29 Apr

A Journey to be Repeated

My home is 13.5 miles from the far side of Brighton (21 km), where the regional cancer centre perches on a hill near the cliffs. On Tuesday morning the journey took about 50 minutes by car. One special traffic jam added about 10 minutes. It will be interesting to see what the average journey time becomes during the seven weeks of daily travel over there when I have radiotherapy for my prostate cancer.

Last summer, routine blood tests showed something might be amiss in the nether regions; after an endoscopy, an ultrasound scan and a six needle biopsy, the surgeon concluded I needed treatment. His diary had space in a week or so and he advised radical surgery. The cancer specialist in the next room was a bit more hopeful and advised further blood tests to see just how fast the little varmint was growing. Two days before Christmas, he revealed that the speed was too high to ignore. Treatment began the same day. The tablets were OK, but the monthly injections were through a needle big enough to convey a smallish camel.

The trip this week was for a CT scan, to reveal the exact state of play; have those injections done anything, apart from scar me for life? The oncologist, radiologist and head of physics now plan where to shoot the X-radiation that, we all hope, will shrivel the little tumour to nothingness. A CT scan involves lying on a mobile table jerking slice by slice through a rotating X-ray machine, just as the grocery store cut bacon when I was a kid. Instead of a pile of meat slices, this one gives a sectioned three-dimensional view of my insides.

From mid-May to mid-July, that weekday drive through Brighton will wear me out as much as the few minutes of radiation and the consequent fatigue as my system deals with the dead cells. Travel I like; this—who knows?

Anyway, I’ll keep this blog up-to-date as things move on. If I pluck up enough courage, I’ll share how I’ve reacted emotionally to this bold type notice of my mortality.

29 April, 2005