41. From Bad to Good, to Great News!

Great News Montage

Got to get your priorities sorted out – music CDs (though LPs would have been preferable!) are always great news – but what is mine in this blog?

Accessed at https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=good+news+images  on 7 February 2016.

Well, how would you feel if you tried to confirm the time of your next appointment with the person who has information regarding your date with destiny, and then discover that it isn’t in his diary? None too enthralled, I suspect. Me either! But this is what happened to me and my proposed appointment with Dr P to discuss my latest CT scan results. So, this was bad news on last Thursday morning.

Come Thursday afternoon I received a call from Dr P’s secretary to confirm that he would see me after-all, sometime on Friday afternoon during the time I was attending Ward 32, Ninewells Hospital for my pre-Chemo assessment, which naturally included donating yet another armful of my Chateau Sang! So, here is the good news! Though, this did raise my anxiety levels a little earlier than would have been the case if my appointment for Monday had not been cancelled. Every silver lining is surrounded by a dark cloud! Every silk purse is still a sow’s ear. So, what next?

Come 1:30pm on Friday afternoon, I was mid-way through my Pre-Chemo assessment meeting with my nurse for the day, A. Suddenly, (after much ‘paging’ earlier) Dr P appeared in the main consulting room where I was awaiting the “needle and cannula” from yet another of the Dracula-figures, I conjure in my mind when I am about to be phlebotomised! Dr P appeared very buoyant and could barely wait to get the formal “hello, how are youbusiness” quickly out of the way, and then, on to more pressing matters. “I wanted to see you face to face, because it is not often I am able to give my patients good news!”, he said.

My results were good news, too. Dr P said I was probably in the top few percent of patients, in his experience, of the way my stomach cancer had responded to the Combo Chemo Cocktail. The primary site, my stomach cancer, had responded well and had shrunk considerably. I asked, “roughly what percentage”, to which he replied, “I was afraid you’d ask that!”. He couldn’t be precise about the actual amount, but said that he was confident the reduction in size of my stomach cancer was substantial, maybe more than 50-60% reduction overall.

Afterwards, I wondered whether the method of Stereology, creating three dimensional image data from two dimensional image data, as applied in Biomedical science, including representing some structures within a larger superstructure (for example the number of mitochondria or volume-percentage of say, the nucleus, or total mitochondrial volume, of a cell), could be used, with suitable software, to provide quick, accurate and reliable information from CT scan images? Note to self to research this and report to Dr P.

He showed Elaine and I the CT scan images on a small computer screen of both before (first scan about three months ago) and after Combo Chemo treatment (a couple of weeks ago). Everything was just a mass of “grey stuff” as far as Elaine was concerned (CT scans don’t come in coloured-flavours unfortunately). I fared a little better and just about could see the “shades of grey” (memories of earlier, Blog 7) he was trying to point out that represented my stomach lumen, stomach wall, anterior and posterior segments; as well as external-to-stomach structures such as lymph nodes, and so on…

Shades of Gray

The reason it was difficult to discernwhat was what, so-to-speak”) regarding the extent of “shrinkage of the cancer” was that the stomach cancer lump was actually not an isolated lump at all, rather, it comprised a massive thickening of almost the entire stomach wall. Coincidentally, this is probably also what made earlier surgery an unlikely option, I guess, unless I had been prepared to forego having a stomach at all, ever; including after the hoped-for recovery and my survival.

Anyway, he said that whilst all that was good news, the more exciting thing was, (wait there’s more…) I have great news”. He moved the computer images posteriorly (towards the duodenal rather than the oesophageal end of my stomach) and pointed out, by comparison of pre-post Combo Chemo images, the almost complete elimination (at CT Scan resolution anyway) of the various abdominal cancer deposits, including lymph nodes and ‘seedlings‘. So, was I going to have a glass (or more) of alcohol-containing fluid later that night – you bet!

So that’s (not quite) all (my news) folks, but the rest is short, honest! One outcome of writing these last 40 or so blogs is that my career might be taking a turn for the better – if I want it. I responded to an “anybody interested? ” employment call from http://www.Jobs.ac.uk. for potential ‘bloggers’. I applied, sending them a link to my web site and Cancer Blog. And guess what, I am now an employee of the company I use to check out for potential employment!? I’ll let you know when I have posted my first blog on either, “Higher Education” or “Higher Education in Australia”. At least I have experienced both – just for most of my working life!

And on another note, as you know, (5 Blogs-worth so far, ie the Harry Potter… series), I am writing a paper in response to a UK Government review of the NHS, to shift to a more preventative approach to treatment and a proactive approach to promote health. I am hoping to attend the first conference on the dissemination of a Plan developed after a year-long consultation that ended in December 2015. The programme for the conference was already published but I contacted the organisers anyway to ask whether I could participate in any capacity, but with an intent to promote my “patient’s perspective”, and as an informed biomedical scientist and higher education specialist educator and trainer. They are reviewing my abstract now! I hope to attend the conference on 22 March 2016 in London regardless of the outcome of their decision about publishing my paper.

So, there you go: lots of silver linings in dark clouds just now – though, I am trying not to get too carried away. I’ll still be having at least another two cycles of Chemo, commencing next Tuesday. My consultant’s only concern is the same as mine – the nerve damage caused by the Oxaliplatin. Anyway, he checked the extent of damage with a sharp needle (a non-technical test, rough and ready, but probably effective!) and will monitor again each time a new cycle of Chemo is due. I’ll be doing my own self-checks from now on too.

That’s (definitely) all folks. Bye for now!



8 thoughts on “41. From Bad to Good, to Great News!

  1. Having been out of circulation the last week or so I”ve only just caught up on this excellent news. Well done Colin – keep the good work going!!!

    Best wishes from Down Under,
    Peter B.


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