Friday, 29 March 2013

The Last Year

Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer almost exactly a year ago. During the last year she underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy at Mount Vernon hospital followed by an operation to remove the tumour at Wexham Park hospital in September 2012. The biopsy of the tumour that was removed showed that the treatment prior to surgery had made the tumour benign, which was good news.

All through the treatment for the bowel we had been made aware that there was a nodule on her left lung, which had shrunk with the chemo and radiotherapy. As soon as the bowel surgery was over attention was switched to this nodule and in January mum went into Harefield hospital to have the tumour removed. The bad news was that the scans prior to the operation showed up more nodules on both lungs, which meant she had to under go another operation on the right lung in March, six week after the left lung was operated on.

So as at April 2013 mum has had both operations making it a total of 3 major operations in 6 months. She has now had two follow up appointments and the news is very good. First she saw the lung surgeon and all the nodules they removed in the 2nd operation were non cancerous, which basically meant they only removed the one cancerous nodule from her lungs in 2 operations and that was the one that showed up in the early stages of the bowel treatment, which they removed in the first lung operation along with some non cancerous nodules. The lung surgeon was really pleased with mum and discharged her from her care. Next she saw the oncologist who was also really pleased, and has told her that no more treatment is planned. She has to go back for a CT scan in June and if that one is clear they won't do another one for a further 6 months. He played it straight and said that he couldn't guarantee that the cancer wouldn't reappear, but as things stand she is clear and able to totally pick up her life again. So today was really the news we have been hoping we would get for the last year, and I am having a celebratory beer as I type this :)

It has been an incredibly tough year for mum, with her whole life being put on hold. She has missed her part time job hugely and the people she works with. She hasn't been able to do as much with her horse as she would like, and holiday plans have been put on hold. But most of all she has had to endure the side effects of the chemo and radiotherapy, the post op trauma associated with removal of part of the bowel and the post op discomfort of the 2 lung operations. She has rarely complained and seems more worried about being a burden on others during this time. She has been truly inspirational.

As for me a year ago I had no intention of writing a book, in fact I knew precious little about bowel cancer. I am still not quite sure why I decided to do the book, but it has been one of the most positive and rewarding experiences of my life. I was very lucky to have Jo editing the book as with her help it became something a bit more than just one man's ramblings! The support for the book so far has been amazing from family, friends and an extraordinary number of people who I have not met. I cannot thank the cancer community enough, not just the Beating Bowel Cancer charity for its support, but the numerous individuals many of whom are going through their own cancer battles. Yet they still make time to support me and this venture at every stage. The whole experience has at times made me feel very humble, and no matter how hard life gets I have to remind myself that there are many people facing up to and fighting much bigger battles than me. Where the book goes from here I do not know. I am determined to keep pushing it, although the marketing and sales side has proved a massive challenge. How to find and engage the mass wider audience? If I can solve that then I am sure I will reach my target of 1000 sales :)

Please please please buy the book. You will not only be contributing to a worthy charity, but helping to raise bowel cancer awareness which is vitally important...

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