Archive for December, 2003

Xmas Cheer

Posted in Writing, Cancer Journal on December 24th, 2003

Emma in hospital once again for same fluid problem as before. The chemo is to change again…

We are looking forward to being with her on Xmas eve and day. She is feeling better at the thought of presents and good company. Her main frustration is not being able to get out to buy presents and having to do it on the Web.

[And inspite of not being able to eat the great dinner Nik cooked, she laughed and joked all day. According to family tradition, we piled the presents under Mrs Porter’s Irish linen cloth and took turns to give to one another. Emma surpassed herself in giving as she always did and took great delight in what she received. In the movie she frowns only once when the camera intrudes on private chat with her sister.]

Unsent Xmas Letter

Posted in Writing, Cancer Journal on December 23rd, 2003

It is that time when people send their glowing reports of family successes. No-one ever writes when they are in trouble or if they are the letters never reveal it. Every time one arrives I feel angry and upset . So I wrote my own to vent my feelings but never sent it of course.

This year we have travelled over 60,000 air miles. When last year we came to Sydney, we had no idea of how that decision was to look in the light of events this year. Life had become so stale that an opportunity to refresh was too good to turn down.

Then we learnt that Emma was seriously ill. She had been experiencing symptoms for some time, going back again and again to doctors, having tests but with no resolution. In March 2003, when she was an emergency case, she had an operation to remove a large cyst and an ovary. At that time, there was no talk of malignancy but some weeks afterwards, the truth came out with further tests and she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. Another major operation to remove the remaining cysts and ovary and then the battle commenced to try to save her life.

If you have experienced cancer in the family you will know that the treatment is very hit and miss and the drugs attack the immune system and cause severe effects and sometimes death. She has been having chemotherapy since July and is suffering considerable pain and discomfort. Being Emma, she is resilient and cheerful and facing it with remarkable courage. It is hard to bear, not only because you can do nothing to take away her pain and fear but also the fear of losing her is on your mind every conscious minute. And as you wake each day unrested, that terrible fear greets you.

The prognosis is not good and the cancer is very aggressive. We can only hope for some good times for her and with her.

Every day is precious and life feels very much at the edge. We will be celebrating survival this Christmas. Wish us luck!

Is this chemo doing anything at all?

Posted in Writing, Cancer Journal on December 4th, 2003

Emma has been admitted to hospital for scan and drips after being unable to keep any food or fluid down. The fluid is being drained off. In the hospital Sunday night (30th) still there on Thursday. So much relief at being out of pain and in a safe place where she can sleep better. The fright of swelling up and being unable to eat comfortably has been too much. The signs generally are very worrying.

Is this chemo doing anything at all?

The doctor still says new drug effect is too early to say: some free fluid has drained but some pockets not accessible. The visible nodules from previous scan are no smaller. Plan to start food today. Treatment to continue as planned. 5th treatment put things back and this is why there is no progress. Hospital stay till Friday.

Loooking for a drug that will work by trial and error. If cells respond the chemo can be increased. She has had some response with the first drug which is good but they are currently not in position to really go for it.

Still looking for a cure but could change if nothing seems to work. Topetecan dosage can be up to: 1.5 – she is at 1.25 because of effect on bone marrow. Injections are possible but transfusion is better.

Eventful times; on Sunday my Dad was taken into hospital, after a night of not being able to breathe properly, to have a pace maker installed. He is now fully recovered and at home. A new lease of life at 88.