NCRI Consumer Group and more good news.

At Christmas, the Lymphoma Association asked whether any of their consumer group members would also be willing to volunteer to become lay members of the National Cancer Research Institute Consumer Group. With the DIY works to the bungalow coming to an end in a few weeks time, I decided that I could afford the time to volunteer my services, if they would have me. Organisations like to have non-medical members to read and evaluate papers and reports and contribute to the process from a the viewpoint of someone who consumes cancer services, rather than provides them. Obviously I am rather hoping that I never have to be a consumer again, but I am happy to share my experiences and thoughts on whatever comes along.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended an interview in London, and I am very pleased to say that I am one of the new recruits. Unfortunately, they are having a training session while we are in Norway, but I will attend the next one when they run it again in September and I am looking forward to the first meeting proper just before Easter.

In a strange way, it is a really exciting time to be a cancer sufferer if you are lucky enough to be in remission from lymphoma. I know that my experience is not necessarily typical and that the picture is not rosy for everyone with cancer – far from it. But there is yet another article on the news today about how immunotherapy can be used to make the body deal with cancerous cells itself. I posted a few months ago about how chemotherapy may become a tending of the past in only a few years and today’s news appears to be a big step along that way. There was also news about switching on T-cells ( part of the lymph system and similar to but different from the B-cells where my cancer sits ) earlier this week. These cells can be tricked into fighting cancer cells elsewhere in the body, potentially avoiding the need for chemo or radiotherapy. 

It really does feel like we might be getting somewhere with this and I am hoping that my membership of the NCRI panel can help in a small way to moving this forward. 

Maybe it’s time to think about another cancer research charity book? Because, one day, we will get there. 

To the frozen north. 

Friday morning, I’m sitting in seat 12B on flight BA 174 to Oslo, and, with a bit of luck and literally a fair wind, I am in the process of ticking off another Bucket List entry.

We are spending the weekend with our good friends who live in the city and then, on Monday, heading above the Arctic Circle to Tromso. Having checked the weather forecast at least twice daily for the past week, we have a reasonable chance of seeing the Northern Lights on our overnight excursion on Wednesday, if not before. Provided that the solar activity is sufficient, too, of course. I have several fingers and toes crossed – you need a bit of luck if you are just visiting the north for only a few days. We will see.

Preparation for this trip has been somewhat different from previous March weeks. Regular readers over the last nearly seven years will have seen that we try to take a week off in March. We have been lucky enough to be able to go to Venice, New York and San Francisco, to name a few, all of which have been interesting and great experiences. But all of them have a been to fairly temperate climes. In San Francisco last year we were in shirt sleeves and in Venice a few years ago, all we needed were a jacket or light jumper. This year will be different. 

I tried to liken it to a trip to the moon this morning over breakfast, but was told not to be ridiculous. Ok, perhaps that is putting it a bit strongly, but we have had to prepare somewhat differently this time. Whereas it would usually just be a case of taking normal clothes and coats,etc, this time, we have had to buy very flattering thermal underwear, merino wool fleeces and socks and padded jackets. We haven’t gone overboard on the jackets, but they’re not something that we would normally have bought. Really cold weather gear can be hired in the town itself quite reasonably, but even in Oslo, it is likely to be below freezing and snowing when we get there.

As well as the overnight minibus dash across Scandinavia, I have also hired a car for a day, so that we can explore some of the coastline and fjords and, with a bit more luck, find some photographs. I am looking for a couple to hang in the living room when it’s finished, so a fjord and an aurora one could make for a nice pair.

So, this year’s March break is going to be a bit of an adventure into the unknown. I will post some iPhone pics along the way if there’s anything to share.

Oh, and not to look forward to the end of the holiday before it’s even started, on the Saturday we get back, we can fire up our new wood burning stove for the first time and feel like proper Scaninavians 🙂 

My plan to compete all the works to the bungalow by Easter will not be possible, as the new French doors won’t be installed until the week after, and I will then need to lay the new floor, but we won’t be far off. Will need to sort out the bathroom afterwards, but that was always to be the last thing to do. It will be good to have the place done and know that we can move on to doing work in the garden over the spring and summer.

If we can get the bathroom and the garden sorted by 13th August, we will be able to look back at a good year’s work.