It’s been a while. I’ve not felt at all creative for the last six weeks. There’s not been much going on – apart from my lovely sister visiting – I think that it’s been more to do with coming to terms with what I’m living through.
The operation to resection my bowel, to remove the tumour and lymph nodes, was on 25th April. I was in for 3 days, made a swift recovery and slowly rebuilt my strength over the next 3/4 weeks. Now, a month later I feel physically good and mentally mostly stable. The looming liver operation is hanging heavy some of the time. I’ll get onto that in a moment, first the oncology news.
We met with the oncologist last week. He said that the tumour was all removed along with the associated lymph nodes, which were free of cancer – good news. The histology revealed the that cancer was a particular type high in MSI. It’s not important to know what that is, just what it means for the patient; which is good news, I think. No chemotherapy. Cancers high in MSI do not respond well to chemo.
This means two things. One; the liver operation can go ahead in the next month or so. Two; the liver cancer is most likely to be of the same type as the bowel cancer. The theory is that it spread to the liver, through my blood, from the bowel – therefore chemotherapy after the liver operation is unlikely. Immunotherapy may be recommended at that point, but let’s not get too far ahead. One step at a time. Liver operation next.
Earlier this week Kim and I travelled up to Cardiff to meet with Mr Kumar, the liver surgeon and Beth the clinical nurse specialist. The visit was very thorough, with clear explanations and loads of follow up tests to prepare for the op.
Mr Kumar explained that the tumour is about 3.5cm, and located of the right side of my liver. Apparently, the liver is made up of eight sections and four are on the right side. Most of this is going to be removed; a third of my liver! Because the gall bladder is just under the liver on that side, this will also be removed. Apparently, it will not be missed.
This operation is of a different kind of magnitude to the bowel resection. It’s a major organ and there are several risks attached to the operation. One of which is liver failure, fortunately in only 1-2% of cases. What is miraculous is that the liver regenerates in three months, although its just an extension of the left side.
Another fact that is difficult to hold is the 50% possibility that liver cancer will return. Or perhaps I should say there’s a 50% chance that it won’t return. Heads or tails?
All of this has been a little difficult to process, evidenced by some disturbed night’s sleep. My subconscious has probably been a little overwhelmed by all the new information and the weight of some of that news. Sleep gives us time to process new facts, as does writing this.
Just putting it all down here, lends it truth; because it’s difficult to hang on to the fact that this is actually happening to me. Most of the time I feel like I am appearing in some kind of drama, and playing a part. When I talk about it, it feels like I am discussing the character’s plotline, not living it. But I know that discussing it with friends, relatives and people like you helps. The story has to be told to become part of my experience and writing this allows that to happen.
The photo that accompanies this post is my first creative photography session post op. It has been strange to feel unable to do anything creative. No motivation or interest. It didn’t worry me, I imagined that it was simply due to all the processing I was living through, though I did find it strange as I often use photography to support that processing, but this period I had no inclination to do anything like that. This photo was my favourite from a desire just to go out and play with multiple exposure in my local park. I don’t know if the photos reflected anything deeper, maybe it was just a bit of fun and that’s what was needed.