Thursday, 30 September 2010

A long view

18-00 hrs: I still produce graphs based on how I feel each day (according to my own score system) but I have not uploaded any of late. This one is a long view of this year - the single black line is a 28 day moving average.

I had a review with the consultant today and it looks as if Tarceva is doing the trick. I feel a lot better than I did and the Xrays show fewer cancer blobs. Keep on taking the pills!

The wonder-graph illustrates this and also shows the dip in July when Vinorelbine stopped working. I did get very used to the slight upward curve from March and found it hard to cope with the changes in July. So I am now glad to be able to demonstrate an upward curve again, especially as it has a much smoother trajectory such that I feel a little better each day - rather than having big ups and downs as I did before. The rash is very unsightly but - - I don't see it!

Next stop - rehabilitation - less boredom - more cycling and walking - and learning to like being retired.

Monday, 27 September 2010

First day of winter - geology trip to Orford

13-15 hrs:  Coralline Crag at Crag Pit farm, near Orford. Taken during a short break in the heavy rain on Sunday. It was too wet and cold to get the camera out in the morning to show rain-soaked members of the OU Geology Society (with a few of us from U3A geology group) looking at bits of rock around Orford. The bottom of the picture shows a bed of Bryozoan - which I had to read about afterwards to see their interest and importance. Details of the site - an SSSI

Lunch in a warm and dry tea-room overlooking the rain-soaked river - a good day inspite of the rain.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Last day of summer?

17-00 hrs: Today - cloud and rain - but yesterday - the sun shone warmly and I took the boat out downstream and back for a few hours - in tee shirt and shorts. Downstream - strong wind and tide against me - so used the engine a lot to achieve 2.5 knots. I returned at slack water - speeds up to 6.5 knots - a series of broad reaches interspersed with goose winging - full sail - a lot of wind - fun until I had to slow down to get into Woodbridge but I avoided moored boats - the main mishap was getting a lot of slime and weed in the boat from picking up a mooring. 

I am hoping this will not be the last sail of the year - just of summer-type sailing in warm weather. The boat can stay safely in the water for most of the winter and I have a lot of warm gear.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

autumnal foraging

20-00 hrs: picking sloes for various concoctions. 

The boat hook is very useful for foraging - we collected ripe sloes and elderberries along the Deben at the weekend. The blackberries looked nice and fat and ripe, but were tastless - so we left them.

I continue to improve gradually - and the rash continues to look pretty horrid - and I continue to want to scratch it.

Thursday, 16 September 2010


17-50 hrs: Rodinia broke up over 500 million years ago. 
I was right - rodinia and pre cambrian Scotland has kept me out of mishief this week - and distracted me from clearing up the mess in my house. Also a useful distraction from the main side effect of Tarceva - a rash on my face which I need to leave alone and not scratch! I think it is working - I feel OK - and not breathless. A bit lazy - but that is a side-effect of life.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Rodinia - a pre Cambrian continent

12-00 hrs: Let myself in for preparing a session for the U3A geology group on pre-cambrian rocks. This is the first continental mass (that is known about) - 750 million years ago. Scotland is attached to Canada - marked SC on the turqiose bit between the yellow (the core of ancestral Europe)  and dark blue (Gonwanaland) masses. 

 I think I am going to be beating my brain with this for the rest of the week - keeps me out of mischief I suppose - and also shows that I continue to improve.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Maritime Woodbridge weekend

20-15 hrs:  There were small, traditional beach boats with young people (notice one of them up the mast on the oyster smack beyond) - and larger boats moored for us to admire right along the river, from the marina to the sailing club. Lots of food stalls as well - a pleasant way to spend the days - especially as I avoided the re-enactment of Norman invasions. I spent a lot of time admiring the wooden boats - and trying to take pictures of them. 

I felt a bit better from the end of last week - maybe the Tarceva is doing something useful. Cross fingers, as it is good to have enough energy to enjoy things.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Scammell Dash re-scheduled for October 3rd.

12-16 hrs: The weather was too awful on Sunday to let the fleet out of the piers.  Sara has commented that the Dash is re-scheduled for October 3rd. We require decent weather then please!

High winds here too for days - and not enough sun. I feel slightly less zapped-out and a lot less breathless - cross fingers - - .

Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Scammell Dash - good luck to all

12-50 hrs: A view from the sea from Tynemouth to Whitley Bay. Why put it up here now?

Today is the famous 'yellow bouy race' from the mouth of the Tyne, round a yellow bouy off Whitley Bay and back to Tynemouth North pier. I used to run this race and we have some fun getting lost in fog and overwhelmed by wind. Tynemouth Sailing Club renamed this race as the Scammell Dash - good luck folks - the weather forecast shows 18 mph winds - gusting to 36 mph - so if they let you out it won't be boring.

See 11th February 2010 for a better picture with proper rough conditions.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

10-50 hrs: Another review with the consultant at Ipswich hospital on Thursday - encouraging too much introspection. I was very anxious and walked around the hospital (to get an xray and a newspaper) like a zombie. The xray showed slightly less cancer than three weeks ago and the discussion was about further treatment. 

I am now taking Tarceva (Erlotinib). This is a different sort of substance which belongs to a group of cancer drugs known as an epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors and is supposed to destroy the cancer cells without causing harm to normal cells. It is taken as a tablet every day and is apparently well tolerated - although there is a formidable list of possible side-effects.

No obvious effects or side-effects yet. Yesterday - the gym and a bit of hanging around in coffee bars. Today - the shops and a bit of hanging around at home. And then - less time spent looking inward and more going out - physically and metaphorically; and more pictures to flickr and on the blog

Friday, 3 September 2010

Chemotherapy details

12-45 hrs: Very confusing - and several of you have asked about it - so I thought I would write it down and hope it lessens confusion.
  • Sept to mid Dec 2009 - I was treated with a combination chemo therapy - carboplatin + vinorelbine. By November - the cancer did not show up on the Xrays anymore - although it was still there - just reduced in size and virulence.
  • mid Dec to early August 2010- kept under control with vinorelbine, which keeps the cancer cells from growing again. This works for some indeterminate time and then the cancer becomes resistant and starts to spread again - called 'progression'. At this time my general health improved and I generally galivanted about - and got a lot stronger by going to the gym and doing weight training. From March I took this as a capsule once every two weeks - which was a user-friendly way of doing it.
I think it started to resist in late June - but gradually - and in a rather up-and-down manner. It was clear on an Xray in August that it was growing again quite scarily quickly.
  • August 2010: I had one dose of a chemo-therapy combination called GemCarbo (Carboplatin + Gemcitabine) to keep further growth at bay (which it did) whilst it was ascertained whether I would be suitable for taking a relatively new substance - Tarceva (Erlotinib).
  • From Sept 2nd 2010 - Tarceva (Erlotinib): I take this as a tablet every day. It too only works for a limited period - until the cells become resistant to it - but how limited is not known - it varies from person to person.