Wednesday 16 December 2009

Six months on

It's six months since Steve was diagnosed with mesothelioma and I'm pleased to say that he's still going strong. 

Looking back, I have to admit that the chemo was grueling, particularly the last few cycles, where the side effects never really eased off during rest weeks.  Indeed, they still haven't disappeared completely, but we are getting there.  It is a relief, however, to be able to look forward to a break from hospital visits - in the last six months, there have been only three whole weeks in which we didn't have one or more trips to the cancer centre.  It wasn't just the hours involved in hospital and traveling there and back, but the way in which the time between visits was so disjointed - never more than 2-3 days at a time to get on with life.  

In some ways, we are learning to live with Steve having an incurable illness. It helps that, at present, he is not having difficulties breathing and his mobility is not affected, so life goes on as usual in many respects - we still have to do normal things, like shopping, cooking, household chores (although some have been ignored for as long as possible.....) It's always in the back of our minds however, that this could change very rapidly at any time, and then there is the prospect of more chemo - not something either of us are looking forward to. 

That said, although finishing the last course was a relief, we feel a little like we have now been cast adrift in a vast ocean, at the mercy of the tides and the weather.  What do we do now? What happens next?  It wasn't something we talked to the consultant about at the last assessment visit, other than to make an appointment to see him in three months time for another CT scan and X-ray to assess any change.  After feeling that Steve has been the centre of the team's attention for six months, it now feels rather bizarre to have drop off the radar completely for the next three months.  

However, we are not sitting idly by waiting for the worst.  Since the problems with his white blood cell count during chemo which lead to treatment being postponed three times, Steve has been taking vitamins, zinc and omega fish oil supplements to help boost his immune system.  He hasn't had a problem since, even though he felt rough during the last few cycles.  So that regime continues..  

Our continuing quest for information about meso treatments threw up research about the effectiveness of a medicinal mushroom Agaricus Blazei Murill (ABM), which is widely used in Brazil, China and some other European countries where it grows naturally.  It was reported recently in the Journal of Medical Case Reports that a mesothelioma patient who took ABM had a clinical tumour disappearance during a 29 month follow-up period.  We are not assuming it will be a miracle cure for Steve, but it fulfills the need we feel to do something active in the fight against Leo. Guess what's on the breakfast menu every day now...

So - here we are, six months on, still going strong, in spite of falling into emotional pit holes occasionally, and trying not to be too daunted by what inevitably lies ahead at some point in the future. We are determined that it won't spoil the here and now, if we can possibly help it.  And on that positive note, who is going to invite us to a New Year's Eve party to remember?

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