Saturday, 25 December 2010

Garry Mimbly; have a cool Yule!

I am pleased to report that Santa arrived safely in London after stopping to deliver Christmas presents at Yateley and Windsor:

A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to One and All.

Lots of love and light


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Bring me fun, bring me sunshine, bring me love.......

.....instead of all the other minor nasties life has thrown at me in the last 24 hours and since my last (the 5th) bout of chemo on Thursday. It has been a right old mishmash of trials and tribulations both on the medical and the social/domestic side of things:

Bearing in mind it usually takes a week or so to recuperate from an infusion of chemo I suppose I'm a little surprised this last one is taking it's toll more doggedly. I have felt much more fatigued and the pain in back and sternum has been more persistent. A very bad tummy upset yesterday morning is still lingering and for the first time ever since starting treatment I was sick a little while ago after a drink of lemon and ginger tea. There are of course numerous reasons for this, none of which a particularly alarming unless I fail to get things under control soon. Following the good advice of Liz Martinez I visited my GP earlier and he prescribed Tramadol for the pain which is proving much more effective than the proprietary analgesics I have been using up until now. But I do wonder whether or not they are responsible for the nausea and whether they eventually will counter my current spate of chronic diarrhea (reaches for more immodium and another glass of water).

On the matter of the run up to Christmas all was looking good until yesterday when, reports from Windsor regarding my daughter's heating system, and the combination of my brother's flight from Jo'burg being cancelled simultaneously as his son Chris had a serious accident involving an under-construction swimming pool in Cape Town, have put our plans for a family reunioun on hold. Contingencies are in place but much, like everything else at present, depends on weather and circumstances beyond our control.

Determination to get out and about for a blow in the fresh air, even when snowing, is still very much a priority as it is more beneficial than being cooped up inside with the central heating on full blast to combat the current icy weather conditions. So excursions with Chaka are not curtailed as long as I wrap up nice and warm.

Most of the Christmas shopping is done but the Xmas cards I designed and had printed have still not arrived so we took emergency action tonight to send out replacements and so apologise to friends and family for the inevitable lateness of our Seasonal Greetings! In the meantime Chemo the Snowman wishes you all a truly festive holiday and says a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (just gotta love his blue suede shoes - Uh huh huh.!):

Thursday, 16 December 2010

First the pills and now the pricks

Thank you all so much for the invaluable support which has in no small way contributed to an almost unbelievable mid term result with the Real 3 trial. By way of interpreting my title of today's submission I am delighted to say that it is in fact good news day: After a busy and anxious two days, I eventually arrived home yesterday evening from celebrating with Geraldine at our favourite Italian restaurant; Al Frescos in Fleet. Yesterday I had a re-scheduled (because of getting stranded in Spain) CT scan in preparation for the mid term review in clinic with Dr Gary Middleton, the chief oncologist running the Real 3 trial at The Royal Surrey Hospital, Guildford. We actually witnessed members of the research team as they scurried through the corridors chasing up the results of Tuesday's bloods and scan in time for the following day's meeting and I am happy to report that they showed that without a shadow of doubt I have won the first fight with Goliath, who is down..... but not out, after a technical knockout in my favour. His seconds and minions are also lesser entities now that the 3 months of chemo have taken their toll without, I hasten to add, hampering my health too much by way of the side effects.

The decision is therefore to carry on with the successful clinical trial and when the inevitable re-match occurs, hopefully after a long period in rehab and training for Goliath before attempting another shot at the title in a future fight (and coincidentally after rest and recuperation and close monitoring for me), then there are several very attractive options available to ensure he remains the under dog in this contest: These include a second session of chemotherapy using the tried and tested EOX combination of Real 3 or possibly inclusion on another new trial administered by the Royal Marsden. Although no further hot spots were detected, sadly but not surprisingly the incurable status has not been reversed and an operation is still out of the question. In a funny sort of way I am pleased with that situation; as wielding the surgical knife does seem to stir up a whole hornets’ nest in many cases and I am not sure I would want to risk that having as many metastases, even though now weakened by the chemo, lurking around my body. Presumably, without quoting specific timescales, my current quality of life can be more or less maintained and extended for a good period of time, and despite the tears and the frustration of unrealistic greater expectations en route to yesterday's clinic with Dr Middleton I now share the obvious euphoria (slight exaggeration) he displayed when announcing the results and saying that after a particular grueling day he was pleased to finish on a high note in having one of his easiest consultations.

The one downside bit of news was the discovery of blood clots in my lungs, which in the bad old days would have given cause for alarm but nowadays is fairly common place under the circumstances and instantly treatable as I discovered almost immediately after two injections of a blood thinning agent; a procedure now to be repeated on a daily basis by self administration for at least the next six months. So now as well as being a guinea pig I now also become dart board (One-hundred-and-eighty for the guy on the oché with the pills and the pricks)

Geraldine and I were almost the last to leave the Oncology outpatients department on level B of the St Luke's Cancer Center but both bearing beaming smiles unerasable by thoughts of the prospect of the snail's crawl in the mass of traffic leaving the Surrey Science Park and the following day's 5th cycle of chemo when returning to the Chilworth Suite day ward.

So in raising a very expensive, but equally as delicious, glass of Borola my toast is: Hoping life is treating you all as favourably as possible too!

Signing off by quoting the lyrics of a song by one of my favorite 60s groups, The Peddlers and one of my all time favorite artists, Babara Streisand:

"People who need people are the luckiest people in the world,

Lots of love and light

David X

Friday, 10 December 2010

Home Again

Although delayed by two hours our flight from Alicante finally touched down at Gatwick at about 02.45 hours this morning and, despite APH ripping us off to the tune of nearly £60 for a 12 day park up, our onward journey back to Yateley via M23, M25 and M3 was chilly but thankfully uneventful. So all in all our extended (3 nights into 12 nights; courtesy of slEasy Jet) two centre holiday package was OK once the initial traumas subsided. Update to follow once rested!

One of the highlights of returning at this particular time was that on Saturday night I fulfilled a promise to Anna that on the occasion of her birthday, when she was hosting her 'Come Dine With Me' dinner party for her girl friends, I cooked my 'Chanterelle Dijonnaise' recipe for starters. Fortunately for the assembly meat and two veg with dumplings did not feature on the menu so I was allowed to wear more than just my new Bad Toro pinnie bought in Spain especially for the event:

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

MotD - Final Score: Real Locaiba, wins 'v' Real 3, loses

Real 3 only loses in the sense that I am having an enforced 'holiday' from Capecitabine while on holiday out here in rural Andalucia staying at Casa del Toro with Sheila. Lovely walks in the hills amongst the almond orchards with her dogs Roxy and Alfie and lunching al fresco in the old town square (Plaza Mayor, Albox) 15 minutes drive away or on the veranda of the hacienda surrounded by olive groves, which need harvesting very soon. Already sample fresh almonds, prickly pear juice and pomegranates straight from the trees but learned a bitter sweet lesson when trying the same thing with an olive! (Don't forget to click on photos to see them large)

Casa del Toro

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Andalucian Dawn

Day break viewed  from 'Casa del Toro', Locaiba, near Albox, Spain

As the sun rises over the hills this morning we send our best wishes to Dave Lavelle who celebrates his 60th birthday today back in the UK.
Many Happy Returns Dave and thanks for all your help and support.
(Weather here wish you were lovely!) 

Friday, 3 December 2010

Siesta Time

La Marina Beach
Just to let you know that despite a genuine (honest guv') effort to get home to England today we are still enjoying an 'enforced' extended holiday on the Costa Blanca: In a semi relaxed state and in possession of very expensive tickets back to London via Madrid we actually progressed as far as Departure Gate 7 at Alicante airport ready to board our flight to Madrid. Earlier browsing and our constant feedback from several folks back home indicated that the situation was deteriorating and the snow was falling more heavily in the region to which we were eventually heading; but all contingencies were in place thanks to the efforts of Paula and Dave, who was now on readiness to collect us from London (City) airport. At the time we expected the boarding announcement, we were, instead, informed that the aircraft was delayed and further information would be available in the space of half an hour: Bang goes our connection! This, together with the almost simultaneous news that, although open, no flights had been operated at City, was almost the last straw for Geraldine, who was so desperate to get me back to the safety of myUK support network, as now we were faced with either continuing on to Madrid whenever and rearranging altenative onward travel to London, however and whenever, and moreover the mayhem caused by the prevailing extreme weather conditions, or staying put in Spain and sorting out our return home under less frenetic and desperate circumstances at a more leisurely controlled pace. Bearing in mind that we still held EasyJet tickets for a flight to Gatwick on the 9th December as a last resort we would start investigating earlier possibilties after the weekend . Calls to both Geraldine's boss and my research team at St Luke's, Guildford whilst waiting for further news about the impending flight, resolved the situation and finally convinced Geraldine that a few more days here was not such a bad idea after all: It wasn't critical for me to return home despite having no more chemo tablets, and work could wait a bit longer for her input. Having contacted both Sheila and Lyn and Graham we now had a chioce of accommodation and transport so we excited airside and made our way, via the Iberia Ticket Sales Office where a no quibble full refund of our £1100 was actioned, for a coffee and a glass of wine to await our lift back to Laderas del Sol at Torrevieja.

Over a long leisurely lunch of Paella and beer, beachside at La Marina, arrangements were made for onward travel the following morning to Albox and Sheila's guest rooms for however long it takes to regroup and find a way home. I for one am so thankful we were not heading for the potential hazards of negotiating travel in the freezing snow bound conditions of south east England, and that Gary has the onerous task of letting Chaka know were still going to be "out shoping" for a while longer. In this respect we are eternally indebted to the folks back home for their continuing and unfailing assistance.

Hurrah ....At last we found snow dusting the top of the Sierras de las Estancias on our way from Murcia to Albox:


4th December - now ensconced in rural Spain and loving every minute. Lyn and Graham very kindly drove us down to Andalucia so we could spend a few days with Sheila and family at 'Casa del Toro', Locaiba near Albox:

Rural and surrounded by its own olive grove, but not too remote, in as much that a 10 minute drive back into Albox - old town, resulted in a typically long Spanish lunch at La Parilla; lingering over tapas in the town square. And when ordering another round of wine you just get given the rest of the bottle of the very good house white (blanco) plus an opened bottle of, equally as good, red (tinto) for good measure - on a 'help yourself and settle up when you've finished' basis. Lunch including wine, a dessert and coffee for five all for under 80 euros. This is the life!

After lunch, and returning to the hills around 'Toro' it's time to walk the dogs, Roxy and  Alfie, and suddenly I find I'm transported back into my element and getting ready to put in a bid for Sheila's rental property when they move out and if the landlord wants to sell.

Previoulsy during the lunchtime sojourn Emma was smitten by the opportunity of going to see Circus Italia, so having bought tickets we spent the evening watching the tumbling, juggling, contortioning of the performers young, and not so young, and the parade of a select few animals under a very chilly 'Big' Top. Not ever having been to a circus before Adz was wide eyed, but not legless, in awe of the performance


So this is my song for Adam (aka Adz), a real trooper and grafter - Cheers and congratulations matey!