Sunday, 14 November 2010

Changing tactics

Since the last blog update, things have moved on. Not in a particularly bad or good way - just a change.

Mam had her first check up with her consultant since she stopped chemo, three or four months ago. Most of the time she's been fine, but there have been days when she's been sick, not eating much and generally not with it. The cystitis which marked the start of this whole thing has been on and off so she's been backwards and forwards to the doctor, trying different medication, with varying degrees of success. She had the stents changed that lead to her kidneys, and my sister is pretty convinced that simply having the stents there can cause cystitis.

These days I can pretty much tell when I phone mam, right from when she says "hello", approximately how she is - when she's having a rough time of it she sounds very fragile and quiet.

So hubs and I made the long trip up north for a long weekend in mid October, so we could go with her to see the consultant. Mainly because if it was bad news we didn't want her to be on her own when she got it, and also because she's said she prefers having someone with her to think of questions for the consultant that otherwise slip her mind.

Last time I went with her we had a near three hour wait; I know the NHS is pushed for resources but that's ridiculous. This time, we'd literally only just sat down in the waiting room and she was called! Mam's consultant, Mr Hughes, is lovely. Very friendly and approachable - whoever it was we saw last time had the manner of someone who just wanted to get the facts as he knew them, over - and onto his next appointment. Mr Hughes made it seem like mam was an old friend, someone he was genuinely concerned about, whose worries and questions he cared about. And he looked like Phil Spencer from 'Location Location Location's younger, slightly better looking brother ;-o

Basically the tiny hotspots of cancer that were left after the chemo HAVE begun to grow again, but in Mr Hughes' words, "nothing horrendous". And you could tell by his attitude that he wasn't terribly concerned. The options are either tamoxifen, which is a hormone treatment normally used to treat breast cancer - or a different kind of chemo from last time. She can stay on tamoxifen for up to five years, there are minimal side effects, it can have the effect of stopping the cancer in its tracks and sometimes it can actually shrink it. Or she could have the monthly chemo again but she'd feel slightly ill after each session (although not as bad as last time). After discussing it between the three of us, the decision was to try the tamoxifen and keep the chemo as a backup - and mam was given her first supply even before we left the hospital. She'll have a checkup with Mr Hughes every three months, then three months later a CT scan and review, and so on.

Here's to progress.