Topic: Update from Ron Smith
It has been a little while since I posted about my condition, so this is a bit of an update. But first, a potted history.
Diagnosed with intra-hepatic cc in July 2006, I had a partial resection in August 2006. The cancer returned in February and the full right lobe was removed in March. Started a chemo trial in April (Capecitabine given as adjuvant chemotherapy) but within 4 days was in hospital with severe chest pains, later diagnosed as angina. Underwent angioplasty and the insertion of 2 metal stents into coronary artery in August. CT scans in July showed 3 minute marks on the liver and it was decided to have more scans after 8 weeks to see if there were any changes over that period.
The CT scans in October now showed 10 lesions so there is no doubt that the cancer has returned. Mr Powell, my surgeon is not convinced that the cancer is so aggresive that it has increased so dramatically in such a short time but, rather, suspects that there were more tumours in July but they just could not be seen. Anyway, the bottom line is that neither surgery nor RFA is an option this time. The lesions are too spread out that he could not get them all. Mr Powell did, by agreement, refer my case to Professor Peter Lodge at Leeds and he has now written back agreeing with this prognosis and recommending chemotherapy. This course of action had already been advanced and I have met with Professor Evans at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow. His recommendation is palliative chemotherapy and it is my choice whether to start it just now or wait until I have symtoms. Rightly or wrongly my simplistic view was that it must be better to start it sooner rather than later, so giving the drug the chance to act on smaller tumours. The down side, of course, is that just now I am feeling very fit and well and the drug could affect me badly, all without any actual benefit. The plan was to start a course of Gemcitabine in early December but my wife has now learned that she is to undergo surgery to remove her gall bladder on 10 December. Even with laparoscopic surgery she will be laid up for some weeks so the start of the chemo has been postponed until January.
The return of the cancer was not unexpected but is still very disappointing. As I have already written, I am feeling very fit and well, in fact have never really had any symptoms so it is difficult to envisage what lies ahead. I have been told that the end will come sooner rather than later but no one will/can put a timescale on it. However, the medical reports have succeeded in getting me various financial Social Security benefits in advance of the usual waiting periods. So the government department has been persuaded that my condition is terminal. Now there is a Catch 22 definition if one was ever needed. You can get the benefits early but you have to prove you are going to die soon!
A bit of a ramble but one final thought. We often read about the poor state of the National Health Service in the UK and how it compares with other countries. I have had 2 liver and 1 coronary surgeries. I have had and will continue to have a wide assortment of drugs and medications. I have regular CT scans and have had a PET scan. In all my visits and stays in hospitals and other health centres I have received, in my opinion, very professional, personal and friendly care. The total cost to me is my transport costs (say