Brett’s Funeral and Celebration plus Donations In His Memory

Brett’s funeral will be on Friday 25th May at 12 noon at St. Marylebone Crematorium in Finchley, North London. All friends are welcome. There will be a celebration of his life afterwards where food will be served and wine will flow. In order to help with catering arrangements, please contact Wink Lorch for more details and to confirm attendance.

In lieu of flowers, we request donations to St. Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, London, where Brett spent the last weeks of his life and who looked after him so well. Please donate through the on-line Just Giving page linked to above.

Thank you for the outpouring of messages about Brett, so much appreciated.

The Last Cheers

Rather too soon after the last post, Wink is sad to report that Brett died this morning, Monday 30th April 2018 at St. Joseph’s Hospice, Hackney, London. He was 73.

Wink, his children and his sister were by his side.

For funeral details in due course, please contact Wink directly.

If you wish to make a donation in his memory, please donate to St. Joseph’s Hospice, who cared for him so very well for the last couple of months of his life.

Wink asks you to share a good wine in his honour.

From the Wine Maestro Bedside

These past few months have provided a rather unpleasant rollercoaster ride both for me and for Wink and all my family. As we seem to have reached the end of the road, I have asked Wink to write this blog post to bring you, my loyal readers, up to date.

The chemotherapy treatment, which I mentioned in my New Year post, was too much for me and the pains associated with my metastatic (advanced) prostate cancer continued to worsen. Finally, in the second week of February I was admitted into Lourdes Ward at St. Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, not too far from home, for them to help manage the pain. I was expected to stay a couple of weeks. But, there I remain, almost three months later.

Unfortunately, shortly after arrival at the hospice, I suffered Spinal Cord Compression, which can lead to partial paralysis. Very quickly I was offered radiotherapy in five sessions at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (Bart’s) over the following week, which was essential for any quality of life at all. The stress for Wink and I going back and forth between Bart’s and St. Joseph’s took its toll and I became in much poorer health, before getting any better.

Enjoying some time out of bed at St. Joseph’s Hospice. ©Wink Lorch

The good news was that eventually, by mid-March, the pain began to lessen, and I started to regain movement, but had to adapt to new realities. Due to my lack of mobility and our home in Limehouse being very small, we decided that when I left the hospice, a nursing home was the only possible place to go. We were assured that due to my rapidly deteriorating condition, the State would fund this (how lucky we are in the UK). Wink researched possibilities and together we decided on Aspen Court, close to Limehouse and with a good reputation. It would also enable me to stay in touch with the excellent medical team at the hospice as it falls in their geographic area. But there was one problem: they had no rooms available, so I had to go on the waiting list. And I remain on the waiting list.

Meantime, the oncology department had agreed that chemotherapy was not a good solution for me and had prescribed some extra-special hormone tablets to attempt to slow down the cancer progression and thus the inevitable symptoms, including pain.

The hospice team managed my pain well and once the good effects of the radiotherapy became apparent, they reduced the drug doses to allow me to feel human again; they also helped me with mobility and many other matters. So, from the end of March I have managed to enjoy visitors more and have enjoyed several excursions out in the car with Wink, and later with Helen, my sister, to a couple of restaurants and to spend a few hours back at home in Limehouse. Although I have lost my taste for wine, I appreciated being able to eat different food from the hospice, but I’ve realised that my taste changes on a regular basis, which also affects my appetite.

Following a bad couple of days a week ago, when my pain returned with a vengeance, we have made some momentous decisions to decline further treatment including the hormone tablets, which may be contributing to the extreme fatigue I am feeling.

I am now most likely to remain in St. Joseph’s until my days end and that may be in a matter of a weeks or less – it’s very hard for anyone to tell, least of all me. St Joseph’s have kindly moved me to a larger room, which is more comfortable for visitors and less noisy. They have all the skills to help me to adapt to this new phase and allow me to end life as comfortably as anyone in my situation can. Please do support them if you can – they are 50% funded by donations.

Feel free to email or contact me via Messenger – I am happy to read messages when I can, but may well not reply. Contact Wink with any specific questions. Wink will post a final message when the time comes.

Thank you for reading this and all my previous ramblings. And thank you for offering your friendship, from around the world.

Keep making the most of wine, travel and life for as long as you can.

With Wink and Arnot-Roberts Trousseau at Noble Rot, September 2017. ©André Ribeirinho

New Year 2018

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.

New Year 2018

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.

New Year 2018

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.

New Year 2018

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.

New Year 2018

On my way in 2018 at The Narrow, Limehouse! ©Wink Lorch

Victoria Park Market

It was Sunday, sunny and we were hungry.

Having missed visiting the Victoria Park Market over the last few weekends, I was envious of Wink’s weekly foray a couple of miles north of us but always excited as she returned with a selection of delicious foods. As we unloaded the bags I was reminded of unpacking Santa Claus’ stocking early, too early, on Christmas morning.

Having taken some prophylactic painkillers, and a pillow to make the raked car seat more comfortable, we drove ten minutes to park near the entrance to the handsome Victoria Park, crossed the Grand Union canal to reach the market where stalls loaded with all sorts enticing foods and smiles lured us in.

Victoria Park Market

The first van greeted us with Tea and Crumpets.

Victoria Park Market

Victoria Park Market

Crumpets served, Good and Proper, with marmite and cheese.

Victoria Park Market

And talking of correctness, the Welsh Rarebit recipe is spot on.

Victoria Park Market

Buns lined up for real Burgers.

Victoria Park Market

Salty Loins, better than Bacon Butty.

Victoria Park Market

See what’s cooking at Dookies Grill.

Victoria Park Market

Organic mulled wine – naturally accompanies the tasty food.

Victoria Park Market

Now it was time to stock the larder.

Choosing from a boat load of fresh fish.

Victoria Park Market

Bone broth, just what I need; the Victorian answer to Sudafed.

Victoria Park MarketVictoria Park Market

The bakers.

Victoria Park Market

Victoria Park Market

Be game – brace, brace, from Pick’s Organic Farm.Victoria Park Market

Colourful tomatoes from the Isle of Wight.

Victoria Park Market

Cakes, pastries, pasteles abound – pop in to Popina’s,

Victoria Park Market

Galeta entices too.

Victoria Park Market

And, to finish off, Get Fudged!

Victoria Park Market

With bags full of foodie delights and delighted I lasted the course, we returned home, to relive the pleasure when we unpacked the bags after our market shop.

 

All photos ©️Brett Jones