Monthly Archives: July 2014

Holiday ~ the first five days


Wednesday 30th July

We land in North Carolina mid-afternoon, collect our bags, pick up the hire car, and we’re off. The start of our summer vacation begins; we’re off to South Carolina for a few days. The air is warm, the sky is blue, and after two flights, a total of over nine hours flying time, my leg feels surprisingly normal. I had been exceedingly anxious that lymphoedema and swelling would be a big problem. But no, all is good! A huge consumption of water and gentle exercises during the flight has paid off. Plus the wearing of my stocking/compression garment has kept things under control.

The weather this year is particularly grey and rainy, and we are unable to spend time on the beach as we would normally do. This is not as great a disappointment as I thought it would be. I can no longer sit out, sunbathing. It is not healthy for me or my skin.

We potter about, go shopping, visit with friends, and go for walks along the beach. It’s gentle, unhurried and relaxing. Just what a holiday should be.

Month Seven


Tuesday 29th July

Doesn’t time fly when you’re enjoying yourself?

Seven months down the line, and I’m back for my review; just the dermatologist for a skin check, trials nurse for bloods and obs, and the oncologist for an assessment, lastly the issuing of my next batch of medication.

All the appointments go smoothly, everyone is happy, and we leave smiling, thinking positive thoughts.

Our summer vacation can now begin! We start our drive to Heathrow, where we stay overnight, flying in the morning to North Carolina.

Plastic Surgeon


Monday 7th July

Almost eight months following my left groin dissection I have an appointment with my plastic surgeon to check progress. He is terrific, never rushed, and always willing to answer questions.

He is very pleased with the way the scar has healed, leaving just a neat silvery line in the crease  at the top of my leg.

He feels along the scar line for any new swelling ~ there is none!

He mentions that the skin graft on my foot could be made to look a little more pleasing ~ this was carried out by his colleague, using a split-thickness skin graft, and has been left looking a bit lumpy and scarred. I think it best to decline his offer at this moment in time. I don’t want to be out of action, limping and hobbling for a number of weeks ~ I think I can put up with a gnarly looking foot!

We make another appointment for a year’s time!

I had previously sought out my trials nurse to enquire as to the results of last week’s CT scan. I didn’t know whether the results had come through yet. They had…..

All is clear. Nothing has changed. Worry not.

We leave the hospital feeling massively relieved and wonderfully happy. Thank goodness.

Half way through the trial


Tuesday 1st July

The alarm wakes us at 5am, time for a quick shower before heading out on the road to Exeter for my six month review.

First stop as usual is with the dermatologist at 9am. Having stripped off, he checks my body with his dermascope, looking for any moles that might have changed colour or grown since my last appointment. No, all is ok, no dodgy looking blobs here!

Moving on to the second hospital, about a mile down the road, I search out my trials nurse who takes my blood pressure, temperature and weight. She also extracts four vials of blood from my right arm, unfortunately rupturing my vein in the process! I didn’t realise until I looked down and saw the blood soaked swab in the crook of my elbow! Whoops.

I then have a CT scan booked, so make my way through the hospital corridors to that department. I have to wait, in the very unflattering hospital gown, for three quarters of an hour. Hmmmm, didn’t like anxious waiting. Feeling very vulnerable and scared. Anyway, when it was my turn, I was put completely at ease by two marvellous technicians. The whole process is not very comfortable, but I’m soon finished and ready to move on.

An Echo is next. I get undressed, ready to begin, only to be told I need to be seen by the technician who carried out the last test. She is in a different room. Across the corridor. I can’t be bothered to get dressed, only to get undressed again, so I wrap a sheet around me, and dash across the hallway into the designated room! It’s a fairly lengthy procedure, looking at the 3D functioning of my heart. Many images are taken and measurements recorded. I wait for the printed report, then move on.

An ECG is next on my list. This is really quick, simple and painless! Strip off, have little sticky pads attached all over, about ten seconds later the data is printed off, and I’m out of there!

A visit to the Eye Department follows, and I do not have to wait too long. A quick sight test, reading those letters from a poster! Then the stinging eye drops are put into each eye whilst the ophthalmologist checks my retinas. I leave the room crying toxic yellow tears, dabbing my cheeks with a tissue!

We then have time for a quick bite to eat for lunch before heading off to the Oncology Department to meet with consultant. After a short wait it’s time to strip off again for a quick feel!!! Foot, leg, groin, pelvis, abdomen, neck, back. All is good. No lumps or bumps here. Thank goodness.

The final trip of the day  us to the pharmacy to collect my issue of a month’s worth of drugs ~ Dabrafenib and Trametinib ~ the Combi Ad trial tablets ~ or maybe they are a placebo.

Who knows?

Whatever; I’m under such close scrutiny with an awesome team, whichever arm of the trial I’ve been placed, I know I have been getting the most amazing care.

We arrive home over twelve hours later, tired, but glad the day is over.