Thursday, 5 September 2013

Assessment day

The elusive pink slip for Steve's X-ray didn't arrive in the post, so we hoped it would be waiting for us at the reception as promised, when we arrived at the hospital this morning for Steve's assessment.  To our delight and relief, there it was, ready and waiting for Steve when he checked in at the day clinic reception on arrival.  

As it was close to the appointment time, I returned to the waiting area in the day clinic while Steve had his X-ray. We usually have to wait a 20-30 minutes, sometimes longer, before being called in from the waiting area to the consultation room.  Today, Steve's name was called right on time - while he was still in Radiology - so we had to wait for the next available slot to see the consultant.  

The last few assessments have been carried out by one of the registrars.  Today, to our surprise and delight, it was Doctor T himself - always relaxed and able to put us at our ease.  He didn't keep us waiting in suspense. He told us that he'd looked at Steve's X-ray and could see no discernible change. On physical examination, the chest sounded good. If you read the blog regularly, you will know that Steve is very fortunate to have no other symptoms usually associated with mesothelioma - no pain, not even the breathlessness that he was aware of a couple of years ago.  

His weight is down a little on this visit, which is easily attributed to being weighed today wearing a T shirt and cut-offs rather than the usual jeans and jacket, and the fact that we've had a bit more physical exercise recently, refurbishing the spare room.

Unlike most hospitals which give meso patients CT scans every three months, up to now, ours has only taken scans as part of a chemo regime to assess response to treatment. The rest of the time, they use X-rays which deliver a lower dose of radiation, and only follow up with a scan if the X-ray shows a noticeable change in the cancer.  

I was therefore a bit concerned when Dr T said he would like a CT scan before Steve's next assessment in December, and queried whether this was because of something he'd noticed on the X-ray. We were reassured by Dr T that there was nothing on the X-ray to cause concern. He just thought it would be about time by then for another scan to compare to the one taken at the end of the second line chemo regime which finished earlier this year. 

We had a short discussion about scans and the fact that being more detailed, they can show up areas of meso activity not visible on the X-ray.  Dr T said that some people prefer not to know this level of detail, especially if they are feeling OK otherwise.  Did Steve want a scan, bearing this in mind?  The answer was yes.  So that's what happens next.  

The appointment will probably come through in the post in 2-3 weeks time.  If we want to know sooner, we can ring radiology in a week or so and enquire about timescale, so we don't have to hang around waiting for the appointment before sorting out our plans for the next three months.

The pink slip of paper requesting a scan will be filled in today, photocopied by his secretary to "prove that the request was made" as he said, then taken to radiology to be processed.  So much for the paperless office!

And so the next three months has opened up for us and we can look forward again.  Time to firm up those "pencilled in" arrangements and make plans!  Lots to look forward to in the coming months to make the most of the time between now and the next appointment on 5 December.  

As Steve said as we walked out of the hospital, even if the forthcoming scan indicates meso activity which justifies further treatment, it's unlikely that chemo would start straight way.  All being well, he will be able to enjoy Christmas 2013 and celebrate with a bottle (or two) of fizz, unlike last Christmas when he was four cycles into a six cycle regime of Alimta and carboplatin and not feeling so great.  

Which reminds me - time to put the fizz in the fridge for tonight's celebration and make the most of the sun on what looks to be the last day of summer here in the UK.  Raise a glass with us this evening!

Celebration of Lights by Talha Tariq

Here's hoping that other meso warriors have good news today and next week.  Fingers crossed for all of you xxx


  1. I'm so pleased with your news. You have three worry free months. Enjoy your time together. Off on your travels again?xx

  2. Hi Annie and thanks!

    Yes - just trying to sort out the next trip :-)


  3. I haven't logged onto fb to post. Am so happy for you both I hope the champagne has chilled enough for you to enjoy!

    Yeah another good result xxxx

  4. It's kind of you to think of us Jan when you have so much on your mind. Much love, Linda and Steve xx

  5. well done. always good to hear good results.

  6. excellent news - we raised a glass or two last night for the end of summer. Three hours to go until Ray's latest scan results so keeping our fingers crossed.
    make sure you get that diary filled up

  7. Fingers (and everything else) crossed for you and Ray! xx