The Bucket List

I have just had a quick check back through the “bucket list” that I put together back in August 2009.

Of the 10 things on the list, I have managed to do three of them, with maybe two more done next year.

Great-grandfather is on the cards for 2015, which will be the centenary of his death, so that can wait (although we will probably call in to say helo if we go to France next year too – we usually do).

Cape Wrath could be reasonably easy to achieve in the next 12 months but others will have to wait for time and funds to become available.

Not a bad start though.

A decision.

As expected, at my meeting with the haematologist on Friday morning, he advised that this would be the last consultation that I had with him. He leaves for Australia at the end of June so my next visit will be with a colleague. They haven’t employed anyone to fill his position yet, so it is likely to be a locum consultant.

I can’t say that I am 100% happy with that arrangement, with all due respect to locums, but at least I am fortunate that I am not undergoing or in immediate need for any treatment and all I need is a check-up in three months’ time. Selfishly, I wish he wasn’t going, as I was rather expecting to be under his care for the duration, but I wish him well in his new position.

We discussed whether this natural break in consultancy was a reasonable time to consider the change from the local general hospital to The Christie. He advised me that, in all likelihood, if/when I relapse and need more treatment, it is more than likely that a “traditional” chemotherapy approach would be in order, rather than something more exotic. I have time on my side to take a well-trodden path, rather than put myself at the cutting edge. He even hinted that, if the remission period was long enough, a “first treatment” regime might be on the cards. This would be the same R-CVP as that given to me three years ago, so that holds no fears. This is different from the advice that he has previously given me, which was that a ratchet up of treatment would be necessary.  It all depends upon the length of remission.

I therefore decided that, for the time being, I would be better off in the hands of the hospital staff who know me. If in the future, I do need something more exciting, then they will only refer me to The Christie in any case, so to be fair, there probably isn’t any betterment for being referred there now.

Something else which has “changed” since last time we spoke about it, is the typical length of remission between first and second treatments. His advice on Friday was that typically, someone might have two or three year’s remission between treatments, with an additional 2 ½ years if the Rituximab maintenance programme has been undertaken.  If I am “typical”, that would give me, say, 5 years between the end of the first chemotherapy and potentially needing more. While not looking on the dark side of life, that would put me needing more treatment in a couple of years’ time, maybe ’15 or ’16. That’s not long, really, so I had just better get on with it. Unless I have misunderstood what I have been told in the past, this advice over the typical time periods is different – I will have to re-read this blog to see!

My fourth anniversary of the “hernia” is coming up next week. As I probably said last year, I can’t believe how quickly this time is going, and it’s not just the normal getting old reaction, I’m sure. Already plans are being developed for a 30th Anniversary holiday next year. Not having the funds to visit California as first planned (guide books available for reasonable rates…), we are looking at a tour around France, including a villa in Provence for a week and a return via Bordeaux. If we do this in September, the weather should still be good and the harvest should be in full swing in the Medoc. A drive over the Millau Bridge and two bucket-list items could be dealt with in one fortnight, which would be a result. Long way off yet, though.

Not long until THIS year’s summer holiday so let’s not get too ahead of ourselves and wish our lives away just yet. The time will go past quick enough without living in next year already.

Another month… where do they go?

I suppose that it’s a good thing that a month has gone by with no post to this blog, but the whole point about a blog is that it is updated regularly – I don’t think that once a month qualifies  really. So apologies for that.

What it DOES mean, though, is that I am continuing to be well and not calling upon the good services of the health service of my consultant. It also means that this week is the week for my next quarterly check-up. Friday morning to be precise.

As I have posted before, this is most likely to be my consultant’s last clinic for me. This puts me in a bit of a dilema, really. Do I continue attending the local hospital, where I have received excellent treatment through him and the staff on the haematology ward, or do I consider a new referral (presumably via my GP), to The Christie, the large teaching hospital in Manchester. While that is 50 odd miles away from home, they are one of the two top oncology hospitals in the country. They have excellent facilities and do pioneering work.

My consultant has hinted before that “next time” he might refer me to The Christie in any case as they have the ability to administer interesting treatments such as Zevalin, a monoclonal antibody radioimmunotherapy. This stuff is like the Rituximab, but with added radiation. So, not only does it lock onto the CD20 marker on the diseased lymph cells, like Rituximab does, it also administers a dose of radiation to it while it’s at it. All clever stuff. They also have the ability to do stem cell transplants and other more serious treatments that a more local general hospital might find too much. Who knows what I might need in the future (if anything), but if there is a need for something more challenging, The Christie is the right place for it and it might be of benefit to get into their own system sooner rather than later.

Let’s see what Friday brings.

So, what else did April bring? Easter came and went without so much as a whimper and we did go to the Grand National this year for the first time in a few years. It’s a great day out (especially if someone else is paying – thanks to Adrian!) and fortunately, everyone and their horse got round safely. As usual, we didn’t win any money, but we didn’t expect to.

We also had a trip to Whitby in North Yorkshire last week with some of the Leica gang. We had a good day there and a good overnight stay at The Morritt Arms Hotel, just south of Barnard Castle on the A66. We have stayed there once before, but the owners have spent some money on it recently and it become even more comfortable  Very good food, reasonable wine and very friendly staff. Highly recommended.

Now, it’s time to take stock and think about the summer holiday in Islay coming up at the end of June. This makes it sound like life is just the gaps in between holidays and weekends away – which I suppose it can be really…

I have been invited to speak at an international conference on car parks at the end of May, so that will be interesting, if you like car parks. It’s only in London, not Sydney, or Tokyo, or somewhere similarly exotic, but one can’t have everything.

Our project in Blackpool is really starting to take shape now – the steel frames for the council office and the supermarket are almost complete and the scale of what we are doing is there for all to see. It’s very exciting and worth the time it took to get this far. We have excellent teams working with us up there and it’s a pleasure working with them all. I have put a photo of the site in the Photograph of the Week tab.

Finally, I can’t let today pass without mentioning Betsy, who is two today. She has finally turned into a lovely little dog and has become sensible in her teenage years. Happy BIrthday Betsy. 🙂