Category Archives: NHL

This is the end…

No, not that end, but the end of this blog.

And that’s because there is nothing left for me to say on it. After 10 years, it’s job is done.

I am well.

I have actually been well since the end of my chemotherapy in 2010, but it’s only after several years than one can be sure. As time, and research moves on, it is becoming clearer that, for the lucky ones like me, there may be a “cure” for B-Cell Follicular Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma after all. Cure may be too strong a word, but “remission long enough to get you to the end of your life anyway” is how I am looking at it.

Basically, there is a proportion of the population with this who respond extremely well to the chemo and fantastic treatments currently available. Some 80% of patients survive 24 months without relapsing and needing further treatment, or unfortunately, dying. If you can get beyond that 24 month period, then it seems that you are more likely to never relapse. I will be 10 years from the start of my treatment in February and am confident that I am through this now.

Rituximab, as I have said before, has been a game-changer and the newer versions are even better. Great news is that Rituximab is now off-patent and available at a much more reasonable cost, so hopefully more people around the world can benefit. But, thanks to the people at Roche who needed the high price to bring it to market in the first place. Let’s hope that the research ongoing today brings forward better and better treatments.

I will still see my consultant going forwards, but only once per year instead of every six months, but can foresee a time when I will stop that too.

I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but I am thankful for all the people who treated me and supported me when I was ill. And I hope that someone with NHL reading this has got something out of it – that was one of the reasons for starting it in the first place.

Now, it’s time to look forward to a great holiday in the US in the Autumn celebrating Ann’s birthday, our first ever Christmas away from home and a couple of trips booked for next year too.

But most importantly, our daughter’s wedding in a couple of month’s time. It’s going to be a great day.

I will leave this blog with a couple of photos taken a fortnight ago near the Severn Valley Railway, near Kidderminster. What a beautiful spot this is.



Thank you.



PS – Since Flickr now have a policy of restricting the number of photographs on their site and Apple have stopped iWeb, I might set up a photography page on here. I will add a link if I do.

Some good news today

I saw my consultant this morning for my six monthly check-up. When I say “check-up”, I really mean 10 minute chat followed by him giving my nodes a grope and sending me on my way via the phlebotomist, who now recognises me and knows me by name without checking my notes.

Being recognised, while good, isn’t the good news.

The good news is that he gave me the choice of having or not having a CT scan at Christmas, as opposed to just telling me that’s what we would be doing on previous occasions. I chose not to, and he said that was a wise choice. In the US, I would be given a CT scan every visit, but that’s just so that they can spend the insurance money. Over here, even when it is done privately, consultants are a little more patient-centric rather than bank-balance focused. 2016 is therefore a significant year in my post-diagnosis world.

For the first time in eight years, I will not be having a CT scan this year.

The last year that I didn’t have one was 2008, which feels like a lifetime away. So much has happened (as evidenced by this blog…), but so much that is positive has come out of this whole experience. I explained to him that while I would never have chosen this to have happen, obviously, I am glad that it has. I have done things I wouldn’t have done, met people I wouldn’t have met and become a better person that I might have been had it just been a hernia all those years ago.

Here’s to this being the first of many years of not having to have CT scans. I give it two or three. (There’s me, not being able to quite take the good news at face value…)

Oh, and on other matters, I have decided to spend the “reward” funds for being with my company for 10 years on a dry stone walling course. If I can only get the blasted website there to work…

So here we are, seven years on

Time flies when you’re having fun

Exactly seven years and over 300 blog posts later, I am pleased to say that I am still here (obviously) and as fit as I will ever be. My next appointment with the consultant isn’t until next month, but I know that there will be nothing for him to find and I will be good to go for another six months. So, that’s all good.

It’s been a very interesting period, as all those posts will testify. I defy anyone to read back from the beginning – that way madness and a very dull morning will lie – but I am glad I started this blog and I am glad I keep it up. One day it will revert to its original purpose, but I am pretty confident that day will be a long way off. So much for only five years to live! Pah!

A lot has happened in that time of course, but I know that in so many ways, my life has changed for the better. I wouldn’t change a single day and truly appreciate everything that this part of my life has brought to me.

Once again, sincere thanks to everyone who has and continues to support me, even though, at the moment, I am in a quiet patch as far as needing support goes. I will let you know when I need a shoulder!

In other, more important, news, I am also pleased to say that the living room is now 99% completed. I need to order the slate threshold to the patio doors, which will allow me to complete the last of the skirtings, but everything else is just about finished. I have to say that the room looks 100% better than it did a month ago and it is now possible to foresee a time when there isn’t anything to do inside the bungie. It’s been bloody hard work (not just by me!), as previous posts have described, but it’s been worth it.




The outside is a different matter…

A new front door has been ordered and should be fitted by the end of June. Steps are being taken to order a new bathroom and it looks like a rotovator will be hired for a weekend soon. May Bank Holiday as a blitz on the garden?

It will be good to get some turf down there, plant the fruit trees that are still in their pots, and generally tidy the front garden up.

The frog spawn doesn’t seem to have come to much. The cold spell must have done for them, which is a pity.

My life is worthless (well, sort of). And the toppest Top Tip you might ever read.

That’s a bit of a dramatic (over-dramatic) headline, but, according to pretty much all the life assurance companies in the country, it may as well be true.

As part of the house move, the mortgage is going to have to increase. Consequently, I have been making enquiries about increasing life assurance. We currently have insurance to cover the mortgage we have now, but I thought I would take out a new policy to cover the new mortgage and some spare, so that in the event of the inevitable, it would be paid off and my Merry Widow could take that year-long round the world cruise…

Unfortunately, a pedalo on the lake at Hove is about as close as she will get. I am uninsurable.

With a pre-existing condition, I knew that life assurance would be a challenge, but basically the insurance companies don’t want to know. They won’t even cover me for any other cause of death, excluding the lymphoma.

The best they can do is insure me after 4 1/2 years of remission. In my case, they take that to run from the end of the maintenance, which would be at the end of 2016. So, we will revisit this at the end of next year. 

The trouble is, of course, that 4-5 years is the typical length of remission before becoming symptomatic again. With the benefit of the maintenance, that should be longer in my case, but who knows. Cleverly, the insurance companies have made the condition for getting insurance pretty nigh impossible for a lot of people. By the time they get to be in a position where they have been long enough post-treatment, they will be needing the treatment again… Clever.

I will therefore have to rely on the death-in-service benefit through my work to cover the mortgage in the event of me shuffling off. Which is OK, but that money should be used for something else. Like that cruise.

So, to the Top Tip.

Please, please, if you can afford it, buy enough life assurance AND critical illness insurance, while you are young and fit. Or even older and fit. And, if you can afford it, DO NOT STOP PAYING THE PREMIUMS. I had critical illness once but I let it drop when we moved north and were strapped for cash. If have posted before that life would be very different now if I’d still had that insurance. 

There. That’s a word from the “wise-after-the-event”. And you can have that tip for nothing. Don’t leave yourself with nothing when you need it…

How to have a CT scan

Not the sort of thing that you would choose to do, unless absolutely necessary, but I am sitting here starting the process of having another CT scan. I have lost count of how many this is now. Could be the six or seventh.

I thought I would describe what it’s like. What you have to do.

On arrival at the clinic you register your presence on the computer. No need to speak to the receptionist if you don’t want to. After waiting for a while, your name is called and the clinician comes to see you. You will have been given a questionnaire to complete by the clinic when they confirmed the appointment but inevitably, like me, you will have forgotten it. So, they give you another one and you tick all the relevant boxes.

In order for the CT to work properly, you need to drink a litre of a marker fluid. It tastes of aniseed and they offer various cordial flavours to mask it, but I prefer it neat. You have to drink this over a 45 minute period, two cups to start, then more at 15 minute intervals, leaving one cup for just before your scan. This fills the stomach and the bladder and allows the scanner to see your disease more easily, but you are allowed to use the loo if you want to.

You wait.

And then you are called through to the business end of the clinic.

You are handed a basket and a gown and strip down to your shoes and socks and underwear. Your watch and any other metal ornaments are placed in the basket.

A clinician inserts a cannula into a vein and secures it with tape. This is used later.

You wait.

You are called into the scanning room by the radiologist and place your bag of clothes to one side. the scanner is a large, cream-coloured machine with a table area to lie on and the donut-shaped business end that will move over the table and you later.

They ask you to lie down on the table with your feet over the bottom end. A pillow is below your head and you get yourself as comfortable as possible. The radiologist connects a plastic tube to the cannula that will deliver the dye into your blood shortly. If you are having your torso scanned, from neck to groin, as I do, they ask you to stretch your arms above your head out of the way, taking care not to snag the cannula and the tube.

The radiologist leaves the room and works behind his lead-glass window.

They inject the dye into your vein, telling you that you will feel a flush through the body almost instantly and that it might make you feel as if you have wet yourself. It’s amazing how quickly the flush passes through to the extremities; it’s almost impossible to believe that the blood flows so quickly.

The radiologist tells you that the procedure is about to begin. The scanner starts and the table is lifted into position so that your feet can pass through the hole in the donut. The donut passes across your body to reach your head end and you can see the x-ray scanning heads through the ribbon window on the inside of the donut hole. It gets into position and a discordant voice from within the machine tells you to breath in and hold your breath. Which you do.

The scanner then begins to move across your body. You can see the x-ray heads rotating through the window and as the donut moves down, on the face of a control screen, the international radiation symbol is lit.

Breathe normally, please.

The scan is repeated two or three times. It doesn’t hurt. It isn’t noisy like an MRI scan is. You just know that you are at the receiving end of some powerful x-rays. The flush and the procedure are over.

The radiologist comes back in and disconnects the tube and tells you that you can go back to the waiting area.

You wait.

The nurse comes back and removes the cannula, covering the wound with a plaster and you are then free to get dressed and leave. Via the loo…

A few days later, you will receive the results of your test, over the phone or, preferably, face to face with your consultant. I see mine on Wednesday next week, so we should be able to judge what’s been going on over the last 16 months since my last one.

Fingers crossed indeed.

Darkside: the new era starts tomorrow. I will make it count

I see the new consultant in the morning. I have my history printed thanks to this blog – without it I’d never have been able to remember exactly what happened and when – and I have the other details that he will need.

I do feel a little like it’s all starting over again. It’s starting afresh, having this “second opinion”, which is good, especially as he is even better qualified than Consultant Nr 1, but I don’t expect to have quite the same relationship with this one as I did the last.

Which is a bit of a shame. These people become extremely important in your life when the decisions that they make can quite literally mean that you have a better or worse chance of living to your 60th or 70th birthday. It would be nice to think that you can become fairly friendly with them, under those circumstances. However, much like it doesn’t do to get too friendly with staff, should you need find the need to sack some of them, so there is a good reason why the consultant/patient relationship needs to be kept at arm’s length. They need to be dispassionate about the decisions that they encourage you to make when it comes to treatment and don’t need to get themselves personally involved any more than any empathetic person would.

Not that I think that I was very friendly with Consultant 1,  but I had built up a rapport with him and his staff and he did get a couple of bottles of wine and a Christmas card from me. Regardless, I am not seeing these people to make friends. I am seeing them to get the best advice and treatment that I can so that I can spend more time with my real friends and family.

That’s what this is really all about.

Which  brings me to “Darkside”, a radio play written by Tom Stoppard around the music and themes in Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, an album that has been the soundtrack to my life for nearly 40 years. I can’t claim to be 12 when I first heard it, but I can’t have been much more than 14. It’s the only vinyl album that I wore out twice. I listened to the play on the way home this evening – some challenging themes of life, death and philosophy in there, but I felt that there was something missing. The narrative was a bit disjointed. The fading in and out of the music meant that neither the music nor the play were allowed to speak for themselves, if that makes sense. The play would have been better without the interludes and the music most certainly doesn’t need a play over it. Oh well. Maybe they can develop the play into a “proper” play and flesh it out fully. An interesting and worthwhile idea, though.

The most important thing to take from the album, in my opinion, is the lyric from the song “Time”

“And then one day you find 
Ten years have got behind you 
No one told you when to run 
You missed the starting gun”

And from the play

“Life is not a drill”

I have been listening to that album for 38 years and sometimes it’s still tempting to think that the starting gun hasn’t gone off yet. Well it has – a long time ago. I missed it, and have been playing catch-up ever since.

We come this way once and once only. One day it really will be your last and those ten years or even ten days that got behind you will feel like a lifetime.

Make the most of every day. You know it makes sense.

On being a “buddy”, stress and what it might do to you

Regular readers will know that last year I volunteered to be “Buddy” for the Lymphoma Association. When I had my training back in March, they said it might be some time before my first contact, but this week I was emailed by the co-ordinator and given my first buddy. (Actually, I am the “buddy”. I’m not quite sure if the term for the “buddy-needer”, but it doesn’t matter)

They called last night and we had a very good chat for about three quarters of an hour. The co-ordinator tries to match people who would like to speak with a buddy to buddies with the same or similar experience and I have to say that they did an extremely good job this week.

The person who phoned had recently been diagnosed with the same kind of NHL that I have and is going to have their first chemotherapy in September, after taking a short holiday. What struck me about this person’s history was that it was very similar to mine, especially in one important respect. They hadn’t taken any annual leave at all last year and very little the year before.

Now, I have been going on about annual leave, working while on leave and the length of leave taken recently, but that’s partly because I too had a period a few years ago when I couldn’t take the annual leave I was entitled to. About ten years ago, I had taken a new job as a Director of an office and found myself in an incredibly stressful situation. Two of my colleagues left within three months of me starting and the finances of the office were such that I couldn’t afford to employ anyone else to take their desks. I ended up doing three people’s work and running the office too. I would work until half ten at night and at least one day of the weekend, just to keep up. That year I had about 6 days annual leave – if I did want to take a day off during the week, I would have to work the weekend to make up for it. My health definitely suffered (although I didn’t know by how much at the time) and I was glad to get out. It did take me just over three years though. So, now, I do make sure that I take all of the annual leave that I am entitled to each year and do my best not to carry any over.

My buddy contact had a similar story.

Now, as far as I am aware, there is no known cause or particular reason why any individual might develop lymphoma. It’s not a cancer that has a common cause, such as lung cancer, it just happens sometimes to some people. I also know that two people having a stressful job and having the same disease doesn’t mean anything statistically, but it was an interesting aspect of the chat we had last night.

What is also interesting is this story that was published yesterday.

The Stress and Cancer Link: ‘Master-Switch’ Stress Gene Enables Cancer’s Spread

So, I have made a decision. Sod the Blackberry. Sod the emails. Sod work. Next year, I will take a proper, two week holiday, without any of that crap. The world won’t end without me. It might even be good for my blood pressure, if nothing else.

And if you are reading this, and don’t take your full holiday entitlement, or work stupid hours at the weekend, think on.

Your children will thank you for it.

Working while on holiday (revisited)

With thanks to my friend AF for the link, here is an interesting article about the wisdom of keeping up with office work while on holiday.

Staff holiday – why it could be bad for business

I have posted about this before, while I was on leave, and it is interesting that professionals in the insurance and HR industries are thinking about the effect that this has on people.

Still deciding about two weeks next year, but I will take soundings from those colleagues who have been taking split weeks as well as those who have completely left the office behind for two (or more). What I have noticed is that some of the more senior staff within the organisation do tend to go completely off radar while on holiday as do those who read The Guardian. Maybe I need to reconsider the Blackberry in the bag next time, or at least have the email function switched off.

On the other hand there are others with whom I work who refuse to check emails while on leave, then complain that it takes two weeks on their return to catch up with themselves, while in the meantime, decisions get undecided and progress on projects slows. And their stress levels get turned up to 11.

What I did notice myself, having been keeping up with emails, is that I didn’t really feel that I got the best out of my holiday.

I don’t think that there is any easy answer and I don’t think that there is a right answer. But keeping the balance right is the important thing.

Decision time then…

In the past week I have been doing some research into the availability of haematologist/oncologists in the North West. So far I have been concentrating on the Chester/Wirral/Liverpool areas, but I think I might have to cast my net a little wider, so as to include the Christie after all.

There are very few of them about, if truth be known. I have asked the advice of the BUPA liaison company at work (we are not allowed to talk with BUPA directly) and they have come up with a name in Liverpool who I need to investigate further. We found one in Chester, but she’s recently retired and the name of the guy from the Wirral who couldn’t/wouldn’t see me for two months when I was first diagnosed was also suggested. I turned him down. What I need is someone who works in both private and NHS clinics again.

I have been offered the name of a specialist at the Royal Marsden in London, but the thought of having to go there to see him on a three monthly basis and worse still, have to go there and come back after treatment, really is a bit of a non-starter.

So, I will look into the Christie in a bit more detail.

I met with a friend for a coffee in town on Monday and, while it was a warm day, my face was absolutely dripping with sweat when I arrived at the rendezvous. I’d only walked about 300 yards – this is not a great sign. The radiologist that I saw in 2009 questioned me about a very similar incident when I was in a consultation with him, and within 3 months I was in the electric chair. All needs to be watched carefully.

I will gather all the information that I can and see if I can make contact with a new person this week, with a view to seeing them before the end of August if possible.

The reason for this “urgency” apart from the blog entries below? Well, I if I do need treatment soon, I want to be in the care of someone who cares and with the lymph node “feeling” still there, it might be sooner rather than later.

In other matters, a trip to see Roger Waters’ “The Wall” is coming along soon, as is the Wetzlar photographic trip, to include a week in the Bavarian Alps afterwards. The last holiday seems like a long time ago (in truth only five weeks) but October is a fair way off. Maybe I can take a few days off in the meantime.

I sold my Hasselblad (body) this week so now need to dispose of the lens and the Lee filter system that I bought to go with it. I enjoyed using the camera and loved the magic look of the photographs that the medium format produces, but I wasn’t using it very often. Even on Islay this year, I only took three photographs with it, so when the person from whom I bought it expressed an interest in buying it back, I said “OK”. Maybe if and when funds allow, a MF digital camera might be the way to go, but until then, I will stick with the Leicas and the Nikon.


52 not out

Another birthday has been and gone. Another year chalked off and another year to look forward to. I had some very good presents – posh toiletries, lots of books, the usual things that 50-somethings get  – and a night away in Boot, in Eskdale in the Lake District. Thank you to everyone!

We stayed at The Boot Inn, in the village of Boot. We have stayed there before, as a break on a journey to Scotland about 5 years ago, and it’s unusual to be able to get just one night in the Lakes at a weekend. However, they will let rooms on that basis and very welcome it was too. It’s a decent place to stay, but was extremely hot, being at the end of a heatwave, with temperatures up to 30C. The food was good (best black pudding I have ever eaten) and the beer was local. Very good value for money too, so highly recommended.


We took the opportunity to visit some towns on the coast that we haven’t properly been to before. Ravenglass is very attractive. Whitehaven and Workington maybe less so, but interesting nonetheless. Cockermouth is a lovely little town now that it has dried out from the floods of a few years ago – the sort of place that you wouldn’t mind living. Home after a picnic under a tree at Watendlath.


And now, I realise that another three months have gone by and it’s time to pay a visit to the hospital. Friday morning. As I have said before I am a bit disappointed that I have to start a relationship with a new consultant, and I am obviously hoping that I do not have to see the locum, who could easily change again by the next time I see them. However, I should count myself lucky. It appears that if I were at the Christies in Manchester, I would be seeing a different consultant or specialist every time, so as not to only be seen by one person.

I suppose this does have the advantage of getting a “second opinion” each time you pay them a visit, but I do think that I have benefited from being in the care of just one person for these last four years. Let’s see what Friday brings – I always have choices I can take after this consultation.

I have been getting tired recently and occasionally I can feel the nodes in my neck, particularly after a couple of drinks. When I was first diagnosed, a bottle of Peroni beer would make itself known in my neck within half an hour (wine wouldn’t, for some reason). I’m just hoping that this doesn’t mean that the second half of 2013 is going to go the same way as the second half of 2009… you can read for yourselves where that led to and I am hoping to have a few more years yet before opening up that particular door again.

Whatever – there’s nothing that I can do about it and I must cherish what I have, rather than what I can’t have. Be satisfied with my lot and enjoy the moment.

And I am. I try to make the best of every day and every opportunity that comes along, but it’s very difficult sometimes. But I had a bad weekend a couple of weekends ago, where I was over-thinking things and feeling very sorry for myself. Sometimes you need weekends like that just so that those kind of feelings don’t come to the surface too often – get them all out and over and done with. Until the next time.

I wonder what happened to the research that the psychiatrist was doing a few months ago. I never did hear anything else.

Maurice Saatchi, cancer and innovation

As someone who might not even be here if it weren’t for people prepared to take risks, innovate, test, retest, lose battles, win battles and all the other cliché-ridden phrases used in the “fight” against cancer, I read with some dismay this piece in the Telegraph by Maurice Saatchi.

Without innovation we will never cure cancer

He is absolutely right. Innovation and free thought, unconstrained by the threat of litigation if something goes wrong, will find us closer to this futile goal. I don’t believe that we will ever cure “cancer”. Which cancer? There are hundreds of them, thousands, probably, and with an ageing population more and more of us are going to get it.

BUT, we will never even begin to get closer than we are without us all being prepared to take risks, either for ourselves, our patients or our fellow man.

If and when the time comes and I am asked to join a clinical trial for a new treatment, after some careful consideration, I am most likely to say “Yes”. I owe it to myself, my fellows who also live with this disease and those who are to come. But also to those who have gone before. The mustard gas victims  Those who were prepared to try new drugs and treatments before me – they are the ones to whom I owe the biggest debt.

As my blog title says, it’s “My turn this year”. One year it will be my turn to step forward and make my own contribution to this process.

Provided they are still allowed by law to innovate of course…

Negative and Positive thoughts after the Lymphoma Association AGM

I had the pleasure of attending the Lymphoma Association AGM and Conference in Guildford a couple of weeks ago. This was my fourth conference and this one was the best yet.

One of the speakers did a presentation on “Watch and Wait”, a subject too close to my heart, suggesting that the longer that one is on this particular regime (i.e. do nothing but attend regular clinics and wait until symptoms appear) the easier it gets. Well, I have to tell them that they are wrong. It doesn’t. As time progresses, the waiting becomes more onerous. Someone else at the conference described it as “Watch and Worry” and, while I don’t necessarily worry about it, I am somewhere between a worrier and a waiter.

I am finding that, knowing the typical progression of the disease (as I described last time), it becomes increasingly obvious that the months are going by at a rate of knots. It seems like only a week since my last blog entry, but at the risk of repeating myself, it’s actually a month away now. So, contrary to the advice of the speaker – who was not a sufferer themselves – this particular patient is not finding it easier over time. Yes, I know that there are some people who have been on “Watch and Wait” for over 20 years – poor sods – and I know that I am young and relatively fit so some of the stats might not necessarily apply to me, but that doesn’t make it any easier. However, it is important to think positive and remain optimistic. The conference was very good at providing good cause to be so.

It was very well attended this year – over 200 people in the audience. As I have found in the past, the most interesting and relevant presentations are those which give a brief insight into upcoming treatments for lymphomas. I would hazard a guess that for the vast majority of attendees, be they sufferers or loved ones / friends, the most important aspect of the event is to know that there are some very clever people around doing extraordinary work, to make our lives better for longer.

One particularly interesting development, to go along with the established treatments and those that are coming through already (such as the Zevalin I have written about before) was that of the use of genetically modified T-Cells. T-Cells are part of the immune system, with one type of T-Cell being especially good at killing rogue cells. The use of other people’s T-Cells can be very effective at killing your own lymphoma cells. But… the problem is that they kill other cells too, including those in the liver, skin, gut and elsewhere. This is not so good.

However, by genetically modifying the patient’s own T-Cells, which would normally not attack other host cells, this problem can be overcome.  The technique was described as a bit like the addition of the Rituximab marker to the patient’s T-Cells, so that these cells would only latch onto the diseased lymph cells, and no others. This all seems very exciting, and having been used for other kinds of cancers, trials for lymphoma treatment start in 2014. This is extremely expensive medicine and would only be used as a treatment of last resort in the medium term, but it does sound very exciting.

I do think that genetic medicine really is going to be a massive contributor to the wellbeing of the population during this century. Now that the cost of doing a full genetic map of an individual has come down in cost so dramatically (they are talking about getting down to £100 per individual soon), treatments specifically tailored to an individual on a genetic level will soon become a reality for normal people. Whilst it is already possible to work out the genetic composition of an individual’s lymphoma, and put together a specific treatment regime for that, the costs are prohibitive. Maybe, this is all about to change.

I hope so. And if that’s not positive news worth thinking about, I don’t know what is.

A long, long time ago

I wrote the last entry here. And quite a lot has happened that I really should have written about before, but will now play catch-up.

Last time I was looking forward to Copenhagen, about which more later. I have also had the first of my 3-monthly watch-and-wait checkups. Finally, I got to see the results of the CT scan I had in August. As my haematologist had predicted, the CT scan showed no sign of enlarged lymph nodes, which proves that both the chemotherapy I had in 2010 and just as importantly, the maintenance therapy that finished in July have both done their job. This is excellent news and means that I can, with a bit of luck, look forward to two or three years of respite from the treatment. I just have the watch-and-wait to think about.

The bad news is that my “man” is emigrating to Australia. Since he was the first sensible consultant that I saw, back in 2009 and has been instrumental in my treatment plan ever since, I am a bit disappointed. Very selfish of me, of course, as he is going to take up a Head of Department job in a large city main hospital. And it’s in Australia. Even BUPA aren’t that generous. So, in the New Year I will have to find myself another consultant. I will have one more check-up with him at the end of January, so maybe he will have a plan of action then. He did say that the next time I needed treatment, he would refer me to the Christie in Manchester, under one of their professors, but whether that’s necessary for check-ups, I doubt. I will have to do some digging around myself, I think.

Now, then, Copenhagen. Cue a song with “Wonderful” in the title…

It is a wonderful city. The hotel we stayed in, the Copenhagen Strand was clean, comfortable and very well located. A bit pricey though, especially since breakfast (which was very good) wasn’t included in the rate for the room. We were close to Nyhavn, the real hub of the tourist area and the scene you imagine when thinking about Copenhagen, if that scene doesn’t have a mermaid in it. In fact, it looks a lot like this.

The quayside is wall to wall bars and restaurants, with some sort of dodgy looking club thrown in the middle for good measure. There is another hotel right at the end of the row and plenty of ships and boats moored alongside, some of which appear to be actually working.
Kulturnatten was a bit of a let down, I have to say. The bits we saw were more like any Friday night in Liverpool, but I’m sure that if you are a native, or least a Danish-speaker, things might have been more interesting.
Apart from the weather, we did have a very good weekend, but boy, is it expensive there. It was rare to get a two course meal with a bottle of wine for under £100, but we did eat in some interesting places, including Cap Horn, one of the restaurants on the strip above. I braved a herring starter – and wish I hadn’t – but the rest of the meal was very good indeed and the place has a terrific atmosphere. We walked past Noma, one of the world’s top 5 restaurants, but unfortunately it was closed. Also fortunately, we hadn’t booked 3 months in advance either, so that wasn’t a problem…
Finally, the mermaid isn’t worth the walk in pouring rain. She might be worth it on a sunny afternoon, though.
All in all, a good weekend, even if the One Challenge competition proved to live up to its name once again – winning in Berlin seems like a very long way off now…
And now, at last, it’s wedding time. 10 days to go and we found out today that the bride-to-be was in hospital last week with pneumonia… What a great way to start your preparations! As far as I know, however, all that side of things is properly sorted out and all planned and ready to go; we will find out the truth this Sunday.
All suits and shoes and dresses and handbags are bought. I do need to organise a decent taxi to take us to and from the hotel, though – a job for Saturday morning, I think.
There, that’s it since the end of September.