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A meeting with the oncologist

Not much news to report from today’s visit to see the oncologist, mostly because everything is going so well. We did discuss the Herceptin treatment possibility, though, which seemed to have excited him somewhat more than I have come to expect from his usual laid back self.

First, the sample has been sent for testing. Unfortunately, the test probably won’t be very quick. I may get the results next week, but it’s more likely that I’ll get them the following week.

Second, it was interesting to hear the oncologist’s estimate of the number of people whose oesophageal tumours are HER2-positive, namely about one in six. I should practice throwing sixes with a fair die 🙂

Third, we talked about how the Herceptin would be used. I already knew that it couldn’t be used in conjunction with my current treatment, because it hurts cardiac function in the same way as the epirubicin. The triple treatment I am on at the moment is regarded as the gold standard for my condition, so it would be very hard to consider straying too far from that standard. His idea, which I really liked, was to use the Herceptin as a maintenance drug after the chemotheraphy course was done. What a good idea!

I found it a very encouraging conversation, and I’m impatient to hear the results of the genetic test.

One funny incident. The oncologist stepped out for a moment, and the symptom-control nurse took the opportunity to follow up on one of my symptoms. I’ve been getting a stiff neck and shoulders, which makes my head ache, especially when I wake up in the morning. She asked how I felt about … errr … complementary therapies. I’m sure she was remembering that I had told her I used to work as a research scientist, and would seek actively to understand my treatment. As I replied that I would like to see evidence of their effectiveness, the oncologist walked back into the room. He had obviously heard the exchange, because the biggest smile I ever saw him display split his face in two. It seems that not many patients talk about evidence in a consulting room. We quickly dismissed reflexology, but agreed that aromatherapy — which I chose to think of as massage — might be appropriate.

{ 2 } Comments

  1. CattusMagnus | 25 February 2010 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    I found my way here from LibriVox. Lately I’ve been using it to listen to various things while I’m working on a cross stitching project. The other week I decided to listen to the letters of Abelard and Heloise and I fell in love with your voice. I am a bit of a Anglophile so I love an English accent but it wasn’t just that that I liked about your voice. You seemed very connected with the material and it made me wonder if you had any experience as an actor. Several times I stopped my work and just listened. The material is so moving and you read it so exceptionally well. Well, I went looking for more things that you recorded and ended up here. I’m very sorry to hear that you have cancer. And it’s a cancer that will probably affect your lovely voice. I hope your treatments will be swift and effective, and I wish you and your wife and family all the best. I’d like to keep reading your blog if that’s alright with you. Or, you could just tell me to fuck off. 🙂

  2. icyjumbo | 25 February 2010 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Golly! What a lovely comment to read first thing in the morning!

    I recorded Peter Abelard’s letters between Christmas 2008 and the New Year, partly as a challenge to myself to finish a project before the end of the year, and partly because someone brought it to my attention after all Heloise’s letters had been recorded. Abelard was to have been read by my collaborator’s husband, but he was too busy to record it.

    I had an absolute blast recording the letters. It was a huge challenge, partly because I am not at all religious, but mostly because I wasn’t entirely sure I believed Abelard’s motives for writing as he did. It seemed such a waste to turn away from a love like that for the sake of a church that had treated him so badly.

    You wrote “Several times I stopped my work and just listened.” That is about the highest compliment you could possibly have paid me. I am really touched by it. I have no training as an actor at all, but I like to think that I have a good ear for how a phrase should sound. I do pre-read most of my texts, especially the emotion-laden ones, to be sure that I am hitting the right tone. As a long time LibriVox listener, you probably know that you can search by reader, and you can find everything I have recorded. There are two more solos, both children’s books, some poems, and a number of chapters in collaborative projects. I think you might quite enjoy my recording of Wilfred Owens’ Dulce et Decorum Est. Mine is the fourth in the set. You might also be interested to know that I am in the process of recording the letters of Robert Browning in another duet. The other reader is playing the part of Elizabeth Barrett, as you might guess. Your comment will definitely spur me to finishing that project, although it is rather longer than Abelard and Heloise.

    My voice seems unaffected so far, thank goodness. You’ll have seen from reading the blog that the treatment is going well so far, and my quality of life is very good at the moment. I hope that will continue for some considerable time. Please do continue reading the blog. Comment too, if you like. I love getting the comments, and I try to respond to each of them.