Archive for April, 2011


Latest Update

April 5, 2011

Well, a long silence on the blog normally means one of two things – everything is moving along nicely, or something bad happens and it’s just too hard to find the words.

Sadly, this time it’s the latter.


Two weeks ago, Thursday 24th March, Andy started to lose his appetite. Then he started to get pain in his abdomen. By Friday morning he had a fever and the pain was worse, so we took him to A&E at the Lister in Stevenage. He had a chest and abdomen x-ray which showed nothing, and blood tests which showed his inflammation markers were up. Not dangerously up, just enough to raise concern in someone who’s had 9 months of chemo. So, much to our annoyance (as we were supposed to be leaving to go to Plymouth at 3pm that day and especially as three doctors had said he seemed ok) the gastro surgeon decided to keep him in overnight. A mystery pain and fever can indicate a tiny perforation of the bowel which, if left untreated can cause blood poisoning.

But paracetamol had dealt with the pain and his temperature was ok. So they promised to come back at 8.30am the next morning to discharge him so we could still get to Plymouth in time for the race. However, 8.30am came and went, and the bloods hadn’t even be done, and the doctors were now in surgery until half ten. So my wonderful, crazy husband discharged himself, we went home, put the bike in the car and drove for 4 and a half hours. Incredibly lucky with traffic, and not needing to stop much, we made it in time and he got to race. And he was SO good. He looked confident and quick coming down and finished 34th out of 58. They even called him out at the end and interviewed him about his battle with cancer, and then he went out clubbing until four in the morning. It was a wonderful day and I am so proud of him.


But the following morning the pain was back, so we decided to take him back to hospital. So lots more driving, and another 6 hours in A&E, in our usual bay. (At the QE2 in Welwyn this time as that’s where his surgeons are based, his oncologist has a clinic and we know the nurses on the surgical ward.)  They did a CT scan on Monday to search for the bowel perforation.


There was no bowel perforation. There was tumour in the liver. 3 times bigger than it had been 3 months ago.

There was no bowel perforation. There was, basically, a death sentence.


When I got the text from Andy asking me to come to the hospital on Tuesday I just knew that my heart was about to be broken. I ran into his room and I saw his face as he handed me the CT report and I felt that crushing weight of the inevitable just hit me.


And then, as Andy told me about how they told him, the anger kicked in.

Half 8 that morning a surgical registrar walked into his room, told him the facts, handed him the report and left.


He didn’t call me.

He didn’t ask a nurse to accompany him.

He didn’t even tell a nurse.

He didn’t stop for a moment to think about the implications of what he was saying.


Thankfully, a couple of the nurses who we knew from last year had spotted me running down the ward and were there to look after us and our family over the next few days. The registrar got verbally bitch slapped by the nurses, the ward manager and I think his consultant had a “chat” as well. He came and apologised the next day, and I hope he realises how much extra pain is caused when you give someone that news when they’re alone.


The rest of the week was just a case of seeing all sorts of people – the medics (I think we should mention Dr Raine who was just brilliant – really understanding and supportive. If you’re in the QE2 and want a gastro doctor – get them to page him!) and Dr Polychronis (the oncologist.) He has ordered tests on the original tumour to see whether there’s any biological drugs that could be used to possibly prolong Andy’s life – without treatment we’re looking at 6-9 months. If a new drug is a possibility that might lengthen that by a month or two, but we’ll have to see whether it’s worth spending the time in hospital, side effects etc etc.


We also met the palliative care nurses who take control of pain relief once you’re discharged from hospital. Between them and the medics they’ve come up with a plan of MST tablets (slow release morphine – 10mg twice a day) with codeine and Oramorph for any breakthrough pain. He’s also on a week of antibiotics to clear up any infection left and has started steroids to reduce the inflammation in the liver (which in turn will hopefully reduce the pain)


They released him for weekend leave, he drove to Shropshire, rode his bike a bit, stopped when it hurt too much, and watched his friends for the rest of the time.


He was officially discharged on Monday and now we’re back at work and just trying to carry on. We’ve booked holidays and a day trip to Paris and fun things to do, and we’re going to spend the summer together and just enjoy each other’s company.

Will write more when I’ve got the emotional energy to do so, but for now just a big thank you to all of our wonderful friends and family who have been so supportive over the last week. We love you stupid amounts.