It’s a brand new year, so here’s offering you all my best wishes for 2018 and my thanks for your support in person, through correspondence, and on social media, which has been my main form of contact these past few months.
Having failed to send out a Christmas message due to my health issues, now it’s high time I updated you on my situation, especially as right now, I’m enjoying a good few days, helping provide me with a positive start to the year.
The Aravis mountain range in Haute-Savoie in the autumn © Wink Lorch
Although we are now based in London we were able to spend a couple of weeks at our French home in early October, admiring the mountains’ autumn clothing.
From mid-October the furthest I managed to venture was to medical appointments and occasional forays to the local Yurt Café in Limehouse or once to the Victoria Park Market. Today I managed half an hour in The Narrow pub, so a New Year victory of sorts.
The cosy Yurt Café © Brett Jones
Becoming a semi-recluse was forced upon me by pain when sitting down or bending, something we all take too easily for granted. Short walks have been fine, but for a while only being supine provided real relief.
It became obvious that the new treatments I was given, which I wrote about in September, were not addressing the pain from my Metastatic Prostate Cancer. So, at the end of November the oncology department at Bart’s Hospital decided to admit me for further investigations.
After a few days, I agreed for the team to take my treatment a stage further with the start of a course of Chemotherapy, mainly to help with the pain control. The plan is to continue this treatment on a 3-weekly cycle until March, coming into Bart’s as an outpatient.
So far, the journey has been up and down, as everyone warns about chemotherapy treatments – I managed to catch mild pneumonia, involving another short hospital admission before Christmas, and more recently, I found my taste buds disappeared making eating and drinking difficult.
But, overall, I have been in less pain and sleeping well as the pain drugs were also adjusted.
The Bart’s Christmas tree © Brett Jones
Our National Health Service is a national treasure, albeit with some imperfections, and the care and attention the staff give to me, and patients everywhere, is tip-top. But, during our lifetimes we all must help ourselves as well – our bodies are precious, and we must look after them as best we can.
I am receiving great assistance and support from St. Joseph’s Hospice, Hackney, which among other help organised for an occupational therapist to visit supplying me with a variety of useful aids to make my days and nights more comfortable. Most importantly St. Joseph’s provide an advice line and a wonderful consultant nurse, who has time – that most rare commodity – to talk through problems and to advise. All these services are provided free of charge – as are most other health services in the UK; the hospice is funded part by the NHS and part by charitable donations.
Family and friends, of course, are loving and supportive as well. I am lucky to be able to live with my cancer cradled by all this care.
I enjoy social media, particularly Facebook, where I can easily participate in the big world outside, continuing to share my own photos from my limited excursions. I have made it a policy not to share anything about my illness on social media, hence why I’ve decided to write about it here on occasional posts. Please excuse the lack of wine and travel posts – there are thousands out there that can fill your reading gap and, after all, this remains my very personal blog.
Even if what is going on around us can be particularly unpleasant and, at times, an unconscionable mess, communicating with friends of all ages the world over, gives hope for a better future in 2018 and beyond.
On my way in 2018 at The Narrow, Limehouse! ©Wink Lorch