Life has been rather hectic since I last posted. Like most of you we have been busy shopping, socialising and visiting or hosting guests over the festive season and I wouldn’t know how to begin thanking all the family and friends who have helped us have such memorable times. A huge thanks from Robin and I to you all.
Medically I got off to a great start on Sutent. After the initial funding fiasco (see previous post ‘Extra Time‘) my oncologist at the Western General in Edinburgh was happy to prescribe the drug, while noting some concern over low haemoglobin levels. This will be monitored and if it drops too much I may require blood transfusions. It’s the reason I look increasingly pasty and have bouts of fatugue. Otherwise my blood counts and general well being were decent so he started me off on the full dosage for Sutent – 50mg daily for four weeks, followed by a two week drug-free break.
Few patients tolerate this optimum dose so I was relieved to make it through the cycle with tolerable side effects, although I discovered at the end of the four weeks that my blood pressure had shot through the roof. Over the two week break period it deflated. When we saw the oncologist again just before Christmas he was heartened by my hypertension and low thyroid count as recent research has indicated that these can be biomarkers of Sutent’s efficacy (published info on hypertension and Sutent). He was optimistic that the drug IS having an impact on me and recommended I return in a week for another full blood count. If levels had normalised he was happy for me to continue on the full 50mg dose, hopefully for at least another cycle – research also indicates that patients who can tolerate at least two cycles on the 50mg dose are linked with the best results. When I returned to the hospital this morning all was deemed acceptable and I picked up enough tablets for another four weeks on the 50mg dose, to be recommenced on Tuesday.
Hopefully I can get some shrinkage and not just stability from Sutent. The results of the scan I had at the end of November indicated that there had been considerable growth while I was off treatment. The largest abdominal tumour, which gives me a lot of pain and trouble, is now over 6.5cm and the Edinburgh radiologist report indicated that there are cancerous tumours in my lungs and a cancerous lymph node in my chest. Fingers crossed the Sutent can not only halt but reverse this creeping decline.
I should give more detail but feel disinclined to list the minutiae of my disease at the moment. The last few paragraphs seem like an absurd self-indulgence. The big things in life, the truly important stuff, were brought into very sharp focus for my family on 13th December. Since then we have been numbed with the shock of the loss of my uncle Dougie, a relatively young man at only 55 years of age, whose death from a heart attack was brutal in its suddenness.
Douglas Peden was a decent and, as properly lauded at his moving funeral, steadfast man, one whom many turned to in time of crisis for sage counsel. He was also known for a great sense of fun and humour and enlivened many a family gathering with his wit and good cheer. Respected and liked by his many colleagues and dearly loved by his family and friends his death has left a gap in many peoples’ lives.
He leaves a yawning chasm in the lives of those precious to him. Sudden death, with no opportunity to prepare for the loss, creates particular problems. My lovely aunt Marion has been instantly abandoned of her very best friend and cherished life companion. His daughter Alex is now bereft of the love and and wisdom of a caring and devoted father. They have borne their shock and loss with a terrible dignity but they are suffering a challenging onslaught. Hopefully the memories of Dougie – his legacy of strength and compassion, effectively his living memorial in those influenced by him – will help them to withstand this dreadful grief.
Dougie, as noted by one of his good friends at the crowded funeral, would always toast ‘absent friends’. A number of our relatives are going to gather at New Year to raise a glass to Dougie. We will try to celebrate his memory and there will be some lightness and laughter, as he would have wished, but amidst the smiles there will be a great sadness in all our hearts; every family occasion from now will be one blighted by absence.
I’ve experienced the melancholy of a few losses of cancer compadres this year but those were dull pains compared to the sharp sorrow of losing a dear uncle. So today this blog pays tribute to Dougie, our much loved absent friend.
Douglas Peden 17/04/1956 – 13/12/2011.