Monday, 11 May 2009

Just my rotten luck.

I've just had a call from the hospital to tell me I have an ultrasound liver biopsy scheduled for Wednesday morning. No further details, but my research on the internet indicates that this can be a horrid procedure. Am worried, too, that they won't be able to see anything because I had an ultrasound back in January when all this started and nothing showed up on it - they only found the liver lesion on the CT scan.

Also, I've been working on a book proposal for WhereDunnit, and I very luckily managed to obtain three 'speed-dating' meeings with agents at a writing convention on Friday - and I will not be able to go. So there's my once-in-a-lifetime (what's left of it, anyway) opportunity drifting away down the swannee.....

Friday, 8 May 2009

Good and not so good news

Firstly the good news: although my bone scan showed degenerative changes there was, according to the report, no evidence of bone metastases!

The not-so-good news is that I will indeed have to have another CT biopsy as apparently no results were obtained from the last one. I now await a letter from the hospital giving me the details. Perhaps my GP will prescribe something to calm me down before the procedure so I don't make so much fuss this time.

I just want the diagnosis, so that I can get started on treatment.

Monday, 4 May 2009

1st May: CT Needle Biopsy

You have to drink disgusting iodine stuff before a CT scan - one bottle the night before, and one bottle, diluted, two hours before. At least this time I had some orange squash to make it more palatable!

But the CT scan/biopsy was a nightmare, mainly because they couldn't find a vein in my arm (only one arm can be used because lymph nodes in the other were all removed in 2001). After four stabbing and sticking attempts to insert the cannula in my arm and then hand I was nearly hysterical, and without Sheila, the marvellous CT nurse, I don't know what would have happened.

The rest of it was uncomfortable and briefly unpleasant but only a little painful. Because I'd been so pathetic I had to go to the recovery room for a cup of tea instead of going straight home like a normal person.

Ominously, I left with the warning that if they haven't managed to get a decent bit of the tumour to analyse, I'll have to come back for another go next week.

I certainly deserve my next trollbead.

30th April: Bone Scan

Bone scan today at Medway Hospital. The nurse who administered the radioactive injection was very good with my feebleness, finding a vein quickly and relatively painlessly. I am unutterably hopeless with injections, having a needle phobia, and my veins are rubbish after chemotherapy in 2001.
A 2.5 hour wait, and then I returned for the actual scan. I remember my first scan at St Thomas's Hospital in London in 1988: then, the wait was 4 hours and you weren't allowed to leave the hospital, had to drink pints of water and pee in a special toilet because of the radiation.

After the scan I asked the technician if I could see my images. He refused to let me, saying he wasn't allowed to. This annoyed me - they're images of me, after all - but I could see the screens in the corner anyway, and a hotspot on my shoulder, where I have been having pain for the last 4 months, was very clear.

Now this doesn't necessarily mean bone mets, I tell myself. It could be arthritis. It could be. Results in about a week.

Second trollbead for my treatment bracelet.

21st April: Diagnosis

On Tuesday 21st April I sailed blithely along to an appointment with the gastroenterology consultant at Medway hospital expecting to be told that the pains in my side and shoulder for the past four months originated in my gall-bladder.

Instead he had to tell me that it was metastatic cancer.

Now, I've had two cancer diagnoses in the past, both breast cancer (nicely balanced, one each side, 21 and 8 years ago.) Despite that, I was stunned with shock, not expecting this twist of events.

When the pains began in late December 2008 my first thought was of course, liver metastases from my breast cancer. But I had an ultrasound within two days which showed no abnormalities in my liver, and so my mind was set at rest, though the pains continued. The ultrasound did, however, raise some questions so over the following months I had a series of diagnostic tests to the kidney area, and I did wonder what was going on.

But I still didn't expect to find out it was metastatic cancer, with a lesion on my liver and possible bone cancer in my shoulder.

Now I await a bone scan and a CT needle-biopsy of the mass in my pelvis. Whether it's the old breast cancer that's spread or a new ovarian cancer that's spread, I'll have to have chemotherapy, but the type of chemo depends on which cancer.

I've decided to make a treatment bracelet of trollbeads - one for each stage in my journey. Here is the first bead - of many, I sadly expect.