lovely chap who sits on a wooden bench in the beer garden of the Pear Tree hostelry (‘Where Progress Is Measured In Pints’) clutching a pint of Hooky Gold. His pint glass is always half full. Obviously.

    His helpful advice for my quandry was as direct and helpful as ever – ‘Pull yourself together, you soft get’.

    ‘But, hang on, that’s easy for you to say – what about my two questions ?’

    ‘Oh those questions, right – I’ll help you out there. Firstly “‘How did you get here ?”. Well you walked which is more then some of those people back in the hospital who are confined to wheelchairs can do, so count yourself bloody lucky’.

    As for ‘Where does this end up ?’ – well 2012 may see the following events:-

    • GB top the medals table at the London Olympics.
    • England win Euro 2012 beating Germany 4-2 in the final.
    • Manchester United pip local rivals, City, for the Premiership on goal difference in the final game of the season.
    • These blog posts are collated into a best selling e-book that goes viral. You become an overnight Internet sensation and a multi-millionaire.
    • You emerge victorious and find yourself participating in a sponsored rickshaw ride for a bowel cancer charity from London to Cairo accompanied by 80’s pop singer Kim Wilde, snarling Fall frontman Mark. E. Smith and roly poly Christopher Biggins.

    Now be honest – which of of those scenarios is most likely to come to pass ? – the last one of course so stop feeling sorry for yourself and get back in there.

    Buoyed and encouraged by this, I walked back into the hospital and retraced my steps to the ward where the lovely Irish nurse hooked me up for IV antibiotics. I got to order my ham and cheese sandwich, chatted to my friends in the chemotherapy room and dipped into ‘The Stephen Fry Chronicles’.

    Later that afternoon, a room on the ward became free and, feeling like a fraud (as I felt perfectly healthy), I reluctantly took up residence for the next five days. At the weekend, I managed to negotiate day release to get home after lunch and return at night to accommodate my thrice daily 30 second injections and various medical observations.

    The IV antibiotics worked their magic and chemotherapy session 2 was resumed the following Wednesday after just a weeks delay.

     
    • Steve 5:42 pm on January 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Andy. inspiring, amusing, improbable (point 3) and enjoyable as ever. On your triumphal return to meet your therapist in person this July do you see yourself rising up through the layers of the pyramid owing to all this weight you are shedding?

      • nbrightside 1:29 pm on January 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Bad news on that front. Lost a stone after surgery but put almost half of it back on. Mainly due to experimenting to find alcoholic beverages that don’t taste as if they are supplemented with iron filings.

        There’s also this psychological things of ‘I’ve got cancer, I’ll do (eat) what I want’. However I will make a note to raise this thorny issue with the consultant.

    • Darce 12:18 am on January 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Andy,
      Loved the idea of a 80s backing group, but I always preferred Clare Grogan to Kim Wilde and she has aged better than Marty’s eldest.

      Glad things are going well, but Cowlers, I need you as my “wing man” at the bottom of the pyramid… as Gibbo is now a soft southerner and TOWIE fanatic (enough said) and Hibbo won’t turn up, unless we sacrifice at least 2 virgins, so you have to be with me at the bottom of the pyramid. It’s where we belong, “bruvver” Cowling,
      Love, peace and recycled mince pies, Darce

      PS Thought of the week – That Alan Pardew ain’t half a good manager, West Ham should get him…

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