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.