Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Journeys recontinued



  1. We met again with the surgeon. There is no way he can can operate further to remove the melanoma. There is no stage measurement for this kind of melanoma, which he described as very thick, and spreading. We discussed likely future symptoms and what we should do if they occur. The worst liklihood is signs of personality change.

    Kathy's next op, which will be for cosmetic reasons, will be scheduled soon.

    Sorry I can't give better news. Thanks for all the kind messages. Will write again soon.

  2. Indeed, this is not good and my thoughts are with you both. Signs of personality change will mean that the melanoma has spread to the brain? Am I correct?

    All we can do is to be here for you and give you our support and a forum to perhaps vent at the damned unfairness of it all.

    Just do what you two do best...love each other and hold each other close.

  3. Yes, that's correct. It's the direction of travel. Radiation would need to penetrate to the base of the skull and is ruled out because the side-effects. There is nothing to do except wait. The surgeon wants us to have a holiday.

    So we will return to Tenerife as soon as possible after Kathy's next op. Her birthday is on 2nd December.

  4. Hello Ian

    So sorry the news is not more positive. Hope the cosmetic surgery will be scheduled soon, so you can get beyond the medical procedures and put your energies into sunshine and joy together.

    Kathy, your personality has burst out at us with a dazzling brilliance for some months now. Keep Dazzling...

    lots of love and warmest wishes to you both

  5. How soon will the cosmetic surgery be? I do hope very soon. I was wondering why you were specific about Kathy's birthday. Is that a target date to be back in Tenerife?

    As always, you and Kathy are in my thoughts.

  6. Hello Both!

    And thanks! I hope your are doing fine, Chris.

    We have the usual pre-op meeting next Wednesday, then the actual operation on 27th August. We are booked to return to Tenerife on 5th September, which is only 9 days later, and that is perhaps too soon. We'll just have see how things are closer to the date.

    I mentioned Kathy's birthday because it will be her 60th.

  7. Tons of luck Kathy and Ian, for next Wednesday's pre-op, and certainly for the 27th Hope the operation makes the facial muscles much more controllable.

    The 2nd December will be a day of Great Celebration, and you'll be blowing your candles with Gusto, Kathy!

    How are you going, Chris? Please keep us informed...

    Love and strength to you all
    karen xxxxxxx

  8. I am well and enjoying my family from the UK who are here on a visit.

    I go to the radiation oncologist on Thursday to set up the treatment schedule which I anticipate will start at the beginning of September. I (safely) delayed it a couple of weeks so as to be free for my family.

  9. Hi Chris

    Great that your family are visiting, and very glad you're well.

    The treatment is unending, isn't it. Marvellous that they work so hard to make you Stay well, but it must seem as if your innards are for ever waiting behind a wall to ambush you if you're not careful.

    I do hope the radiation can be fitted round the rest of your life without too much difficulty or discomfort. How long will the treatment period last?

    Stay well and positive, Chris, and please keep us informed when you can.

    Warmest wishes to you and John

    and love to all four of you blighted by this evil ailment

    karen xxxxxx

  10. Ian...thinking of you and Kathy as the 27th approaches.

  11. Hello Again!

    Yes, the operation is tomorrow, and hopefully Kathy will be back at home sometime in the afternoon. I'll be somewhere in the hospital grounds with my laptop, and I'll spend the time writing to you both.

    You are fabulous friends. :-)

  12. Well, what a marvellous day yesterday was. Kathy had her follow-up operation – the “nip and tuck” –and it has been a complete success. What a huge morale-booster for her!

    The ugly bulge in her lower cheek, and the drop in the corner of her mouth, both of which were disfiguring aftermaths of her previous operation – they’ve vanished - and the surgeon managed all this by simply re-opening a part of the scar that was left behind after her previous operation.

    Even more astonishing, Kathy was awake and chatting and joking and drinking a big mug of tea only an hour after being taken into the operating theatre. So what we had thought might be an all-day thing, simply wasn’t. And we feel like kissing the ground the surgeon walks on.

    So, there are only ten new stitches which will be removed next Friday in time for a celebration dinner that is being organised by Kathy’s daughters at a local nightspot.
    And on the following Sunday, it looks almost certain that we’ll be flying back to the sunshine and warmth of Tenerife. And what merry plans we have for when we get there! Catching up with so many friends who are residents there, and those who will also be returning from their summers in Europe, car ferry trips to see new islands, and a cruise to take us even further afield - wow!

    Happy days are here again, and long may they last!

  13. That is bloody marvellously FABULOUS!!! So thrilled to hear that (aWAKE during the op, Kathy - hell's teeth!).

    Continued and speedy and Joyous recovery!


  14. Hey, Karen, you beautiful, optimistic soul!

    Kathy wasn't awake during the op, but woke up damn bloodly quickly afterwards (maybe that's one of a thousands of zillions of reasons that you would love her too)!

    Karen, big, big kisses to you. I wish I could give you a damn bloody great big bear hug.

  15. Double click on the photo, and you'll see more than can be put into words.


  16. What I see is the beauty beneath the superficial scars, an inner tranquillity and amazing courage.

    I am humbled by this photograph.

  17. Oh Chris, the same damn bloody great big bear hug for you too.

    The brutal truth is, the melanoma is beyond control. It will kill Kathy. She knows it too.

    So we'll make every day we have better than the one we had before.


  18. Yes, I knew the truth when you first said that margins were not clean and there could be no further surgery. I think I sensed a timeframe when you mentioned her birthday...or at least a milestone to get beyond.

    This is brutal, as you say. All I can say is that you are so fortunate to have found each other in the first place and to have had some joyous years together. Your job now is to be strong, however hard that may be. And it will be hard. You know that. Bad times are ahead. So live each day to the full, as I know you will. Make memories to sustain you.

    Much love.


  19. Oh Kathy, you beautiful, beautiful person. I'm selfishly so pleased to have a physical image to go with the strong mental one I've had of you.

    If your life has to be cruelly shortened, it's certain that you and Ian will fit several fabulous decades-worth into whatever remains.

    Warmest, deepest love and happiness to you both


  20. You are both wonderful. Thank you both from the bottom of my heart for being here, for giving your time, and helping so much with your precious messages of support.

    There's so much more to say, but all I can do right now is to feel your care, and marvel.


  21. Fourth of 33 radiation sessions today. So far so good. The actual treatment takes two minutes. The whole thing takes less than half an hour, from leaving the house to arriving back home.

    There will be some "sunburn" and sensitivity in the treated area and I can expect fatigue to set in in a couple of weeks. I am being proactive ffrom the beginning, using the prescribed lotion to minimize skin problems and have gone fragrance-free and dye-free on everything from detergent to deodorent to minimize irritation. My diet is pretty good anyway, but I am paying more attention to energy-boosting foods.

    My downfall is exercise (to promote more energy). I don't get enough and it's been too hot (upper 90s for weeks) to even get out in the garden. How I wish I had never given away my treadmill! Still, I will find a way.

    CI, how are you and Kathy doing? i imagine you are busy packing up for Tenerife...or are you already there?

  22. Hello Chris!
    This sounds like good, steady progress! I guess that having a routine in place like the one you’ve described, and a regime for self-care, with a known target date for the end of the radiation, must all be hugely confidence-boosting for you. It’s a process, with a clear goal in sight!

    How about giving yourself a treat, and getting a new treadmill? Or some exercise dumbbells, like Kathy, or a book on Pilates, or Yoga? Or taking a trial membership at a Fitness Centre? There are so many alternatives! And as you say, I’m sure you will find something that suits you.

    Mind you, if you’ve got temperatures in the upper 90’s then all the easy options like walking, cycling, running, etc are definitely ruled out. Ouch, that’s hot! And much hotter than Tenerife.

    As for us, Kathy had her stitches removed yesterday, and we had our farewell party with family last night. Today, we’ve just got to the stage where we are looking at our overflowing suitcases and scratching our heads wondering what we’ve forgotten to pack.

    Kathy’s son-in-law will pick us up for the drive to the airport, and we expect to land in Tenerife at midday tomorrow. Some very good Italian friends will meet us at the airport in Tenerife to drive us to our apartment.

    We’ll be back in our sub-tropical paradise, and after everything that has happened here in England over the past three months, that will be a huge relief!

    Yes, we're happy and excited about our return. Yippee!

    Speak again soon, I hope!
    Ian xxx

  23. Hi Chris - sounds like you're in control of the radiation and everything that accompanies it. 33 sessions - how often are they and when will the last one be? Continued good luck dealing with them with your usual amazing strength.

    Ian & Kathy - how wonderful to be back in your Paradise so soon!
    As always, you sound explosively bright and positive - Joy-filled delights to you both!

    Warmest wishes and love to you all, Chris & John, Kathy & Ian

    karen xxxx

  24. Hi Karen: Radiation is every weekday for a bit over six weeks. That's why I am so grateful that i have a top-of-the-line radiation facility so close. The UK is short on facilities, so I understand, and some folks have to travel up to 70 miles each way every day.

    I calculate that as long as I don't miss any days for any reason, and taking into account Labor Day when they are closed, then I will be done on Friday, October 15th. That's two days before my Mum's birthday. You will recollect that she passed away last year at age 96. Now, I am far from being a religious person but nevertheless I have this cozy feeling that this is not a coincidence and Mum's spirit is hovering out there somewhere watching over me. Along with celebrating her life on that Sunday, I will have something to celebrate about my own.

  25. Chris, the radiation sessions are very densely packed aren't they, but what a Joy October 17th will be!

    Like you I have no religious feelings, but also believe that Essence of Beloveds hangs around us. That day will be a glorious celebration, and thank you for allowing us to share it...

    much love, karen

  26. Hi Chris.

    It's been awhile - this is just to say I think of you lots. It's not so long now, and you'll be OK. And that's important.

    So here's the best I can do, this smile.

  27. Hello, Both!

    Good to hear from you, Ian. I check in here on a daily basis. Kathy is always in my thoughts and I wonder how she is coping.

    All is going well on this end. 14 days into radiation and no side effects so far except for a "suntan" where I have never had one before and a bit of aching...nothing that a glass or two of wine doesn't banish.

    I have a new medical oncologist who is a joy, so now I have the perfect team. He told me something about my surgeon. Apparently he is so dedicated and careful that he actually hand carries the tissue samples he excises to the Path lab himself and watches over the testing. That's quite someting.

    But my big news is that my brother arrived today!! I am so very happy. And so very lucky to have a brother like him...and friends like you two.

  28. Chris - what happy news!

    Here's a huge smile - I'm happy for you!


  29. I didn't have any time yesterday to say much more, because we'd been entertaining. We've been back in Tenerife for just over two weeks now, and we've been incredibly busy re-establishing ourselves here.

    Kathy's scars are healing well. And after all the trauma of everything that happened in England, we are now settled back into our life here. We are lucky to have very good friends here, who have been as overjoyed at seeing us again as we have been to see them. And as each week passes, more of our expat community returns to the island, so there is a continuing feeling of excitement at the prospect of meeting old friends again.

    Maybe it's all a form of escapism, but we are being happy for as long as we can.

    I'm so glad things are going well for you too. I can imagine how happy you are to see your brother again. Brilliant!

  30. This breaks my heart because i know what you are both facing down the road. So escape. Be happy. Make memories.

    You are both much loved by so many people.

  31. We've just booked a holiday from our holiday home! A ferry to another island where we've never been, with our car, to a five star hotel. We'll be there for a week that includes Kathy's 60th.

    Now, it's up to me to create some magic in that journey. And I will!

    But your ideas will add to the fun...


  32. Have the room filled with flowers for when you arrive...a couples massage... a chauffeur and limo to the best restaurant on the island for dinner...a moonlight cruise around the island...see if it's possible to arrange a video hook-up with her children for birthday wishes...so much to do!!!

  33. Hi Everyone! I've been in disarray with visitors and haven't had time to dip in here, but how wonderful to catch up on your news!

    Chris, how fantastic to have such a terrific team with you through your treatment, and have Wondrous Times with your brother!

    Ian - bold and dynamic as always! Your five-star hotel break sounds fabulous, as do your brilliant suggestions, Chris! I can't think of anything better, but barefoot walks and champagne picnics are blissful of course...

    You and Kathy are such a joy-filled couple - you'd exude happiness with a sausage-on-a-stick in a downpour!

    Constant delights to you, and to you, Chris!


  34. Great ideas - I knew they'd be a-coming!
    Bless you both!


  35. A serious note about me...and a bit of a catharsis.

    For me, one of the by-products, if you will, of having a great prognosis and a relatively easy journey through this cancer is guilt. It has been quite overwhelming at times. Guilt at being so lucky when other women have so much more to deal with in treatment and then an uncertain outcome.I find it difficult to look upon myself as a survivor. I really have not suffered all that much. When I think of Kathy, which I do often,I find I cannot bring myself to talk about my progress on here without feeling bad.

    And then I talked to my radiation oncologist. She told me it ws normal. But the next thing she told me was much more important. She said that I needed to understand that other women in more challenging positions would be cheering me on, glad that someone was coming through this. They would not want me to feel guilty and certainly not sorry for them. They would want me to go forward.

    And so I will do that. Go forward, get well, and then work in any way I can to help find a cure, not just for breast cancer but for all cancers. One day it will come.

  36. Yes, that is a beautiful thought, Chris. I’d always thought there is little we can do, as individuals, to help find a cure - other than to help raise and give money to support cancer research. But you’ve made me acutely aware how important it is to give a little time, where we can, to help those who are affected by cancer. Both you and Dolores are doing that for me – brilliantly – and that in turn has helped me to stay strong for Kathy.

    Roll on October 17th! Your radiation oncologist is so right – we are cheering you on!

  37. I've just checked back over our comments - and it's earlier! October 15th! Even sooner than I'd thought! Hooray!!! :-)

  38. I asked the surgeon what to expect, and I was told:


    "Personalty Change"


    "We'll see what we can do".

    "And yes, go have a holiday".

    What would you do?

  39. Sorry, I'm angry, and I'm opening a new page on this.