Off the top of my head -
Cancer news and developments & other random thoughts.
2015, 2016, 2017
Posted Friday 16th June 2017
I went to Lister this morning for an appointment with Mr Hanbury my urology surgeon. He wnated to check up that things were going well with only one kidney. From all the scans and tests it seems they are and he was able to compare the scans from before my kidney operation 2 years ago with the most recent ones to see how my 'innards' are. Everything seemed OK and he has asked for an appointment with one of his team in 2018. While waiting to see him the Urology Nurse who I saw last year passed by and he recognised me and we chatted about how things are. He has now moved across to oncology within Urology rather than being a general Urology Nurse. All being well I expect to see him next year, but he very kindly gave me his contact details in case I need to get in touch before.
Next Thursday I'm going to QE11 in Welwyn Garden City to see the Colorectal Nurse for my 6 monthly check up and she will plug me in for a ct scan in the next month or so.
I've been managing side effects from the treatment OK but they still remain a nuisance. We had a short holiday to Portugal in May, staying at the same villa as last year's main holiday. It was lovely to return and meet Cynthia and Andy, the owners, again, along with their dog Bruno and their three cats. Tavira was as beautiful as we remembered and we were able to drive up toward Spain to see Manta Rosa where some friends have a villa. The beach was so inviting. It did get quite warm (36 degrees some days) but we managed without the air conditioning. We went out every morning and after having lunch we returned to enjoy the pool, then out again for an evening meal somewhere in town. The flights (easyJet) were excellent as usual but Faro airport was in a bit of a state with building work and development.
Posted Friday 19th May 2017
Revd The Hon Maurice Peel MC and Bar
Maurice Peel was Rector of Wrestlingworth and Eyeworth in the early 1900s. He moved to another parish and then served as a Chaplain in the First World War. He was awarded the MC and Bar and came home to recover from injuries and he became Vicar of St Editha's Tamworth. He returned to support the men in the trenches and was killed on the battle field on 14th May 1917, while visiting a forward machine gun post and rescuing the injured. Last Sunday’s service of Commemoration
& Thanksgiving held at Tamworth Parish Church was a moving and solemn
Serving Chaplains from the Army were
present and took part, including the Chaplain General. Bishop Alan preached the
sermon focusing on the importance of remembering.
Two wreaths were blessed and one was laid
in front of the Maurice Peel window in St Editha’s and the other will taken and
laid on his grave in France this weekend.
The Peel Society arranged the service
and they welcomed guests and visitors to the service. The Secretary gave an
address about Maurice, his life, ministry and work. The hymns included He who
would valiant be, Onward Christian Soldiers, I vow to thee my country, and the
It was a great honour to have been
invited to the service and to lead the prayers.
Interestingly the Senior Chaplain of his time, Revd
Eric Milner-White, said prayers over Maurice’s grave. Eric also wrote the
preface to the service of Nine Lessons and Carols which we use each year. I use
the words ‘Lastly let us remember before God all those who rejoice with us, but
upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which no man can
number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom, in this Lord
Jesus, we for evermore are one’, as we remembered Maurice. I think that maybe he had the his experience of the carnage and death on the battle fields of WW1 as he wrote was has now become a cherished English tradition at Christmas time.
Posted Thursday 4th May 2017
I just wanted to let you know that I've been discharged today from the neurological dept at hospital. I started seeing them last October, through the GP, because of persistent pins and needles, slurred speech and unsteadiness. I had along session with a Registrar and she sent me for an MRI on my brain, and also for long tests involving putting electrical charges through my fingers and legs to measure responses. I went back today to see the Consultant who said that he thought everything looked fine - the test results were good and my brain scan was 'remarkable' for a 64 year old. Not sure what he meant by that other than it was in good shape for a 64 year old! He said that because more people were surviving cancer they were now seeing more evidence of the long term side effects of the treatment more often. It's good to know that these things are as a result of the treatment rather than anything else more sinister.
Posted Tuesday 17th January 2017
It's been in my mind to do this and on the spur of the moment I rang the Colorectal Nurse earlier today to ask if the results of the blood test from December and the CT scan last week were available. It was lunch time and no one was in the office so I left a message. Helen rang back to say that all was clear - I half expected/hoped that this would be the case, but, of course, you can never tell for certain. Anyway what a relief - another 6 months time I'll go through this again.
Today I've been working in the study and among other things, I completed 2 on line training sessions - both connected to me being a school Governor. The last thing to do is a test - which needed a good percentage to pass, which I'm glad to say I achieved. I whizzed over to Wrestlingworth for a quick visit to St Peter's which is having a team in to clean the interior walls. It will look lovely when it's done.
Posted Monday 16th January 2017
Last Monday I had my CT scan - my appointment was for 9am and I got there early. The letter said to expect to stay for at least an hour and a half. I checked in and sat waiting - the nurse appeared with a jug of what is usually a quite revolting drink and asked me to take my time but to drink it all (about 1 litre) which I did and thankfully it didn't taste as bad as I expected. I got changed into the fashionable hospital gowns - I had 2 to put on, one on the right way and the other back to front to cover any unfortunate sightings from the rear! My clothes were kept in a plastic bag - note to self remember to take slippers. Socks and outdoor shoes are not the best look with flimsy gowns. After a while I was called to have a cannula fitted. As usual it was a bit of a job for the nurse to find a vein but she managed and after testing that it had struck the right place (a syringe full of saline) I was ready to go. I went back out into the waiting room (which is really the passageway) ready to be called through. My name was called and in I went. The scanner is a bit like a long doughnut shape with a bed which slides into it with me on it. As I lay down the radiologist checked my cannula again and connected me to an iodine solution which would then be pumped into me as the bed carried me into the machine. They left the room and in went. I felt the effect of the iodine but not as I described earlier - I certainly felt the warm feeling in my body but it was my ears which felt it the most. A bit like going red with embarrassment! Anyway it was soon over and the radiologist came in to disconnect me . I left the room and was given a timer set for 20 minutes and invited to get changed back into my normal clothes and then waited for the timer to go off when they would remove the cannula and I was free to leave. I felt fine - I don't know what side effects might have happened but as I had nothing obvious I left and drove home. The results will be available in a few weeks time and I'll ring the Colorectal Nurse to see what they are.
Posted Thursday 29th Dec 2016
Over the past few months things have been progressing - some side effects continue to affect me - the pins and needles are a nuisance, slurred speech is an issue, unsteadiness occurs from time to time but I no longer use a stick to help. Forgetfulness is a pest as I get stuck for words. My hips are still uncomfortable - not painful just stiff and I find it a challenge to get up from the floor if I kneel (an occupational hazard!) or squat.
Since September I have come to realise that trying to 'work' part of each day does not work, I have found it difficult to not overload my diary so now I put a mental line through a few days each week and try to work from home only visiting when I have to. It works much easier doing this. I have tried to cut back on evening meetings - obviously that's when I'm most tired and find it difficult to think and speak clearly!
We managed few days in Iceland in the October half term which was quite an experience. The country of Vikings and volcanoes! We stayed in an apartment about a mile or so from the centre of Reykjavik - I managed the walk into the city and we enjoyed our visit very much. Melanie had taken Sam last year and decided that when I was well enough we would go together with Sam. The food was amazing but everything was expensive. I did wonder about whether I'd manage with all the issues around having a colostomy but thankfully it all worked out fine.
Advent and Christmas in the parishes was a lovely time. I'm still only taking one service each Sunday unless it's absolutely unavoidable to take more. I have several hard working colleagues who help to cover services along with Readers who come in to take services each month at Wrestlingworth and Eyeworth. On Advent 4 I took the Parish Eucharist at Wrestlingworth and then the Lessons and Carols at Dunton in the evening. On Christmas Eve I took the 6pm Lessons and Carols at Wrestlingworth then the Midnight Mass at Dunton at 11.30pm and on Christmas Day I took the 9am Parish Eucharist at Wrestlingworth. It felt a very different Christmas mainly I think because of a whole week between Advent 4 and Christmas Day and this gave more time to think and prepare. A retired Priest is very kindly taking the Benefice Eucharist on Jan 1st at Dunton.
Medically I've been to have various tests because of the unsteadiness and slurred speech but nothing untoward was found and it has been put down to the chemotherapy. Earlier in December I had my second post treatment check up with the Colorectal Nurse. She examined me and all was well. I had a blood test and await the results, and the nurse plugged me in for a CT scan which has come through for Jan 9th. I'm not sure if I have to drink horrible fluid before the scan or whether it's just being injected with iodine - I hope it just the injection. Drinking the fluid is awful! The injection causes an interesting side effect - it's pumped in as I go into the scan and it feels (if I may be so crude) as though you've wet yourself. You haven't of course, but there is that warm feeling!
Posted Saturday 3rd September 2016
It was 4 months ago last Thursday that I made the cautious return to ministry and gradually over those months I have grown stronger and more confident - there is much to be thankful for. People in the Benefice have been kind and understanding, encouraging and helpful. There has been goodwill and kindness as I've sometimes processed unsteadily up the aisle and as I've wobbled up the steps. Gradually over these past months things have and are becoming easier.
There are still challenges ahead as I begin to take up ministry but I will take 'one day at a time' and accept the limitations of what I'm able to do.
The really good news is that the results of my scan were 'all clear' - I was delighted to get the message from one of the Colorectal Nurses at Lister. I will check when the next scan is due - I think it's in six months.
Posted Monday 15th August 2016
We're home after 2 weeks in the glorious sunshine of Portugal - a really restful, relaxing time. It was the holiday we should have had last year. When we cancelled because of my cancer, the villa owners (Cynthia and Andy) very kindly gave us our money back including the non -returnable deposit, so we were delighted to book it again for this year. [http://www.theholidaylet.com/villa/tavira/portugal/12107] We flew by easyJet from Luton to Faro and hired a car from Faro. Everything went smoothly. Take off was at 6.30am and landed at about 9.15am - a short flight. Car hire was easy and we were able to negotiate our way to the road where the track to the villa lie. We were very early so decided to drive on to Tavira the nearest town. We found a place for lunch and then drove back to the track to make our way to our villa. 2 km along the track was our home for the next 2 weeks - a wonderful isolated, beautiful villa with a pool. Everyday was sunshine, everyday we went out to visit places in the morning and after lunch, return to laze by the pool in the afternoon. Reading, dozing, watching the Olympics, dipping in and out of the pool. Wonderful. Our return journey home came far too quickly! It took a bit of time to get used to driving on the wrong side of the road and changing gear with my right hand, but Melanie was good at spotting possible hazards and kept me from too many mistakes.
Before going I read up on as much advice as I could about travelling with a stoma. Everything said take more than you think you need, so I stashed boxes and medical items in the various items of baggage. The tourist info about Portugal was that public toilets were not usually available and that those in restaurants were not always of a good standard. I was so anxious that in the end I think I took a good 6 months worth of gear!! As it happened I didn't use more than I would usually have done and so had to lug it back to the UK. Better safe than sorry - if things had gone wrong (and there are many things that could have) then I would have needed to know I had enough kit to survive. I not only had the colostomy to manage but also the wound which needed extra medical kit as well. There were things to be anxious about - more so because I had not travelled so far with these conditions to manage and look after. (By the way, public toilets were not as bad as I had been warned.) So now we're back - more tanned than we were before, and feeling more confident about travelling and managing things.
Time for a beer I think!
My favourite spot to rest after a hard morning out.
Side effects remain a bother - pins and needles in my finger tips hang around, unsteadiness persists, my hips are still stiff, but the really good news is that when the Community Nurse called to check on my wound this morning, it appears to have now healed over. I had to confess to her that while on leave I had not had it dressed - maybe 2 weeks of not being disturbed had helped, who knows. She was delighted to say that there was no sign of it. Wonderful. I have kept contact numbers just in case.
Posted Tuesday 26th July 2016
Well, what is there to write? Last Friday I had the awaited CT Scan at Lister. I went remembering the last CT I had when I had to drink a couple of pints of 'liquid' flavoured with orange. It tasted quite revolting and had to be drunk over the space of an hour. When I was called in I was wired up with an IV for an iodine solution to be injected as I went through the scanner. Last Friday the only thing I had was the IV. Thank goodness I didn't have the awful drink. When I asked why no drink I was told it depended on which Doctor made the request - they all like to do it differently. I'm not sure when I'll get the results. A couple of weeks perhaps. The results from then blood test which I had last month were OK and didn't show any development so hopefully the scan result will confirm that.
People I meet say that I'm looking much 'better' - not sure what that means at the moment. My usual response is to say that I make a good impression of looking well! There are days when I can walk almost without a sense of unsteadiness and I feel a bit of a nit because I carry a walking stick. But other days I really do need it. I'm still taking one service each Sunday but hopefully I will begin to feel that I can do more. Last Sunday was the Patronal Festival at St Mary Magdalene, Dunton. It was good to be able to lead but afterwards I felt very tired so I was glad not to have to get in the car and dash to take the next service in another church.
Posted on Tuesday 28th June
Last Monday (June 20th) I went for an appointment with the Colorectal Nurse at Lister Hospital, Stevenage. Melanie and I didn't have to wait too long before we were called in by Jackie one of the CR Nurses. We spoke about how things were, side effects, and coping with the stoma. Jackie checked me over and was pleased with the way things were. After we left her we went down for me to have a blood test and now I'm waiting for an appointment to come through for me to have a CT scan. This will be the first since finishing my chemo sessions in February. I feel well, apart from the continuing side effects. People I meet often say how well I'm looking - which is good. But my wobbly walking continues to be a problem, my finger tips have pins and needles and numbness, and I'm still getting tired. These things remind me of what I've been through in the past year. Tomorrow (St Peter's Day) I will celebrate 30 years since my being made a Deacon at Wakefield Cathedral. Bishop David Hope presided and many family and friends came to support this very special day. We invited people back to our home in Knottingley, near Pontefract where I served my Title as Curate. It was a lovely sunny day and good to meet up with so many friends. Quite a few came to Wakefield Cathedral from St Andrew's South Harrow, where I had served as Church Army Captain after leaving the CA College in Blackheath. Tomorrow will be made special as Melanie and I go to St Albans Cathedral for Evensong at 5pm followed by supper with the Bishop of St Albans along with others who celebrate their ordination at this Petertide.
Posted Tuesday 31st May 2016
It's a cold, windy and pouring with rain day today as the month of May draws to a close. It seems like a good time to reflect briefly on how things have gone since I started back in ministry on May 1st.
Overall, I think that it's been OK - there have been one or two days when overcrowding my diary has meant that I've felt really tired as the day wore on and in the evening I was left feeling really tired. Most days I'm crashing out early and am often in bed by 10 or 10.30. Being back at the altar on a Sunday has felt really good. Not sure whether I should confess to this but almost all of the time I was off I didn't miss being 'in charge'! Sunday's came and went and I tried to get to church as often as I could, but most slipped by as I felt too poorly to go anywhere. I think that sometimes I needed to give myself to what was going on in me, and to allow what I used to do so regularly as a part of my life and faith to carry on. I think that knowing that others were there leading and worshipping, sharing in the Eucharist was enough to sustain me. Of course priest frends came to bring me the Sacrament and those times were so important, and I'm very grateful for all those visits.
Sundays have changed and the biggest change is not having to dash between the churches. The tension of keeping an eye on the clock so as not to be late was always in the background. Now I can just enjoy the fellowship and 'hanging around' at the end of a service knowing that things in the other parishes are being looked after by others. Quite how priests cope in larger Benefices of 5+ parishes is beyond me. I remember reading an article about a Vicar (from the Lincoln Diocese I think) who spent most of his Sunday's travelling around and dashing inbetween the services from one parish to another. Thankfully my Diocese is now exploring a scheme for training Lay Leaders of Worship to enable services to continue when a Priest is not available. With the huge number of Priests (including me) who are approaching retirement and there not being enough Ordinands to take their place the church is going to have to do some serious thinking about developing leaders of worship. Lay Readers (now called Readers) are a precious resource but there's not enough of them to cover all the ministry required, so it will be interesting to see how the developing role of LLW works out in St Albans. I'm certainly looking for people who might want to consider undertaking the training for this.
Trying to do less in the evenings seems to be working. PCC meetings at Dunton and Wrestlingworth have been held in the day time which has turned out to be convenient for everyone. Eyeworth is yet to meet but this will have to be in an evening due to members work commitments. Involvement with the 2 church schools is being staged too. I've met with the Headteacher and Chair of Governors to talk about what's possible. Hopefully taking Collective Worship regularly and attendance at the Governors' meetings will begin in September. In the meantime I am welcome to do what I can and to visit the schools.
I went to the May Chapter meeting and it was so good to meet up again with clergy colleagues. The Deanery has to prepare for a visit by Bishop Richard in November to introduce new ideas and expressions of Living God's Love, the Diocesan vision and focus for mission. That will be the priority over the next few months in both Chapter and Synod.
Side effects continue to hang around. I've got pins and needles in my finger tips - these are persistent and makes my fingers quite numb. One difficulty I've discovered is when distributing the Bread at Holy Communion - I can't feel as well as I should each wafer and I'm conscious of concentrating hard to try to pick each one up as I administer. I'm still unsteady as I walk and it probably looks as though I'm drunk! My speech is a little slurred especially when I'm not thinking about what I say. I've been to see a speech and language therapist who's given me exercises to do and ways to manage the problem. So slurred speech and wobbliness together could make some people think I've definitely had to much to drink! As I said above tiredness remains an issue. I've had nagging discomfort in my right hip and am to have an x-ray on this. I asked the surgeon when I saw him a few weeks ago, if this may have been caused by some technique during the colorectal operation but he seemed to think not. I've also had a very sharp pain in my left shoulder which feels like arthritis. I've had this in previous winters but it seems more persistent this year. My wound appears to be healing at last - the Community Nurses are still visiting to keep an eye on it. Hopefully this will sort itself out soon. As usual my thanks for the continuing prayer and support which I am so conscious of. People keep telling me that my name is still included on their church prayers list - for that I am so grateful.
Posted on Friday 20th May 2016
And there's more.......
I saw the colorectal surgeon a week ago who checked my wound which had reopened during chemo. He thought it would heal and that no further intervention was needed apart from the continuing visits of the Community Nurses to keep keep an eye on it.
Yesterday I had an appointment with the specialist stoma nurse at hospital because my stoma was swelling.It appears that a parastomal hernia has occurred. I was fitted for that wonderful fashion statement of support pants and a prescription was issued. Only 4 pairs a year are allowed which equates to one pair every three months.They'll wear out before the year is over.
On the way home I was startled by the emotional reaction that was bubbling up - a seemingly 'little thing' compared to the really big stuff I've been through in the past year. I can't remember crying during the year but when I took the prescription request down to the GP surgery I almost lost it in reception. A few moments while I composed myself and I was OK. Wow, it just goes to show that feelings, emotions, reactions can surface at any time and catch us unaware.
I feel I am a very different person now compared to when I started out a year ago - a changed bloke. Going from being relatively fit and never having been ill before I crash, at the age of 62, into the diagnosis and everything changes. It's difficult to describe or explain how things have changed but I know they have.
Posted on Monday May 16th 2016
The past week has gone well - busy days and days more evenly paced. The funeral of one of our ladies at Wrestlingworth was held on Thursday, it was a good congregation of people from both church and community. In the evening I went to support Rachel Pennant who was being Inducted as Vicar of Hoddesdon - Rachel had been Curate of Biggleswade for the past almost 4 years and a very good member of the Deanery Clergy Chapter and Deanery Synod. She and her follow Curate, Mark Newman (Eaton Socon) had given a joint presentation to the Deanery Synod of their training experiences for Ordination. It was very enlightening for people to learn what it's like to train for Ordination in the Church of England. I did suggest that they might give another presentation on their experiences as Curates but we ran out of time. Mark has also moved to work in a support role as Forces Chaplain in Oxford.
On Saturday the PCC of Dunton met in the morning. This is a new venture because evenings for me aren't so good. I'll keep this meeting time under review and see if changes need to be made.
Yesterday was the first of the new monthly Benefice Services which I introduced as I returned to ministry earlier this month. We held the Eucharist for Whit Sunday at Wrestlingworth and it was well supported. It feels good to be back Presiding - I always remember being told that the normal discipline for the People of God was to be with the Lord's People, on the Lord's Day around the Lord's Table. That seems to me to be the right thing to do. Priest and People together sharing in worship and Eucharist.
This coming week there is not so much in the diary which is good - I need time to rest and reflect. Tiredness remains an issue to manage. I'm conscious that the garden isn't getting the attention it needs - I'll have to play catch up later.
Posted on 9th May 2016
Well the weekend passed - very hectic and lots of things happening not least being at the Cathedral for the Canon making ceremony on Saturday. It was a joyful and lovely service. Four of us were Installed and a photo of us turning to be Installed by the Dean is below. We were made to feel very welcome and there was wine and nibbles to enjoy at the end.
On Sunday I went to preside at Eyeworth Parish Church - it felt strange but right to be there and to lead once again. Just seven plus me in the congregation and we made a joyful sound as we celebrated the Ascension with traditional hymns. In the evening I felt so tired that I was going up to bed at just after 9pm!!
Today (Monday) Melanie and I went to to see my colorectal surgeon at Hertford County Hospital. This was primarily because of the surgical wound which was damaged as I went through chemotherapy. The hospital was really nice - a new build. We arrived early and were seen well before my appointment time - in fact we were leaving for home before I was supposed to have been seen. The surgeon was happy with the wound and thought it would heal as time went by. He said it was early days following the end of chemotherapy. We talked about other issues and it all felt a lot happier than this time last year when I was just beginning the treatment pathway.
When I read back through this blog of happenings I can hardly believe that so much has happened. It's been good to keep this page as a reminder of all that's happened. My thanks to the NHS and everyone involved in my care and treatment.
Posted on Monday 2nd May 2016
Yesterday went well as I returned to ministry and Presided at my first Parish Eucharist service in the Benefice at Dunton Parish Church. Everyone was very welcoming and was as delighted to see me as I was to see them. It felt really good to be at the Altar again leading the People of God in worship and Communion. I shared a little about what was still going on and the side effects which are hanging around. The Gospel reading was the words of Jesus saying to his disciples, 'Peace I leave with you, my own peace I give to you.' I used those as the basis for my sermon saying that the peace from Jesus comes in the midst of challenges, illnesses and problems rather than pretending they are not a part of our lives. They are the same words used at funeral services - I can't begin to count the number of funerals I have used them at and in my more desperate moments in the past year I imagined them being used at my funeral service!
I felt quite tired in the afternoon but we had some lovely friends join us for lunch and any tiredness soon disappeared. A long lazy lunch is very relaxing and we had a lovely time talking and enjoying lunch wonderfully prepared by Melanie.
This coming week is not too busy - I have a few things in my diary to try and work out the best way to ease myself back into ministry in the Benefice. On Saturday my Istallation as Honorary Canon which takes place at the Cathedral at 4pm.
Next Sunday (May 8th) I will be Presiding at Eyeworth Parish Church at 9.30am - the week after (May 15th) it will be a Benefice Eucharist at Wrestlingworth at 10.30am.
Posted on Tuesday 26th April 2016
My final week on sick leave has begun. I'm very conscious of the need not to leap back into 'ministry mode' at the same level of intensity as before. I have spoken to the Church Councillors of Dunton, Eyeworth and Wrestlingworth and they are very supportive and caring in telling me not to rush in to pick up where I left off. The main change will be the Sunday services - in that I am only able to take one service at one church each week. I'm not going to do the Sunday Dash between churches. My friends and colleagues who have helped over the past months are all happy to continue to do so, so each church will still have a service each week. I have introduced a monthly 'Benefice Service' usually a Eucharist on the third Sunday each month held around the Benefice on a rota basis. It will be important to advertise as widely as possible these new arrangements so that people know the details. Health wise I am still getting very tired as the day wears on, my walking is still unsteady and I am forgetful (chemo legs and chemo brain!). The pins and needles in my finger tips still bother me as does the colorectal wound which is still being cared for the Community Nurses every other day. I have an appointment to see my surgeon in a few weeks time to talk about this. These issues are all manageable but are beginning to get VERY tiresome. (but thankful that I am alive!)
This week I'm trying to pick up dates and happenings, in the life of the Benefice and Deanery, which need to go in my diary. I shall have to be careful about what I can do and for the time being choose how my days pan out.
On this day last year we were told by my surgeon of the treatment pathway leading to Radio/Chemo Therapy, a kidney operation then a few later the colorectal surgery - gosh it hardly seems possible when I read back through my appointments log at just how much was planned for me, and how much actually happened. Thank you again for your prayers, love and support over these months. Thank you too to the NHS which has been amazing in the standard of care and treatment and all the individuals and teams who have dealt with me.
Posted on Monday 11th April 2016
It was announced in the Benefice yesterday that I am to be made Honorary Canon of The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban. This is a great honour and the invitation from Bishop Alan (Bishop of St Albans) came out of the blue in Holy Week. In the past week the churchwardens were asked by +Alan to make the announcement at the Sunday services. The Installation will take place during Evensong on Saturday 7th May at 4pm in the Cathedral. Parishioners, friends and colleagues are invited.
Health wise, I am continuing to be seen by the Community Nurses who have visited faithfully since I was discharged from Lister following my Colerectal surgery. As mentioned in my earlier reports, the chemotherapy which followed the operation opened up the colorectal wound and although it is a small opening it is quite deep. The nursing team spoke to my Colorectal Specialist Nurse who asked them to refer me to the Tissue Viability Team at Royston who hopefully will be able to suggest further treatment to get this sorted. Apart from the feeling of pins and needles in my finger tips (which makes it difficult to do up shirt buttons or perform other fine motor skills), unsteadiness when I walk, the wound is the most persistent side effect from Chemo. The Community Nurses are absolutley fantastic in their care as they visit every other day to pack and dress the wound. It is not painful but it is uncomfortable sitting, standing and moving. I hope that this can get sorted out as soon as possible. I am usually quite good at recovering from cuts and grazes and, although this wound is deeper, I'd rather hoped that it would heal more quickly than it has following the end of Chemo. All in all considering all that my body has been through this problem isn't so bad but I wish it would get better.
A few weeks ago I saw the Urology Nurse to talk about other side effects following surgery. These are unintended consequences of colorectal surgery and the nerve and muscle damage which may be caused in the pelvic area. (Let the reader understand!) They are all manageable but they do take some understanding and getting used to!
Posted on 9th April 2016 article from April-May Village Link at Wrestlingworth
of you will have heard that following my final stage of treatment for Bowel
Cancer the final scans showed that there was no spread of the disease. Thank
you for all the love, prayers, friendship and support from you all. It has been
a long journey but through it I felt tangibly sustained and held by the welcome
support from all.
was Feb 25 2015 that I was diagnosed. The treatment plan was
formed to deal with the cancer. Following the initial scans Kidney Cancer was
also diagnosed. This was unrelated to the bowel cancer. Although it was a very
unwelcome discovery I have since learnt that often other cancers are found
during tests to ascertain the extent of the original. It was on March 2 this year that
I returned to see my Oncologist to be told the results of the scans following
the end of chemotherapy. So the treatment pathway has lasted a little more than
very aware from my ministry over the years that there are many who have to
fight a lot longer than a year and that many lose the battle with this terrible
disease. I found myself in the company of many travelling the same pathway – I
met them at Mount Vernon, some undergoing the most painful radiotherapy, I met
them at Lister facing life changing surgery, I sat with them at QE2 waiting for
scans. We would sometimes talk about the various treatments we were having –
all individually tailored to suit each patient. We sometimes talked about
feelings and reactions, our emotional response to the diagnosis and treatment,
but for most of us there was just ‘something understood’. Each of us had to
walk the diagnosis and treatment pathway, and deal with it, struggle with it,
fight it, and sometimes feel overwhelmed by it, in our own way. There is no
right or wrong way because it is an individual journey to be made. There are
many who walk alongside us. Those who are closest to us, our nearest and
dearest, who are perhaps more affected by it, because although they share the
journey they are not distracted by the treatment a patient has to undergo. My
wider family, friends, acquaintances, people who know me through who I am and
what I do, have all rallied to offer support, friendship, love and prayer. Most
of all though, Melanie, has been the strength and support in my life and her
determination and love have encouraged me along the way.
cannot praise the NHS enough. The skills and healing gifts of the medical
staff, the treatment, surgery, therapy, expert advice and care have been second
to none. This support will continue into the future as I will need to have
scans and appointments to check how things are. But for now I am so grateful
for all those who have helped and supported me, for the strength given by God
to face (sometimes feeling scared and frightened) all that has happened to me,
and in the future weeks, months and years to do what I can to help others
facing serious illness.
have been speaking to the PCC about the changes which will have to be made to
enable me to return to Ministry. I plan to begin a staged return at the
beginning of May. I will take one service each Sunday somewhere in the
Benefice. My first Sunday at Eyeworth will be May 8 at 9.30am and
at St Peter’s on May 15 when there will be a Benefice Eucharist
(Communion) at 10.30am. Service times and schedules will be posted on the www.dewbenefice.com web site as well as
on church notice boards and in The Village Link. Please check them out.
love and thanks to you all,
friend and Rector
Posted on 2nd March 2016
I posted this on the Beating Bowel Cancer web site this afternoon.
I went to see the Oncologist this morning following scans a few weeks ago. He gave me the good news that I was clear. What a year it's been - it was Feb 25th 2015 that I was diagnosed with bowel cancer and then following initial scans kidney cancer was diagnosed as well. It meant 2 ops (following chemoradiation) - one at the end of June to remove my right kidney and colorectal surgery in mid August. Then from October to the end of January, I had 6 cycles of chemotherapy. I've been discharged from the cancer care team at Lister and am now back with the Specialist Colorectal Nurses. I saw one of them a few weeks ago and she was pleased with my progress and I will see her again in June. No doubt by then I will have appointments for more scans to keep an eye on me. During the past year I have kept a kind of blog on www.dewbenefice.com (on The Rectors page) - if you have time and /or the inclination you might want to dip into it. I now start a different kind of journey - the first is getting to a point where I can return to ministry in my parishes - this is planned for the beginning of May. The other, perhaps more significant point, is getting used to life in a different way post treatment. Living with a permanent colostomy, learning to work and live in a different context. Anticipating the next scans and check ups, living with life limiting effects of surgery. It'll be life in a different landscape.Thank you to everyone who has supported me along my treatment pathway. I'm aware that for some their news is bleak. My thoughts and prayers to all who walk this journey.
Posted on Wednesday 2nd March 2016
Just to let you know that I've been given the all clear from the Consultant Oncologist this morning. A real answer to all the prayers, love and support you have given over the past year. Thank you, it's meant so much to myself and Melanie to know of the support you have given.
I have been discharged from the Oncology department and am now back under the care of the Colorectal Nursing Team. I saw one of them a few weeks ago and will see them again in June. By then, no doubt, I will also have an appointment for another scan just to keep an eye on things.
I can now think more clearly about my return to ministry which is planned for the beginning of May.
Do pass on this news to others who may be asking.
Love and blessings
Posted on Friday 19th Feb 2016Just a quick update. Now that my chemotherapy has ended, we went to see the Colorectal Nurse last Monday at the Lister. She was very nice and we had a chance to ask loads of questions. She examined me and was very pleased with the progress made since the colorectal surgery in August.The unsteadiness when I walk continues to be an challenge as does the slurred speech especially when I'm tired - but hopefully these things will pass as time goes by. My colorectal wound is still a problem and the Community Nurses come to visit every other day to dress it and check that all is OK. They have been visiting me since I was discharged from the Lister in August last year, and have been amazing as they cared for me. Again hopefully this problem will resolve itself once my platelet levels are restored. It is wonderful how the body quickly re-establishes itself and begins to get back to it's normal level of efficiency and health. We are indeed wonderfully and fearfully made. I have been given another 'Statement of Fitness for Work' (the old name is a sick note!) and I am hoping to return to ministry at the beginning of May.
Posted on Monday 8th February 2016
Well hip hip hooray, I've taken the last of my chemotherapy tablets at breakfast time this morning. Alleluia! I have been feeling progressively better since last Tuesday when the feeling of nausea disappeared. I still have other side effects (unsteadiness and slurred speech, pins and needles in my fingers, and occasional hiccups, but they're all manageable.
Last Friday afternoon I went for a CT scan at The Lister. I'd forgotten how long these scans take. I arrived and had to drink some revolting liquid which had been made 'nicer' with orange juice. I then got changed into hospital gowns - the last statement of fashion and waited to be called into the scan room. I must have looked a sight - a real fashion idol wearing gowns and my brown boots! I'm sure you will know that the gowns never quite do up at the back in a decent way so they give 2 gowns to wear - one from back to front the from front to back. I was called through and lay on the bed. An iv was put into me because they needed to inject some other concoction as the scan was taking place. The scan itself didn't take long and I was sent back to the waiting area to wait for 10 minutes before the iv was taken out. I got changed out of my gowns as quickly as possible and came home. I will know the results of the scan in a few weeks when I go back to see the Oncologist.
Hopefully the end is in sight of this long treatment pathway - radio and chemo therapy, operations, scans, appointments, it's been just a year since the diagnosis was first made. I'm so grateful for all the support, prayers and love which has been shown to me. I have felt, in a powerful. way simply being held in prayer. Thank you.
Posted on 25th January 2016
Well, I'm home now and had a rather lovely cheese on toast for lunch. I've been at The Lister Macmillan Cancer Centre since 8.30 - it took about 4 hours to have the chemo treatment. The hold up was having to have a blood trest to ensure that my platelet level was high enough to merit the chemo. Although they were rather low last Wednesday they had boosted up this morning to 121. Only after this confirmation can the nurses order the chemo concoction. The mixture potency was reduced (the same as last time) by 20%, so hopefully the side effects will be more manageable. I have brought home several boxes of tablets consisting of chemo tablets for the next 14 days and anti side effect tablets. I usually mark up the boxes with the list of days I'll take them, along with how many doses each day. Some are three times, some 2 and some 1 each day.
The nursing staff are unfailingly kind and professional and I thanked they for their care and treatment. They know that having chemo by iv is a potent mixture - I'm sure I've said it sometime ago that a friend likened it to being flushed through with domestos! I think that's a good analogy. Everything in the body is affected by the chemo - good cells and organs along with the bad, in the hope that anything bad will be got rid of and anything good will withstand the treatment. I left a box of chocolates to put on the staff desk by way of thanks to them all. All being well (and in the nicest possible way) that's the last I shall of them and they of me!! Hurrah and triple hurrah!
While in the CC I had a visit from the newest members of the Chaplaincy team - Rachel, who was very nice. She had emailed me about cover while the team are off duty. I hope to return to that ministry as soon as I am able. Jane - another team chaplain, also came to see me, which was lovely.
I'm expecting the Community Nurse to come this afternoon to see to my colorectal wound which will keep me in the system of a visit every other day.
I left a message for the Kidney Specialist Nurse this morning - my appointment to see the kidney surgeon in February has been postponed and a new one made for March. I have been waiting to see him since my discharge from his care as an in-patient in early July. Several appointments over the months had been cancelled by the clinic or I had to cancel them becuase they clashed with the colorectal surgery or recovery, or the chemotherapy I've been on since last October. I'm keen to have the results of any tests which were done on the kidney which was removed. Hopefully they will ring back this afternoon - if not I shall ring them.
So chemo is over. I now wait for a scan appointment and then go to see the Oncologist, Dr Hughes, for the results in early March.
I had a phone call from the Research Nurse re the medical trial about aspirin. She let me know that because I'd had kidney cancer I was not able to take part in the trial. Apprentely you have to be cancer free for 15 years to qualify - apart from Colorectal cancer. O well - it was worth volunteering.
Posted on 21st January 2016
current situation is that
I'm on week 3 of my 5th cycle of chemo. This means that I'm on a
treatment free week, yippee! I saw the Oncologist yesterday and had a
The last couple of times my platelet level has been quite low but
they had boosted up in time for the IV chemo. The last chemo was reduced
which reduced the side effects making them more manageable. The blood test results showed that once again my platelet level was low - lower than last time. Apparently the low count gets lower every time. If the level has gone up then I will have my 6th and final chemo - hurray!! The Oncologist was very good and spoke to Melanie and I about the treatment - he will now request a CT scan and following that I have an appointment to go back to see him for the results on March 2nd. This is to check whether there has been any spread.
We asked him about lymph nodes and whether they were shown on scans or were they too small to be seen. Dr Hughes said that they were shown on the scans. He mentioned the possibility of me taking part in a medical trial by taking aspirin for 5 years. There has been a suggestion in other smaller trials that it might work in preventing the spread of cancer. This is a big trial in the UK and India and the results won't be known until 2026 or thereabouts. There might be a problem with me being a part of the trial because of the kidney cancer. We spoke to the research nurses who will check up and let us know.
Apart from that
things are ok ish. I like 'ish' to describe how things are. Of all the
side effects the worse by far has been nausea - it's been manageable but to
have it in the background every day is quite annoying as well as
uncomfortable. I've become much more unsteady as the chemo has
progressed and I need a walking stick to keep my balance. My speech has
become more slurred. An interesting side effect has been pins and needle in
my fingers when they touch a cold surface or just get cold. It tends to
be a rather sharp sensation and happens immediately after chemo and
lasts for a few weeks. Some patients say that this effect stays with them. Tiredness is an issue too. All these side effects
are accumulative so I'm looking forward to the end of the chemo treatment
when they will begin to disappear. As I mentioned some time ago, another side effect has been that the
colorectal wound has opened so the Community Nurses are now coming every
other day to pack it and dress it. Hopefully once the treatment has
ended it will heal. They are anxious though to encourage healing from
the inside.Once my final chemo is over, I have a couple of appointments next month - one to
see Mr Hanbury - the surgeon who removed my right kidney, just for a
post op check up, the other is to see the colorectal nurse again for a follow up following the chemo and colorectal operation.
on 5th January 2016
went to the Lister MacMillan Cancer Centre yesterday for a blood test and my 5th chemo
cycle. My platelet count had whizzed up to 115 which was well over the lower limit so the
nurse ordered the new chemo mix which took an hour to get to me. Then it took
2 hours to administer! I got home. I feel work ish but tired - I didn't sleep
too well last night. Dr Hughes spoke about scans which will happen once the
chemo cycles have come to an end later this month. I don't have appointments
as yet it not doubt they'll come through soon.
were busy taking the Christmas decorations down in the afternoon; well Harry
did most of it! I took the tree down for collection today, but left some
fairy lights up for Epiphany.
returns to Foxes Academy, Minehead this Saturday and on Sunday Tom goes back
to Birmingham, it'll be strange to just have Sam at home again.
Posted on Jan 3rd 2016
Happy New Year all - I hope and pray that we will
know much joy and peace in 2016.
Tomorrow (Jan 4th) I have my 5th chemo session.
I'm at the Lister for 8.30am so it'll be an early start as the traffic will
Last Wednesday I went to the Cancer Centre for a
blood trust and to see the Oncologist. My blood levels were low (mainly
platelets) and I will need to have another test before the chemo starts being
pumped in tomorrow. This has been a common pattern over the past few cycles
so there's nothing unusual. If they haven't got up to an acceptable
level then then the chemo cycle will be postponed for a week. There is an
accumulative effect when having chemo so I suspect that each time the levels
have got lower and lower.
In my last cycle I completely forgot to take an
evening dose of chemo tablets and woke up in the early hours of the morning
worrying. I decided not to bother the chemo nurse about it and to carry on as
usual simply adding the forgotten dose to the evening of the last day - this
was a mistake! When I owned up to it I was told that in the future I wasn't
to add a dose on to the end but to forget it and stop when the time had
arrived. By taking the extra evening dose I've extended by 12 hours the
effects of chemo. O well.......
The Oncologist said that my bone marrow would
still be affected by the radiotherapy/chemotherapy I had back in May and
June. I was surprised by this because it is more than six months ago. It's
amazing how long the effects of drugs and treatment hang around in the body.
I spoke about the several side effects I was
experiencing from the chemo - slurred speech, unsteadiness when walking, pins
and needles in my fingers, a metallic taste, nausea, the colorectal surgery
wound still weeping (the Community Nurses come to visit every other day to
dress it and check me out) so Dr Hughes has reduced the potency of the chemo
concoction by 20% which should help. I've had 4 full chemo cycles and I'm
assuming that they start o the highest level and then adjust the dose as it
goes along according to reactions and side effects.
When it gets to the day before my chemo cycle
begins I start to feel apprehensive - this time it hasn't been so bad, but
the apprehension is still in the background. It's not something to look
forward to and I will glad when the sessions come to an end. It will take
several weeks or months to begin to get over the effects this treatment.
Again my thanks for your thoughts and prayers for
Melanie and myself and our families as we have walked this path in 2015- may
2016 bring better health and happiness for us all.
Posted on Friday 18th December 2015
Last Monday I had the 4th of my 6 chemo IV cycles
- just 2 more to go in January. It's nice to know that I'm now on the
downhill run. The side effects of the oxaliplatin and capecitabine have
continued; thankfully they have become a bit more manageable with a
change in the way I take the tablets for the 2 weeks following the IV.
Oxaliplatin is given through IV and capecitabine through the 2 weeks of
tablets (8 each day).
Everyone reacts differently to chemo and a
long list is given of the possible effects which may be experienced. Mine
have been nausea - easily the worst, peripheral neuropathy - basically
pins and needles in my fingers & toes especially when feeling cool surfaces or
going in the fridge - hence trying to remember wearing gloves when doing
so, wobbliness and loss of balance when standing or walking and fatigue.
I'm finding it a problem to walk although I do try every other day or so
- I need a stick to help. Hiccups are a problem - these occur in the
first week or so each cycle and can be quite persistent to mine and
everyone else's annoyance! All these things will pass once the treatment
has finished. The other thing that happened was my colorectal wound re-opened and began to bleed. The District Nurses were excellent and upped their visits to every day to check and dress the area.
The recent news of how cancer develops
doesn't help - the latest is that life style, diet, exercise, smoking,
drinking are considered bigger factors now than before. I feel I had a
fairly balanced diet, didn't drink too much and didn't smoke. I read some
academic papers, a few months ago, about cancer discussing the difference
between risk and chance. Risk of course is a factor but so too is chance.
Those who have a life style which could be said to increase the risk
don't always get cancer and those who have a fairly balanced life style
sometimes do. It all appears random and chaotic. One thing which has been
on my mind is how do we make sense of this. No easy answers. I'm not an
academic so reading these reports is a bit like reading a foreign
language - but from I have read it seems that the most recent ones
reported today, suggest that life style brings a far higher risk than
chance. That doesn't account for the randomness of it all. The question
for those of us with faith is always where is God in all of this stuff
which affects our lives?
It's scary to get this diagnosis and not to
know how it's going to work out, the loss of control is quite devastating
- just when we think we live life how we want it to be and have a degree
of control, the ground suddenly moves from under our feet and we no
longer have that certainty. The Christmas story is about God who steps
into our world, a world of uncertainty, of catastrophe, of pain and
illness, sorrow and death, and shares completely in our human lot.
Speaking to us as he shares our birth, life and death - and in the power
of the resurrection says that death and destruction will not have the
final word. 'I can raise the dead he says' and proves it by becoming the
resurrection and the life.
This is likely to be my last post for 2015 -
may I say thank you to all of you who have travelled this journey with
me. I owe so much to Melanie and our families, the love prayers and
friendship of colleagues and friends from the wider church and community,
the Diocese and the parishes we are involved in. As we approach this last
week of Advent and the Christmas joy begins to dawn may the Christ child
bring us joy and fill our hearts with gladness. Thank you.
Posted on Friday 30th October 2015
I have now completed the first of six cycles
of chemotherapy and am 'enjoying' a free week from treatment. The side
effects of the first cycle were rather rough and I spent 9 days or so
lying on the sofa watching day time tv - a mind numbing activity. I'm not
able to keep a train of thought so any reading, apart from skipping
through the newspaper, is just not possible. I've had to eat in order to
take the chemo tablets - although I would rather have not had to. I'm
making the most of this week now that I feel like eating a little more.
Someone told me that I must eat plenty of cake to build myself up for the
next cycle - I am trying. Although I am eating a little more I do feel
quite weary and tired. I try to go out for a walk each day and this week
I have been able to drive a little.
This past Wednesday I went to The Lister for
blood tests and saw the Oncologist who told me that I was fine to continue
with the second cycle which will be on Monday morning at the Lister
MacMillan Cancer Centre. This will entail a 2 - 3 hour appointment while
I'm connected to an IV drip. Once home I then take chemo tablets for 14
days along with all the other little ones to combat the side effects -
these (of course) have side effects of their own to contend with!
All being well the sixth cycle will end at
the beginning of February when I expect to return to parish ministry. It
will have been a long haul (6 months) and even after returning to
ministry I will be having scans and appointments as they keep an
eye on me. I don't like wishing time away, but I long for February when
the chemotherapy will be behind me.
I am more or less fully recovered from my
bowel surgery (this took place on Aug 18th) and am now able to sit
comfortably for short periods. The District Nurses see me each week to
check the wound and they're pleased with my progress. I see the
Specialist Nurses (Colorectal and Stoma) from time to time at The Lister
and they are a great help and support.
The only other thing I'm waiting for is an
appointment to see my kidney surgeon - I keep getting appointments when
either I've been having further surgery or I'm into Chem. Hopefully
things will work themselves out so that I see him at some point.
Thank you again for your prayers and support
- it means a lot to us that we are being remembered in prayer. We've had
many cards, flowers, chocolates, little gifts and visits and we are most
grateful for all these things.
Memories of Colorectal surgery & Recovery. Aug 18th 2015 - (posted in Jan 2017)
Arrived at Lister for 7am and booked in. I was taken to a 'waiting area' where I got changed into gowns and was asked to wait. There was no indication of how much time I'd be there. I
waited all morning and at about 1pm I was called to the theatre. I had an
epidural fitted (not too uncomfortable) and then I remember looking at the
clock at about 1.30pm then nothing until I was on Ward 8 south later in the
I was dosed up on pain killers but vaguely remember teams of medics coming to see me at regular intervals through the night. One team was to check that I hadn't had a stroke. My speech was very slurred as I came to and there was some concern. The other team were from the ward who every hour had to check my levels (blood pressure, heart beat, oxygen levels, temperature etc). In the morning my neighbour commiserated with me that I had had so much intervention! I think I remember having something to eat. I had this strange thing on my tummy - a colostomy bag which was going to be with me for the rest of my life. Soon after 8am the stoma nurses came on the Ward and immediately began to show me how to change my bag - I think she said that she'd show me again once more but after that I had to take responsibility. Quite a steep learning curve! Through the day I dozed - I was helped out of bed to sit in the chair. I had a catheter in. It was all very awkward because when I tried to move I had to think about what pipes needed to be where. Along with the catheter, I had various drains and the epidural was still plugged in. I also had a pain killer wired in to use if I needed it. Melanie came to see me of course as she did every day. Over the next few days I gradually became more mobile and by the weekend Mr R-J was telling the nurses to take out various pipes. The last was the catheter which was removed on Sunday morning. It then took until around 10pm before I could pee again! The ward staff were getting a bit anxious and were thinking that the another catheter would have to be used. I was determined this should not happen so I just drank plenty of water. I was up and down to the loo - fortunately it wasn't too far to get to. The operation damaged the nerves in that part of my pelvic region so the sensation of needing to pee wasn't as it had been. - it was a matter of learning new feelings as well as living with none at all. Eventually I managed and all the ward staff cheered!
On August 25th Mr R-J said I could come home. It took a long time for the discharge process to work and the prescriptions seemed to take for ever. Melanie came to get me and we got home.
Over the next few weeks I had home visits from my GP Dr Caroline Russell who was so supportive and caring, along with the District Nurses based in Royston. They were excellent. The NHS really played it's crucial part and was there for me when needed.
I remained on painkillers for a few weeks and took Oxycontin - which in the USA is know as hill-billy heroin! This is an alternative pain killer to morphine and doesn't have the same side effects except when I came off them I had withdrawal symptoms - a bit like cold turkey. But that's because I just stopped taking them and for a few days felt really out of it. Melanie said I was mad to do it that way. But it all worked OK. Gradually all my other tablets and medicines were reduced and I stopped taking them.
Posted on Thursday 13th August 2015
Update on the next step.
Just to let you know that we went to see the
colorectal surgeon (Mr Reay-Jones) this morning at the QE11 Hospital.
Welwyn Garden City. Everything went well and the news was that the
radiotherapy/chemotherapy has worked and made some change to the cancer,
and there was a green light for the operation next Tuesday at The Lister
Hospital, Stevenage. I will be told the time to 'check in' but the
surgeon said it was likely to be 7am and to be prepared for a bit of
sitting around waiting, so to bring a good book. Thankfully I won't have
to have the bowel prep I had before my colonoscopy earlier this year - I
won't go into the details but suffice to say it was a frequent and fast
race to get to the loo!
The procedure will take about 4/5 hours and
will be divided into 2 parts - the first on my abdomen when a stoma will
be formed (this will be by keyhole), then I'm turned over for the rear
end action! - this will be open surgery. I'm likely to be in hospital for
up to 10 days - so hopefully I'll be home by a week next Friday, if not
earlier. The stoma will be permanent - the cancer is so low down there's
not enough 'pipe work' to connect things back up again.
Tomorrow we're going to see the Stoma Nurse
at The Lister when no doubt she will fill me in on yet more gory details
of stoma care and the mechanics of colostomy bags etc. (Sorry to be so
graphic.) There is a UK web site called Colostomy Association which gives
loads of info about all kinds of help and support they offer. I'll
probably be a frequent visitor! I know it's going to take a lot of
getting used to but I've met quite a few people who have had them and
seem to have done quite well.
I feel that I've recovered very well since my
kidney operation and am feeling more than fit enough for the next step.
Thank you for your continued love and prayers
Posted Monday 20th July 2015
Gosh it doesn't seem like 2 weeks since I
last posted an update! Things have been going really well for me - the
dressings came off the day following my last post and the wounds are
healing nicely. No pain, just a little discomfort - I'm aware of the
surgery when I sit or bend. I'm becoming more active - trying to walk
every day and the tiredness is wearing off apart from evenings when I
feel whacked and need to get to bed. I can't always get comfortable as I
try to get to sleep but that's beginning to pass thankfully. I'm now able
to drive short distances which gives me some stomaependence and means I can
get out to mooch in places other than our village .I sadly had to
miss one church schools leaver's service and the farewell to our head
teacher who has now retired.
This coming week I have a CT scan (on
Tuesday) and I'm awaiting confirmation of the MRI. Apparently there has
to be a minimum of 6 weeks following surgery before an MRI can take place
- this is because of any clips which may have been used internally during
the operation. The Bowel Cancer nurses are having a conversation to get
an MRI asap so that the results can be analysed before I see the
colorectal surgeon on Aug 13th.
Posted on Wednesday 8th July 2015
I just wanted to let you know the latest news
about my operation.
Last Sunday (June 28th) I was admitted to
Lister Hospital in Stevenage for the first of my operations - to have my
right kidney removed. The op took place on Monday afternoon - my last
memory was looking at the clock on the wall at 1.30pm before I went
under. I came off the table at 5.30pm and stayed in recovery for a few
hours before being taken back to the ward. Each day saw some small
improvement and I gradually got stronger. On Friday I was allowed to come
home. Things are still sore and uncomfortable but it's so nice to be
home. Melanie has been an absolute star with a lot of extra work. I don't
need to see the GP - the stitches will dissolve this week and we should
be able to manage the dressings at home. I'm just on paracetamol when
needed. I have been given a month off to recover - the first time I've
ever had a sick note!
It's going to take a few weeks before I feel
like driving. Later this month I have a couple of appointments for scans
- an MRI and a CT, just to check how things are in readiness for the
colorectal surgery in Aug. The 18th has been pencilled in for this and
I'm seeing the bowel surgeon on the 13th when I hope he will confirm the
On Monday I spoke to my GP who gave me a sick
note for a month - the first one I've ever had in my working life!!
Posted on Sunday 28th June 2015
A day early for this since I will be admitted
to the Lister Hospital in Stevenage this afternoon at 5pm. The past week
has been OK- the tiredness has gradually reduced. On Wednesday I saw the
Oncologist, Dr Hughes, who seemed happy with the chemoradiation sessions
and said he would now ask for scans to reveal the outcome. I've received
an appointment for a CT scan later in July. Checking my file I was
reminded that I should also be having an MRI scan asked for by Mr
Reay-Jones the Colorectal surgeon - no doubt this will come soon. I had a
CT and an MRI scan right at the start of this journey when the diagnosis
was made. It'll be interesting to compare the 2 - not that I would know
what to look for of course! I took a funeral service on Thursday at
Dunton and on Saturday I buried the cremated remains of a lovely lady who
was very much a part of the church and village at Wrestlingworth. It was
quite moving to read the words of Psalm 121 'I lift up my eyes to the
hills, from where does my help come. My help comes from the Lord....' I
use this Psalm at every burial and as I say, the words are quite moving.
Today I rang the Ward to find out the time I
was expected - the phone number I was given was wrong - I was given
another and I was then transferred to another ward where a bed was
available. That number was only in use during week days and Saturdays! I
eventually got through on another number and was asked to be at the Swift
Ward for 5pm or just after. I began to feel anxious - it's bad enough to
go in for what I need doing, without being given the run around before
finding a bed for the night. I'm not sure if I'll end up going back to
Swift after the op or going to the ward (7BN) I should have gone on in
the first place, It will be a voyage of discovery.
I can eat up until midnight tonight and then
only drink water. At my pre-op I was given 4 cartons of Nutricia Pre-op
drinks - 2 to have this evening and 2 before 6.30am tomorrow morning. I
also got a container with a special soap to shower with before the
operation. A kind of de-bug concoction! I also have to avoid alcohol,
fatty and heavy foods and avoid smoking or using recreational drugs!!! I
will do my best!
Posted on Monday 22nd June 2015
A week today and I will be at the Lister
having had or undergoing the operation to remove my kidney. It feels
strange this waiting time. Loads of things to do to prepare for the sick
leave which will follow. Weekly Notice sheets are being produced by David
Tant from Dunton. This web site has been updated to include usual service
times and special services/events until the end of November. Contact
details for the acting Rural Dean, the Archdeacon and the Bishop have
also been included.
Over the past week the pain and discomfort
have almost disappeared completely which is wonderful. The tiredness is
still hanging around. I can manage short walks but even after the
shortest of walks I find myself feeling tired. I still try to get out as
often as I can and just keep active.
A highlight for me was Saturday when for the
first time since I've been in the Diocese I attended the St Alban
Festival. We were in the Cathedral for the mid-day Festival Eucharist - the
Archbishop of Canterbury (who had been visiting the Diocese since
Thursday) was the preacher and he talked about martyrs. St Alban was the
first Christian martyr in England and was beheaded in St Albans and the
Cathedral was built to honour his sacrifice. First established as a
Benedictine Abbey it was dedicated in 1115 by the then Abbot of Rouen.
The present Archbishop of Rouen also attended the day's festivities and
he was the preacher at the 4pm service of Festival Evensong. That service
ended by the whole congregation processing past Alban's Shrine while
singing hymns and threw red roses on it as they passed by. It was a great
diocesan/cathedral event of praise and thanksgiving, inspiring and
encouraging for all those present.
Last Thursday I went to Lister for the pre op
tests and chat. Blood pressure, urine, weight and height were measured
and I even had an ECG - I was able to look at the print out - it all
looked 'normal' to me, but what do I know!
This Wednesday I have a check-up with the
Oncologist following the chemoradiation treatment.
In the parishes I have 2 funerals to look
after and catch up on anything needed to make it easier for the
churchwardens and others while I'm away. I need to think of an away
message for my emails and to change my answer phone message. Gosh I've
spent the past few weeks doing similar things and I keep remembering
other items to include.
I will try and update this page in a couple
of weeks’ time once I'm back home.
Posted on Monday 15th June 2015
Well, over a week gone by since the end of my
25 sessions of chemoradiation. I can't say I miss the journeys to and
from Mount Vernon Hospital but it has felt strange not meeting up with
the fellow patients I got to know fleetingly in LA10 and of course the
staff who I can't praise highly enough for the care and consideration
they gave to me and others. They say that one of the most stressful jobs
is to be a dentist because of the pain and discomfort that treatment they
give and the effect it as on their patients. I would put my radiographers
in the same category. They knew they were causing pain and discomfort to
those who like me undergo treatment - like dentists who thankfully
I don't have to see professionally too often. Radiologists on the other
hand know that the treatment was daily (for some patients 2 or 3 times
Alban's each day) and each treatment added to the side effects - burning,
soreness, pain, in unspeakable areas. It's strange how my reserve
about speaking of the area where the cancer is being treated has been gradually
lifted and, although I'm careful about what I share and to whom, I find
that once in conversation I can speak fairly openly about what's
happening and some of the gory effects of the treatment.
The basic side effect is when I need the loo
I need it now!! No hanging around, hence not being able to be at church
on a Sunday morning. The soreness and discomfort is beginning to
disappear thankfully and although normal service has not yet resumed I
can cope better. Again thankfully I am not on painkillers as I was before
the radiotherapy started - that was a very painful time when I was often
pacing around downstairs in the middle of the night.
On Friday I received a letter telling me of
my appointment with Mr Reay-Jones, my bowel surgeon. This is for August
13th. My operation will hopefully be confirmed at this meeting with him.
So the week has come and gone, a new one
begins - or at least in did yesterday. This Thursday morning I have my
pre-op appointment at Lister which will lead on to my kidney operation of
This week the Diocese has a three day visit
from the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC for short). ++Justin arrives on
Thursday and begins his journey around the Diocese. The focus of the
visit is on Mission and Young People. The timetable of his travels can be
found on the Diocesan web site. On Thursday evening he is meeting with
young people who are exploring or beginning to explore vocation and this
is followed at The Abbey by a meeting with Diocesan Clergy - I shall be
going to that. On Saturday the St Alban's Festival happens and ++Justin
will the principal guest and will preach at the mid-day Eucharist
celebrating the story of Albans - the first English martyr. I'm hoping to
be there for the day.
I grateful for the many prayers and support I
know is happening for me, Melanie and the family - if you are one of them
Posted on Monday June 8th
Wow! What a week! The last day of my
chemoradiation was on Thursday so I took a 'thank you' card and a jar of
bon bons for the radiology staff who have looked after me and cared for
me over the 25 sessions. They have been unfailingly professional and
caring, kind and compassionate. It felt strange getting to the end of my
visits - gradually people I'd got to know over my sessions began to
come to the end of their treatment and each day brought new patients to
the waiting area of LA10. We would each share our diagnosis, coping
strategies, treatment pathways, medical staff we had in common. There was
a common bond we felt as we walked this new pathway, learning a new
language - each of us individually coping yet knowing there was
I think I overdid it a bit in the excitement
of coming to the end of this first stage and I got home feeling pretty
shattered which lasted the rest of the day, Friday too. On my way to MVH
I attended the noon Eucharist at The Abbey - this was good but perhaps a
bit too much to add into the day.
On Saturday I had a wedding to take at Dunton
and that brought some normality to life and ministry. The church as
packed as Jason and Laila a local couple made their vows - it was really
joyful. Saturday was also our 6th wedding anniversary - and that made the
day even more special. Melanie cooked a rather wonderful steak served
with new potatoes and asparagus. Later in the evening friends called
round and we shared cheese, biscuits and bubbly together. This time 6
years ago we were in Taormina staying in a fantastic hotel called
Posted on Monday June 1st 2015
Overall the past week has gone really well -
the journeys have been good and again I am so grateful to those who have
driven me to and from Mount Vernon Hospital. On occasions the traffic was
slow on the M25/A1 - I've learnt where the service stations and loo stops
are especially on the way home!! A part of the preparation for the
radiotherapy is having to drink almost a litre of water before going in
to be zapped - so things can get desperate if traffic conditions are slow
on the way home. There was a lot of hoping and praying on the way home.
Posted on Monday 25th May
The past week has gone well - journeys to and
from MVH have been excellent with no major hold ups. As usual I am so
grateful to all the volunteer drivers who generously agreed to take me.
The daily doses of chemoradiation continue and
the side effects haven't got any worse apart from more pain as the skin
is damaged with radiotherapy. This was always going to be an issue -
thankfully there are creams which can relieve the discomfort.
Today is a Bank Holiday so I get an extra day
free from treatment which is a welcome respite not just from the journeys
but it also allows a little more time for recovery.
I mentioned last week about the MRI scan -
the message back was that this was far too soon and the appointments team
had jumped the gun. I expect there to be an MRI around about July 20th.
When I start back tomorrow I will be on day
18 of 25 so there's a growing sense of excitement as I'm now on the
downhill run to reach June 4th!
Posted on Monday 18th May
It's been good to have the weekend off from
treatment once again. Towards the end of last week I was beginning to
feel tired and that lasted until Sunday. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy
was fine during the week - with the usual daily doses of both. On
Wednesday the machine broke down and most of waiting were taken to
another ward for our treatment. One patient was asked to go home that
day, to come as usual on Thursday and Friday and to also come on Saturday
to have the dose she missed.
On Thursday I had 3 appointments - one for
the 'zapping', one to have a check-up with the nurse about how things
were going. She asked questions, I answered and we had a conversation
about what I might expect as the accumulative effects of the treatment
began to take hold. She gave me advice on how to cope particularly with
the tiredness which usually hits towards the end or even after the daily
doses has ended. The other appointment was to have a blood test. This can
sometimes take a long time. The system is to arrive and take a numbered
ticket (a bit like the deli counter at Sainsbury’s) and wait for it to
come up. There were 20 in front of me so I sat down to wait. Surprisingly
it was just half an hour to wait - I guess this depends on how many
phlebotomists are on (there are 4 rooms) but only 3 were in use. I was
glad to get it done so quickly. My driver for the day had come prepared
to wait a long time (3 hours) but in fact I was done and dusted in
On Friday I was asked to see the Oncologist
to be given the prescription for the last of the chemo tablets. I arrived
mid-morning and checked in at reception and took a seat. There's a small
cafe in the waiting area and I took advantage of having some rather
delicious toast and marmite. Eventually the radiology team asked me to go
to be zapped and then I returned to the waiting area. A rad nurse came to
say that the Oncologist had been caught up in a training session and that
unless I wanted to see him he was happy with the report from yesterday's
check up with the therapy nurse, he would send my prescription to the
Pharmacy. I was happy not to hang around and set off for the Pharmacy and
didn't wait too long before it was dispensed and I set off home.
Today I'm on day 13 of 25, so it's a downhill
run. The last day of treatment is June 4th. I had a letter on Saturday
telling me that I had an appointment for an MRI at QE11 on May 26th. I've
rung the BC nurses today to see if this was expected because I will still
be having my daily treatment. There was no reply so I left a message -
they will call back sometime today. We'll wait and see.
Posted on Monday 11th May
It was lovely having a weekend off from
treatment - no tablets no radiotherapy. Today I'm now on day 8 of my
treatment - 17 more to go. I will have a blood test this week and then
see the Oncologist on Friday to have the rest of the chemo tablets
Last week the hospital transport went
pear-shaped. On Tuesday I was picked up by a driver who had a very
different take on transport. He said he was sorry for being late - I said
he was earlier than I had expected but that didn't matter since, if a
slot is available, the radiotherapy can be pulled forward if I arrive
early. He said that he should have been to collect me 12 noon since that
was the time afternoon patients were picked up regardless of their
appointment time. Anyway we arrived and he dropped me off and even though
I was early there was a slot to fit me in so I was done and dusted before
the official appointment time. I went to the desk a just gone 5pm and the
receptionist logged me in for transport home. I waited, and waited - at
6.30pm I rang the transport number and was told that transport was on its
way from Lister. I then rang again at just gone 7 and a new chap checked
my record and told me that the transport had not been despatched nor had
I been logged in to receive it. He apologised and said that he would
despatch a taxi from Alperton or Watford to come and get me. Eventually
it arrived and I got home after 8pm. So from the first few days of tailor
made transport things had changed. I am now going to return to the original
plan and beg people's forbearance - many folk from the parishes had
offered to take me but because transport became available they were
'stood down'. We will try and resurrect the rota and begin again.
I have not had any side effects to speak of.
I am aware though that the treatment does accumulate and often side
effects come near the end of the sessions. I do feel tired in the evening
though. I'm trying to still be as available as I can be.
Posted Monday 4th May
Today we got an email from our holiday
insurance firm saying they would refund the cost of the fights to
Portugal and back home. The villa cost had been very kindly repaid by the
owners. This insurance refund though is less an excess payable by all
those who are named on the insurance. This seems to me to be a bit steep.
Anyway we were glad to have got most of our money back. Cancelling our
holiday plan has been quite a difficult thing to do - we were so looking
forward to this break. This cancer stuff has a lot to answer for.
Speaking to the BC nurse she worked out that
the bowel operation would be around mid-August depending on the results
of further scans taken 6 weeks after the end of my radiotherapy sessions
on June 4th.
Last night we watched the Big C on BBC1 - it
told the story of a young woman who had blogged her way through from the
diagnosis of breast cancer to secondaries developing. It was very moving.
Tomorrow I start my 4th radiotherapy session
along with chemo tablets to take morning and evening. I'm told I won't
lose my hair but just to warn everyone if you see a bald clergyman
wearing a badly fitting wig ......!!
Posted Thursday 30th April
Yesterday Melanie and I went to see the
Urologist at Lister to begin the process of sorting out the problem with
my right kidney. It was lovely to meet Mr Hanbury who had already
discussed my case with the multi-disciplinary team and it had been
recommended that I should be advised to have an operation to remove it
entirely. This has been 'booked' for the end of June which hopefully will
then leave me with enough time to recover before undergoing the bowel
It was a bit rushed and we were a late seeing
Mr Hanbury so I drove down to Mount Vernon for my first radiotherapy
session. That was running late too. The other patients waiting with me
were surprised about this because they were normally seen on time. Anyway
in preparation for the radiotherapy I had to drink 6 (SIX!!) cups of
water - I was then asked to get undressed and into my dressing gown and
was called through to the radiotherapy room. There was a huge metal door
and I guess special walls to stop the waves escaping - they all needed to
go into me rather than elsewhere. The radiologists were very good and
they gently manoeuvred me into the correct position while I lay on my
tummy. The targets were the three tattoos I'd had last week. It took
about 25 minutes in all.
Evening - I have just got back from my second
dose of radiotherapy. It didn't take as long and because I arrived early
I was able to be seen before my appointment time. The radiographers were
again kind and helpful.
Posted Monday 27th April
Last week we attended three appointments at
Mount Vernon. Monday was radiotherapy planning. Tuesday evening we joined
a group of patients who like me are to have chemotherapy for an
information session. On Friday we met with Dr Hughes (Oncologist) to be
given the prescription and then off to the Pharmacy to collect the
Today we went to see my GP, Dr Jarvis, to
talk about the treatment I will be having and to review the painkillers
I'm taking. These were adjusted to hopefully control the pain I feel,
particularly in the afternoon/evening and night time. Sleep has been
difficult and I often get up to walk around to try and find some relief
but as soon as I get back into bed it comes back. We'll see how they work
and hopefully they will resolve the situation.
This week on Wednesday, I begin the daily
visits to Mount Vernon for radiotherapy. Every day I have this I also
have to take the chemo tablets morning and evening. So for the next five
weeks (not including weekends or bank holidays) I'm going to have an
interesting time of it. Hopefully the side effects will not be too bad
and even more hopefully none at all.
One good thing last week was that I heard
from a fellow patient that I could get transport and I rang to give my
details and there was no problem in arranging it. Yesterday at church I
was able to explain this to the congregations and to say thank you to
everyone who had volunteered to drive me to Mount Vernon and back.
Posted Monday April 20th
6.45pm. We have just got back from my first
appointment at Mount Vernon. This was for a planning session for the
radiotherapy. The appointment time was for 3pm but we had to wait until
about 3.45. We then had a chat with the Oncologist who took my consent
forms - we then saw a nurse who asked health questions. We waited a bit
longer before I was taken into the CT scanning room where I had to lie
down on my front while they 'adjusted' my dress to reveal where the
radiotherapy was required. The measuring scan took place and a nurse
returned to tatoo me in three places. These are permanent marks - I had
joked to Melanie saying that one day I would have a tatoo - but is is not
quite what I meant!! The journey there took about an hour and we expected
the homeward journey to be much longer - in fact we sailed around the M25
and up the A1and we were home in under an hour and a half.
Posted Friday April 10th
I've just got my three appointments through
for the week beginning 20th April at Mount Vernon. I'll know more after
those. There's a bit of pain - in two areas, I've got an unrelated nerve
pain in my leg as well as pain from the cancer. I saw my GP this morning
and he prescribed stronger tablets to take. I'm busy panning the rota for
services while I step back a bit in these early days and then stop
altogether when I get to the 2 ops I need.
Posted Wednesday in Holy Week (April 1st)
I met the Consultant Oncologist this morning
at the Lister. Dr Hughes was very nice and explained what the
treatment would entail. We talked about the stage I'm at in terms of the
cancer - he thought I was at Stage 3 - but this can't be verified until
after the bowel operation and the histology reports have been completed.
The radio therapy and chemo will help to reduce the cancer and prevent
any further spread.
The next step is to have an assessment at
Mount Vernon in the next week or so (Easter hols have created a delay) -
then I shall begin the 5 weeks of daily journeys to Mount Vernon.
I am most grateful for the outpouring of love
and prayer for myself and Melanie and the family as we face this journey.
With God's grace and strength we remain determined to fight this monster
and take each day as it comes.
I hope and pray that Easter may be a real
time of joy and celebration as we greet the Risen Lord at the altar.
Posted Palm Sunday - 29th March 2015
Just got home after a wonderful Palm Sunday
Benefice Pilgrimage - with the rain it became a cargrimage!
We had a good number of folk as we started
from Wrestlingworth Parish Church then were joined by others at Eyeworth
Village Hall and others came as we arrived at Dunton Parish Church for
the celebration of Holy Communion from the Peace, and then after the
service to enjoy a picnic in church. The sad thing was that we
didn't need the huge John Deere tractor to lead us as we walked. In the
past it made a good donkey substitute!
There was a rich sense of fellowship and
togetherness and we heard the Gospel account of the entry of Jesus into
Jerusalem on that first 'Palm Sunday'.
Having heard the news of my cancer people
have been very kind in offering lifts to and from the radio therapy I
will need at Mount Vernon. It seems surprising to me that there is no transport
provided by the hospital - I wonder how people without a car manage to
travel so far. It will be an almost 85 mile round trip every day for 5
I am seeing the Oncologist at The Lister on
Wednesday and we may have a better idea of appointment times and any side
effects which may be felt. My Consultant on Thursday seemed to think that
driving was OK for me to do. If driving becomes impossible, there are
good options with the offers of help from many in the Benefice as well as
the village where we live.
Posted Saturday 28th March 2015
Following the recent diagnosis of bowel
cancer and consequent scans and colonoscopy, Melanie and I went to see
the Consultant on Thursday and we have written a short update to let
friends know what's being planned.
On Thursday (26th March) we went to see the
Consultant, Mr Reay-Jones, to be told the recommendation for my Treatment
Pathway following the Multi-Disciplinary Team meeting held on Wednesday.
Lindsay will receive neo-adjuvant
chemo-radiation. Next week he will see the Oncologist to be assessed for
this and treatment will begin soon after Easter.
This will mean a daily trip to Mount Vernon
Hospital each weekday for 5 weeks. This treatment is intended to reduce
the cancer to an operable size, and to reduce any re-occurrence.
Following this he will have an operation on
one of his kidneys to remove the growth (found during one of the recent
scans & unrelated to the Bowel Cancer) and he is due to be seen by the renal team shortly.
Then in the middle/end of July he will have
major surgery to remove the cancer in his bowel.
Because of this we have had to sadly cancel
our holiday plans for July/August.
There will be time to recover from the renal
surgery before he has the bowel surgery. Following this the recovery time
will be up to three months.
Lindsay intends to continue to work as far as
he is able. Radiotherapy can cause tiredness so he will reduce his
workload to one service each Sunday. The rest of the week, treatment at
Mount Vernon and travel time there and back allowing, he will be as
available as he’s always been.
We are so grateful for the outpouring of
love, friendship, support and prayer as we face this unwelcome news. We
know that you will continue your support for us and we really appreciate
all that you do and the many offers of help we have received. Thank you.
Lindsay and Melanie