Tuesday, 25 August 2015

On the move again

Things are on the move again.

Sadly, it's not us on the move this time.

It's Steve's meso.  

The cancer is progressing visibly.  July's scan report noted that the lump on his chest (where the tumour has grown through the rib cage) had shrunk after radiotherapy last December.  However the weekend before last, some six weeks after the July scan, Steve noticed that it had grown.  

There is now a linear swelling on the outside of his chest extending diagonally from the site of the original lump towards his shoulder and armpit.  To see this change in such a relatively short period of time is worrying, as you can imagine.  If the cancer is growing that quickly on the outside of Steve's chest, there's a good chance it's probably doing the same on the inside.....

....Plus, his appetite has been variable; he has been coughing more, and getting more puffed out on exertion.  Not good signs.....

Time for action. 

The extra "puffers" prescribed by our GP are helping Steve's breathing and cough, which is good. Hannah, his meso nurse specialist, will arrange for him to see the radiotherapist after another scan to assess disease progression since July and to act as a baseline to judge the effectiveness of further treatment. We now are now in limbo, waiting for the scan date so that an appointment for radiotherapy can be sorted out.  Potential referrals to other hospitals are also on hold while we deal with the immediate problem.

Of course, life doesn't stop still in the meantime.  In the near future, we have another trip to Bristol to look forward to, and a few more social gatherings in the pipeline.  However, plans beyond late September are (of necessity) very fluid. 

We'll just have to take life one day at a time again.  We're good at that....

Friday, 14 August 2015

birthday, Bristol, family, friends and (another) festival

Its been a busy fortnight....

A birthday trip for me, starting in Bath with a visit to the Royal Photographic Society to deliver a print shortlisted for this year's International Print Exhibition; a chat with Lesley the exhibitions manager followed by lunch at The Bear pub nearby.  

Then on to a farm near Radstock to take some photos in the Somerset Lavender fields (a lot easier than going to Provence!) before travelling on to Frome to pay a surprise birthday visit to Steve's brother Martin to wish him many happy returns (we share the date) and a happy retirement too.

Two days later, I spent the afternoon with friends and former colleagues from the City Council visiting the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies before rushing home to enjoy a repeat birthday celebration when daughter Katie and partner Ed came to stay with us for the weekend. 

After a meal together on Friday night, we went our separate ways on Saturday afternoon - them to meet up with their Oxford friends, and us for a very enjoyable gathering with our friends Ian and Ruth, plus Anne and Colin, visiting Oxford for the weekend - then a final family meal together on Sunday, before Katie and Ed returned to London.

The next day we packed our bags to spend a "holiday" week in Bristol with son Jack, indulging in a bit of art and culture with indoor exhibitions at the Arnolfini, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, and the Royal West of England Academy.  

We also enjoyed some outdoor installations - the "Bristol Whale Project" in Millennium Square, woven in willow, emerging from waves of recycled plastic bottles, and "Withdrawn" an enigmatic collection of derelict boats nestled deep in Leigh Woods, on the other side of Clifton Suspension Bridge.   

Jack took us to Royal Fort Gardens (part of the University of Bristol) where we had fun trying to take some photos in the mirror maze, as well as capturing the very photogenic Life Sciences building.  

The prospect of a warm sunny day lured us to the coast for a traditional British seaside lunch of fish and chips amidst all the hustle and bustle of the pier at Western-super-Mare, followed by a more peaceful walk through the sand dunes and on to the almost deserted beach at Berrow, to photograph the wreck of a Norwegian boat, the SS Normen, which ran aground in 1897.

We had fun eating out too - lunch at Flinty Red with Jack, tea together at the Clifton Lido and an evening meal at the Greenbank community pub with nephew Nick, partner Kate and daughter Esme.

It was good to be able to go back to Jack's to rest up every evening after all this activity, and to enjoy his company. Steve was feeling a bit puffed at times and could have done with his inhaler to ease his breathing; it had run out, but he soldiered on anyway.  The only sad part of the trip was the visit to see Steve's mum in her nursing home.  She is very, very poorly and was rather agitated when we arrived.  Very distressing to see her like that, but feel unable to do anything....Apart from that, we enjoyed our extended visit to Bristol so much, we'll be going back again soon.

Back at home in Oxford one night, new inhaler picked up from the local chemist, then on to Newbury the next day for the Retro Festival - classic cars and other vehicles, vintage stalls, aerial displays, and lots of music and dance, with the highlight being a set by Gino Washington and the Ram Jam Band on the Ricky Tick Mod Stage on Saturday night.  Steve was a bit frustrated that he didn't have the puff to dance to every number, but still has the moves when he does!

After a day to recover, we were delighted to spend Monday afternoon with our friends Peter and Paula, visiting from London.  Good to catch up with their news, including the fact that they are going to be grandparents.  Congratulations Ellie!

The rest of this week has been a bit more down to earth - taking delivery of some new garden furniture; sorting out some work and medical matters; catching up with housework, slowly....and thinking about Steve's next steps on his meso journey, but without making any firm decisions as yet.  

Plans for more traveling are on hold for the time being, until Steve decides what he wants to do next and where he wants to do it.  Is it time for a second opinion, or a referral to another hospital now that the Churchill Hospital here in Oxford seems to have run out of options (for the time being at least)?  Hmmm...decisions, decisions.....