Today would have been my youngest brother’s 60th birthday, sadly we lost him very suddenly and shockingly 3 years ago after he was diagnosed with incurable cancer. The same cancer as I had. My lovely sister, the baby of the family, is currently undergoing really difficult treatment for a nasty form of spinal cancer. She’s managing the situation with courage and lots of strength. My dad in his late 80’s had a procedure to remove a cancer spot only recently. My wife’s sister and brother have both overcome having the disease and her niece has similarly come through the experience successfully. Yesterday we spoke with a dear dear friend who is recovering from having a major operation to remove cancer and in a week or so’s time she’ll resume her chemo treatment. The operation went as well as could be hoped and we’re crossing everything that the prognosis remains entirely positive and her recovery continues totally. It’s a horrible horrible disease but I’m in awe of the work that the NHS does in helping people deal with it. I know they get lots of stuff wrong and I’m the first to complain when their admin is hopeless, they postpone procedures at the drop of a hat, and keep you waiting endlessly. But they saved my life at least 3 times and many people we know have cause to thank them too. I wanted to post something uplifting to celebrate people fighting and winning their battles with cancer but wanted to avoid something mushy like ‘You raise me up’. I thought this might be approriate especially since anyone who’s had to spend the night on a hospital ward knows, no-one sleeps…
So I’ve written about my youngest brother Mark before. Two years ago he went for a check up having some stomach issues and was found to have bowel cancer like I had. However he’d left it a bit too late to get the diagnosis and was told it was too advanced and inoperable. Shortly afterwards he was admitted to hospital and died. All this happened whilst we were away on a trip to Italy. He’d gone before we’d got home. He was just 57 and we’d been robbed of a lovely gentle guy who was a good brother, proud dad and doting grandad. This horrible disease has a thing for my family.
As you are probably fed up of reading I write for a living now and, as a rule, I get paid if my clients are pleased with the words I deliver for them. Unsurprisingly the reverse is true too, of course. So I try and get things right and ensure, as far as possible, that the client is pleased with the outcome. It’s the best way to put beans on the table I find.
Well a truly interesting day. I picked up a message this morning from WordPress, the platform providers for my blog site, that it’s exactly 8 years since I started writing and ranting as Pasta Paulie, when we moved to Italy. Blimey. Around 845 separate posts, something over a million words and almost 280,000 visits later I’m still doing it and a few people still check by – thank you so much for your perseverance folks. I’m now writing for a living as many will know – you’d have thought I’d have run out of opinions by now. No chance. Continue reading
This is just a short piece to celebrate two things really; firstly it’s my 800th posting as Pasta Paulie. I never thought it would continue for so long when I started it to keep folks updated following our move to Italy. I certainly never imagined it would attract nearly 275,000 visits. Thanks to everyone who’s come by and those who continue to do so. It’s very much appreciated. Not least because today it’s one year since I had surgery to remove the cancer I hadn’t planned on getting. It’s been an eventful 12 months, probably the longest in my life but all seems well for the moment. I’m deeply grateful to all my family and friends who have been incredibly supportive and who helped and encouraged me through this. So double thanks folks. I hope there’ll be a lot more amusing, compelling, ranting postings to come! Well any would be nice.
Thursday was an interesting day. I had my 3 month review with my lovely oncologist following the end of my chemotherapy treatment. Apart from the drugs causing me to lose sensitivity in my fingers and toes (which causes them to feel cold all the time), I’ve been feeling great for a while now but I still went to the consultation feeling slightly apprehensive of course. Anyway the outcome of all the recent tests I’ve undertaken is that there’s no significant sign of the cancer having returned. Woo hoo. So I’ve been given a 3 month pass before I start the round of tests and consultation again. My wife C and I were very happy to tell our daughters the news this time as you can imagine.
Well I think most people will have twigged by now from the occasional asides I’ve been dropping into recent postings that I was diagnosed with cancer a couple of months ago. Bummer eh. Anyway 7am tomorrow I’m off to hospital for surgery to remove the carcinoma from my bowel and any surrounding tissues. Then 6 months of chemotherapy beckons. I’ve had lots of cards, calls and texts today from friends and family wishing me well which is very kind. Then tonight a pleasant evening’s few drinks and meal at the infamous Anglers with my family. None for me of course. Continue reading
Medical update…….Gary Neville’s first punditry footballing words; ‘be careful what you wish for’. He was talking about a new manager. It’s so banal but so relevant to my own situation.
I had a sigmoidoscopy a week or so ago. I was reminded of Gary’s words before I spoke to the registrar yesterday after she’d consulted on my stomach problem. I was delighted to be told I didn’t have diverticulitis as I really didn’t fancy the idea of having that as an ongoing problem. The downside is I do have something else and I’m guessing it’s not good. And now I need a CT scan and another invasive filmic examination up my back passage, this time to the far far reaches of my colon. Oh deep, deep joy. A slightly inflamed bowel lining seems like a not-too-bad condition now I think about it.
I’m not trying to anticipate what the prognosis might be but here’s the deal. I know I inherited my father’s hair gene. The one which resulted in near baldness at 30. Thanks Dad. But is that the worst that can happen in life? Of course not. Believe it or not full-headed readers but being shaven-headed is massively more appealing to me than struggling with creeping baldness (though a lot of frigging extra shaving work).
My dad and his forbears I forgive. I can live without hair. The problem is that I have more than likely inherited my mother’s Smith family gene for susceptibility to cancer. It’s taken my mum, her brother and sister and own mother. I don’t know for sure as yet but I kind of suspect it given the coded language in which I’m being spoken to and the almost menstruating quality of my early morning sessions on the loo. Sorry to be so graphic readers. Would it have been so bad to have been blessed with my mum’s luxurious hair gene and Bob’s mild stomach issues? Lawdy where were you when it came to overseeing my family’s natural selection processes eh? I think the Great Architect must have had his back turned sorting out those pesky Yorkies when the Lancashire Smith family genome was being assembled.
Hey ho. Another bulletin this time next week folks