Medicate With Tea

I’ve just come back from my latest (now) three-monthly review, renewing my love-hate relationship with the nasal prowler. A different consultant, unsure of my past notes, but reassuringly thorough during the examination. He’s happy with my progress and fields my questions with ease: I feel suitably relieved, as do the rest of the family with this news. We march on…

I’ve had a number of unusual ailments recently, i.e. ones which don’t involve winter sniffles / man flu or falling over stuff. Its never been in my nature previously to panic, but now you can’t help feel that they could somehow be linked to the cancer. I’ve since had a number of additional blood tests and examinations, but the doctors don’t feel I’ve any need to be concerned – so I’m won’t be. I still can’t shift the mouth ulcers, or the nightly dry and sore throat, but the Lymphoedema has calmed down, so the need to massage is significantly reduced, and the Kinesio tape is consigned to the bin. 21 months after the cancer symptoms made themselves known, life feels pretty normal.

At present, there is much publicity regarding cancer awareness in both the media and social network sites, with many warnings about the increased likelihood of people developing the disease in the future. We’ve been vigilant to the dangers of smoking for many years now, but we’re gradually becoming more aware about how much our diet and alcohol intake can potentially be instrumental in causing cancers. A review of how both lifestyle and diet affects the risk was published in 2011, and it found that 4 out of 100 cancers were linked to alcohol, and around 1 out of 10 cancers may be connected with your diet. Factors included eating less than five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, eating too much red meat, not eating enough fibre and taking on board too much salt. Apart from obesity and alcohol, there isn’t much specific evidence at the moment that diet can reduce cancer risk, but a healthy diet may help and it will also lower your risk of other diseases, such as heart disease.

I’ve become far more conscious of my diet since treatment ended: this doesn’t mean I’ve become a born-again food fascist, just minimising processed foodstuff and taking on board far more fruit, salad, nuts, vegetables and fish. My strangest side affect is that I’ve developed a sweet tooth: I find it hard to resist chocolate, something I could previously quite happily live without. If I come round to yours, hide the Kit Kats (other processed choccy bars are available). I’ve also developed an addiction to infusion teas (otherwise known as ‘hippy sh*t’ tea to my friends). Considering I’d not gone anywhere near a teabag in my previous 55 years, this is quite a step change.

Apart from that, things are generally steady. Cancer rarely comes up in conversation until I think about the three-monthly inspections. It’s quite satisfying to be getting on with my life: it’s also great to be going to lots of gigs again. I’d forgotten how much I missed sweaty venues with sticky floors…

Until the next time!

PS. Yes, the title is yet another song reference: ‘Medicate with Tea’ by Emilie Autumn

PPS. The latest use for a Radioactive Mask (no.7): take it skiing.



Take good care of yourself

I haven’t posted for a few weeks, but having delved through the site stats I noticed that the blog has been in existence for just over six months, with 5,000+ views. It’s received some very positive feedback from a variety of sources, for which I would like to thank you all. I’ll make sure to add frivolous content on a regular basis: hopefully it continues to inform and make people laugh / wretch uncontrollably. 

My consultant visits are now at 8-week intervals, with the next one set for the first week of September: they obviously feel that, almost 10 months after treatment finished I’m considered a lower risk (or they’re just too busy / can’t be bothered). Having said that, my throat remains sore and dry overnight, the jaw is still an issue, the lower neck has to be pummelled three times a day to drain fluid, and ‘dense’ food continues to be a problem – but taste is improving. Unfortunately, red wine is off the list: I keep trying, but just can’t enjoy it. Damn and blast… 

There was an interesting article in the Lancet last week relating to the link between 10 of the most common cancers and being overweight/obesity, with a warning that an expanding waist could be the cause of approximately 3,500 new cancer cases each year. The study identified that the risk of developing each cancer rose with each 5kg/m2 in body mass index. There are caveats in any body of research, but as the findings were based on data from over 5 million people, it has enough validity for me to continue keeping the weight off: during / post-treatment I lost 24kg, then put 2kg back on, and it has now stabilised. 

Fresh fruit, salads, fish, chicken, pasta & sauces, yoghurts, etc.: these all work well for me. Nuts (non roasted or salted) are also on the agenda, but try as I might, almonds defeat me. It’s like chewing wet concrete, but not as tasty. Exercise has been sporadic, but I now spend 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, on a rower. I need to sip water every 5 minutes as the mouth & throat gets dry, but it’s going well: I reckon I’ll reach London soon.

I’m busy with design and project management work – part time, but it’s great to be involved again, and I’m enjoying it a lot. Apart from that, we’ve spent some time watching the cricket, including two days at the Oval watching a resurgent England team demolish a completely disinterested Indian side. Finally, we’re looking forward to going away for a rather special holiday later in the year, to make up for the one we had to cancel last year. We’ve just had a whole selection of vaccination shots; it’s no surprise that I’m completely cured of my fear of needles now… 

Catch up soon!

 PS. Yes, you’ve guessed, the heading is yet another song title 🙂

PPS. 101 uses for a Radiotherapy Mask No.5: invite it to Costume Balls


…and a day at the Oval