Monday, February 15, 2016

The uncertainty continues

Chapter 16 – more CT scans, more data

Life is full of uncertainties. For example: Is this the worst cycle-lane pinch-point in Cambridge?

Does anyone in the University of Cambridge administration actually care about this awful junction design? Will our campaign for a safer Huntingdon Road succeed in getting an improved route for cyclists? When will my tumours cause actual trouble?
Data trickle in. We have heard that the University has now (about 3 and a half months after we suggested it) started talking to the land owners about the possibility of buying a thin strip of land to enable the pavement to be widened into a shared-use pavement and off-road cycle path, as indicated in the diagram below.
will I live to see this road made safer?
And I had a CT scan 8 days ago and saw the big chief oncologist today, and he said that the CT scan shows that three lymph nodes in my chest have got significantly bigger (they are all about 10mm wide). He reckons that this probably means the lymph nodes are cancerous, which may not matter too much, because they have room to grow into; but he reckons that there are probably similar secondary tumours elsewhere, and the fact that the lymph nodes have grown in size so soon after I stopped chemotherapy is bad news. Somewhere else, something is probably progressing. When I asked for more information about what 'progress' leads to, he mentioned "six months"; I think this was a worst-case scenario life expectancy.
He thinks I should be offered new treatments. He mentioned two standard treatments using taxanes which are yew tree extracts. One is called docetaxel, and one is paclitaxel. Alternatively I could get experimental treatments. He's going to refer me to the Marsden hospital, where they have trials of (a) a STAT3 inhibitor, which is hoped to interfere with cancer stem cells, and (b) Pembrolizumab, a checkpoint inhibitor. They are all rather unpronounceable and difficult to spell.
I'm disappointed to be back into the chemotherapy system so quickly – I was hoping for a good six months' break or so. And maybe to avoid life being just non-stop chemo, maybe I'll reserve some time for holiday and fun.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to meeting doctors in London; it'll be nice to get more opinions about what should be done with me.

One unexpected finding is that the CT scans show that I have two inferior vena cavas, where most people have only 1.
Other news: Torrin has learned to ride a pedal bike. Eriska has learned how to put duplo pieces together. We've all had upset stomachs and colds, and I'm currently languishing uselessly at home with a frozen-up back, which, frustratingly, is so sensitive that I can't get on and off a bike.
We have continued our movie-watching spree, and have seen a few more goodies...
We really enjoyed The Big Short, although it is possible that the equally good documentary Inside Job gives more insight into the explanation of who was to blame (e.g. Goldman-Sachs) and who ended up making loads of money (Goldman-Sachs), thanks to their undeserved bail-out, and who still makes loads of money. ☆☆☆☆☆
We bought the Full Monty style Pride on DVD, about an alliance between gay rights campaigners in London and miners in Wales. This felt a bit predictable in places (especially when Imelda Staunton and her gaggle all overnighted in a gay couple's house, magazines, toys, cackle cackle, ha-ha), but the true-story aspects were striking and memorable. ☆☆☆
Back in the cinema, we thought Trumbo was a fantastic film. A lovely portrayal of blacklisted hollywood during the McCarthy era, doing a good job of portraying different responses to the horrible situation; I especially liked the big argument between Trumbo (the writer) and the big actor who didn't take a stand like Trumbo. And the Goodman Director character was brilliant. ☆☆☆☆☆
When we turn to Netflix, we often struggle to find anything that we want to watch. Perhaps it's just that Netflix has a really bad user interface. I don't know. Anyway, while scraping the bottom of the Netflix barrel, we stumbled on Cowboys and Aliens, which opens as a really well made Western film, then turns into a "what would happen if the flying saucers arrived during the gold rush?" film, with an implausible balance in the fight being achieved by ensuring that the aliens' weapons always fire just a bit behind the fleeing humans, not at them. ☆☆☆
Finally, we watched, again, the lovely Angel's Share. ☆☆☆☆☆