Clinical trial month twenty one

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Tuesday 1st September

An early start this morning to leave the house before 7am, as my first appointment at the hospital in Exeter is at 9:45am.

I am on month twenty-one of a clinical trial for the adjuvant treatment of malignant melanoma. A mole (the alien blob), on my left foot was removed in 2013, and the cancer was then found to have spread to the lymph nodes at the top of my leg.
Major surgery, a skin graft, a drain, cellulitis and lymphoedema followed.

I signed up for the Combi-Ad trial using drugs called Dabrafenib and Trametinib, beginning at the start of 2014. (In the first year I was traveling to the hospital every four weeks.) It is a five year study, and in year two I go to the hospital every three months for a dermatology check, blood and obs, a CT scan and an oncology consultation. Sometimes there are other check ups too.

My first stop today was with the consultant dermatologist. She checks me all over, carefully looking for any weird looking moles. None were found, thank goodness. But she did want to remove some seborrheic keratoses under my arms, using liquid nitrogen. It’s a very cold spray, that stings a little. She said these ‘things’, like warty moles, should go crusty, then manky, then fall off. How lovely.

I then had to go to another hospital for an appointment with my trials nurse, who took my blood pressure (pretty normal today), my temperature, pulse and weight. No bloods today for some reason.

I saw the oncologist for another full body check and a chat, then had a couple of hours to wait for the CT scan. We went and sat in the car, in the car park, to get away from the hospital germs ~ lots of people coughing and sneezing.

I had to wait awhile before they were ready for me in Medical Imaging, dressed in the ubiquitous hospital gown. Not a good look.
My vein was easily located and the radioactive contrast pumped in as I went through the machine. The procedure was over in ten minutes, and then we could begin our long drive home. I now have to wait a week for the results.
Scanxiety will ensue.
Melanoia will set in.
I will be anxious and perhaps a little paranoid, until I hear from my trials nurse about the results.
That’s what melanoma does to you.
Constantly vigilant.
Always hopeful.

It was after five o’clock when we stopped at the cemetery to visit you. The sun was casting long shadows, but it was still fairly warm. We told you all about the long, uneventful day, and how you probably would have been very bored. Or you might have gone off into the city with Dad to look at the shops, leaving me at the hospital. You liked Exeter, and used to enjoy browsing through the stores, feeling safe in an environment you knew quite well.

When we finally arrived home, I had a message from your brother’s girlfriend. Her mother had been taken into hospital, and has been diagnosed with cancer. (We’re not sure what type, or of the treatment.)
She is very upset, and will be flying back to Spain on Thursday to be with her mother.
We walked down to see her, as unfortunately your brother had to work tonight. We sat with her, talking and drinking tea. We then suggested a bit of fresh air, and had a walk along the harbour to see the high tide.
We left her making pizza for your brother for when he finishes work.
We said goodbye with lots of hugs and kisses and hopes.

Miss you sweetheart.
Love you so very much.
Beloved Angel son.
xxxx

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