Posted on December 10, 2015
It’s amazing how much someones life can change in just the space of a few days.
When I last left you I was going in Wednesday for testing to see if I was suitable for SIRT treatment (Selected Internal Radiation therapy). On Sunday night I wasn’t able to sleep, so I picked up my phone to look at a bit of facebook, and noticed that I had three voicemail messages – the notification had only just appeared. I take ages to listen to voicemails, but for some reason I did, at 1.30am, and there was a message from Dr S, left on Friday, saying that everything had changed, that he wanted me to come in Monday for testing, as he had a dose of the medicine available and if I got through the testing he would give it to me on Tuesday.
I woke Gaz up and we both felt completely rattled. I got a bit teary, and said I had psyched myself up to hear this news on Wednesday, and now I only had a few hours. A few more sleepless hours later, we were on the way to the hospital. I cried most of the way there, not sobs, just gently falling tears. I kept saying to Gaz imagine? Imagine if I could get this treatment? He begged me not to get my hopes up, there was too much against us with my previous liver treatments etc. When I met with Dr S prior to going in for the testing, he said that we needed one of two things to have happened….either my arterial blood supply had starting working again of it’s own accord and he didn’t think that was likely as they are very efficient at blocking it. Our only other hope was that other veins had formed a new pathway for blood supply, but in that case we would have to hope that any of these veins were near the tumours. He shook his head and said “we are going to need a lot of luck here”.
Off we went to the theatre, where he run 8 or so lots of iodine through my liver veins, through a catheter he put through my groin. He didn’t say anything during the procedure, though I thought I heard him sigh a few times and took that as a bad sign. Then, he finished up, removed the catheter from my artery in my groin and told the nurse to seal it up, and that he would be going into that artery again tomorrow. I thought I had had too much midazolam, and I said WHAT? He said yep, see you tomorrow, bright and early.
I rang Gaz straight away – he’d taken Georgia out for some lunch. I started howling and said it looks like our luck has finally changed. He burst into tears straight away and said he was coming straight back.
So on Tuesday I went into the hospital and they put the beads in. The vein blockages and arterial blockages didn’t seem to cause any issues at all and the Dr was able to get them where he wanted them. I had a lovely cheerful chat to him and the nurse unit manager afterwards. They said the radiation would be working straight away, chomping away on those tumours. They both felt strongly that SIRT was a great treatment and that statistics didn’t bear out how good it actually is, as a lot of people have little or no success with it, mainly from having it too late, as previously it was only offered as a “last resort” treatment, when patients had failed every other treatment.
Statistically, SIRT gives an average of 7.8 months of extra life expectancy. And I wasn’t out of life expectancy anyway, so what does that mean? That if it works, I could live more than a year. And by golly, I could have a lot more. There is a lady in our bowel cancer group who was in great peril when given SIRT in 2012…this lovely lady is still with us. Same doctor, too
Can you imagine what this means? Just a few weeks ago I was still relying on nothing but chemo to keep me alive. It is my last line of defence, and while working to keep me stable, it wasn’t shrinking the tumours. Though we have to look at stable as a win, as soon as it stops being stable, which it can do at any time, the downturn would likely have been swift and merciless. Just a couple of weeks ago I was being considered for a treatment that I was unlikely to be able to have, and here I sit, on this day with real hope, the prospect of real time. It’s absolutely life changing.
While all this was going on, there were major works underway in my kitchen. It’s all been demolished, flooring is all ripped up, and most of the kitchen units are built. A doorway has been widened which lets lots of light into the kitchen – previously a really dark room. I still have career dreams, but at the moment I am focused on a bigger dream, of gathering my little girls around me in the dream kitchen, cooking with them and helping with their homework. I am focused on 2 weeks at Mitta, where I will swim and bike and walk and dream of the next Christmas at Mitta. I’ll have a scan in a few weeks time to see if the SIRT is doing anything, but in the meantime, I will live on the hope of it.
Tomorrow is two years since my diagnosis. I was told that was the absolute best I would get, if I was very lucky.
My friend made this for me while I was in having SIRT, from a picture taken a few weeks ago.
I dunno, I reckon I look pretty good for a ghost?