Time for those (almost) end of year reflections!
This time last year I had completed six cycles of chemo and another four had been abandoned. So I entered 2019 pretty confident cancer would take a back seat for a while and I could get on with life. As usual, cancer had other ideas.
Increasing bone pain was treated with ongoing bone strengthening medication.
Anti depressants were tried and failed.
PSA started rising, but I was not informed.
I lost my voice in January. There were stories of a virus going around which caused temporary loss of voice, so I did not worry too much. It lasted for about a month then went away. It came back all too soon and it took a while for my medical team to join the dots and conclude that the cause was a tumour in my chest pressing on the left vocal cord nerve, rendering it useless.
Radiation therapy was recommended and, with a pretty negative prognosis, we did ten sessions over two weeks. Fortunately, it seems to have worked. After about six months of no voice I seem to have recovered. I say “seems” because a neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis scan in mid January will tell us more.
While we were working on the problem I started on a second layer of hormone therapy. I was very relieved when we agreed to drop it after radiation therapy was selected as the treatment. I am always happy to have another treatment up my sleeve!
How has all this affected me? Well, I have to confess that I have struggled. I have been depressed, fatigued, lacking sleep and drinking too much. The good news is that I am dealing with the alcohol thing, and it will probably help the others. Also, sometimes it is little things that help. I went to the health food shop recently to re-stock my supply of magnesium supplements. I take these for leg cramps. They often occur at night and obviously affect my sleep. Although recently I had leg cramps during the day while fire fighting. The lady at the shop suggested that I take them at night instead of the morning, and before I go to a fire call. Pretty simple really. It is early days, but it seems to be helping.
Volunteering has also helped. When I started with the rural fire service and at the cafe I was making a contribution and getting out, learning new skills and meeting people. Fatigue made these tasks challenging but it was worth it. However, circumstances have changed and I am not sure if I can continue with these activities. Time for some think music while I work out what to do.
And………I decided to learn the guitar. Helped by the fact that a good neighbour is a blues singer, song writer and guitarist. Plus he has a full blown studio and teaches guitar. I had an assessment and first lesson last week. I have been practicing chord progressions all week prior to my next lesson tomorrow. I am not quite nailing it but I have made surprising progress.
I talk a lot about me and not much about my wife and daughter. I want to keep this site personal and they can post articles if they wish. However, they are with me every step of the way and they suffer as well. I have struggled to be the man that I want to be remembered as. But I am feeling better over the last few days and I hope this continues. Then I can launch into 2020 with a new perspective. And if I can keep carving out more years to live life the way I want then cool!
We are going on a short holiday over Christmas for a well earned break and will eagerly await what 2020 brings!
Best wishes for good health and happiness over the Christmas and New Year period. Cheers, Phil