Saturday, 25 April 2009


I'm not going to lie-not at all sure about this blogging business. More how it all works than anything else! Am slightly afraid having set this up i'll never be able to find it again, so if this is the only post til the end of time you'll know why....

Despite my complete ignorance on the subject, since being diagnosed with cancer (booo hiss) a couple of weeks ago a very good friend in a very insightful email suggested that it would be a great way to keep everyone up to date.

So here are the facts (particularly for the benefit of the medical school rumour mill ;))

-had tummy pain on and off since christmas, but nothing that seemed that bad

-went to GPs march time, and thoughts were IBS but had blood tests too.

- liver function and inflammatory markers were mental! in phone consult GP asked how much was drinking, did start to wonder if 5th year of student drinking might classify you as an alcoholic!

-came home after a few days in france and generally became mopey and grumbly

-my mum (who's a GP) suspected gall stones, which seemed to fit in beautifully with symptoms, site of pain, liver getting irritated, even referred shoulder pain that i'd put down to dislocating it in october (spectacular dislocation- waving arm in air, smooth...)

-went into hosp to sus out gall stone theory, but ultrasound showed no stones but 'multiple abnormalities on liver'. technician got very flustered with my multiple 'what's that, what's that?!' line of questioning and ushered me out, backless gown and all, as quickly as possible!

-had CT that afternoon which revealed tumour in large intestine (hepatic flexure for geeks, nowhere near the rectum MT!). Consultant was amazing at breaking the news to us, espacially bearing in mind as the idea certainly hadn't crossed my mind...colon cancer- you're supposed to be 64 not 24 aren't you?!

-amazing evening of support and pushing of NHS overnight stay policy boundries. not one nurse dared to question why liz was sharing the bed and chris was snoring on the floor, they just went about their business around them. don't know how i would have coped waking up by myself.

-UGH next morning the endoscope!! have never felt so violated in my life... not only do you have to drink 2 cups of this horrific salty-sweet drink masquerading as 'lemon and ginger' beforehand (which 'cleans you out' in a most alarming manor) they then put a camera up you. I think the weirdest thing is you're not out, but sedated and you have pain killers, but not nearly enough! in fairness, with hindsight, my gut was so screwed up it probably hurt a lot more than it does normally. as i said before, i don't think you're supposed to get colon cancer until you're much older, unless you have a genetic condition resulting in you forming 'polyps' which are basically pre-cancerous little tongues of gut. they found and removed 12 of polyps while they were up there, which is abnormal but not enough to warrent the genetic condition (apparently). they also took a biopsy of the tumour and are going to do some genetic testing...

-got to go home that afternoon, promising to return for surgery the following wednesday. was lovely to be back. highlights included:

all the cards, flowers, messages and presents-so humbling and strenghening (a word?)
dave and laurence's visit resulting in lo and my dad enjoying plenty of red wine and getting far too engrossed in discussions about cameras and showers
dvd evening and the premiere of some incredible nightware
trip to safari park with my rock-steady home girlies, and cha and manisha SCREAMING at the appearance of a bear, despite being in the car... ;) we missed shell.

-back to hosp on the tuesday afternoon for op on weds. obviously can't remember any of it (!) but was informed afterwards part of the small gut (the mesentary of the ileum) had decided to tangle itself around the tumour. so ended up having half of ileum and half of colon (up to splenic flexure) removed. Cancer had also invaded another area, part of the peritoneum, but all that could be found was removed. Tumour was apparently the size of 'a small pinapple'. When my dad asked what that was in cms, he was told 'like two grapefruits'. Apparently to be a surgeon you've got to work in fruit!

-was in hosp for a week. first 2 days were brilliant as i was getting some kind of iv opiate infusion and an epidural so couldn't feel anything and was in a great mood! then they cut me off, pretty much cold turkey :( tough times... had lots of lovely visitors bearing baskets, dog toys and asda versions of childhood games but unfortunately all i could really give back was bad chat, nausea and a front seat view of my catheter bag filling.

-been back home since tuesday (so 4 days) which is lovely. parents are angels, and feeling better everyday. district nurses pop in everyday to change dressing. wound is about 15cm long, and runs right thro tummy button as if it wasn't there! part of me thought they'd go round...aim now is to put weight back on and improve mobility as much as pos. chemo supposed to start around 6 weeks after op and want to make as sure as hell am strong enough for it to all go ahead as planned. next stop, liver!

If this whole thing has shown me anything so far, it's how blessed i am with my family and friends-it's insane. I think i've only cried 4 or 5 times, but at least 3 of those times were just being moved by something written in a card or text. No idea what it means to me.

Hope this is what a blog is supposed to be! xxx


  1. hello my sweets, this is a rele good idea...hope ur doin ok. we love u lots and group work dynamics are all ruined !!! which means i disrupt everyone else lol

    i jus noticed the time at the end of this 04:56 !! wat were u doin up so early ?!?

  2. Hi Claire - more evidence that doctors need training on fruit analogue scales can be found here -

    Love you
    A x

  3. When I tried to get in here I was warned your blog is being reviewed for possibly inappropriate content... Maybe the title worried them? :). But a great idea and loved the thing about the fruit - have you had the class on that yet? Did the pineapple include the spiky bits on the top - no wonder it hurt!!
    Lots of love

  4. Hey, hey my lovely!

    This is an excellent idea, totally look forward to reading more about yourself and random fruit. Today I described a bruise I gained (from... walking into the door. Don't ask.) as the size of an enraged peach; so I think I'm doomed already.

    Anyway, just wanted to leave you a note to say hi, and I hope you're doing ok. Miss ya lots, sending lots of love, hugs and green olives,



  5. Hey hun! I agree with what's been said before, this is a brilliant idea.

    Hope you're feeling a bit brighter and stronger everyday and that your folks are spoiling you!

    Take care buddy, we're missing you loads. Sending you lots of love and hugs!

    Nina xx