Calmly and compassionately, Brendan’s oncologist told us the cancer was back. Giving us time to digest the devastating news, we were not shocked when Dr Viv suggest limb removal as his last option. I felt like every ounce of blood drained from me through an invisible plug hole at that moment. I was terrified.
I had become well acquainted with cancer – Brendan was diagnosed with an undifferentiated Pleomorphic Sarcoma. We were not quite two years into his treatment, and he had already endured three major surgeries, including his amputation. Brendan received seven courses of chemo and as many Oncology reviews – at one of which he received some good news that was taken back a couple of months later.
During those months of treatment and hospital stays, I spent more hours than I can calculate reading up on anything cancer-related I could find. I spent my spare time researching conventional medicine complementary therapies, hemp oil, pumpkin seed, apricot kernels, good outcomes, poor outcomes, a million different diets, cancer staging and everything and anything in between.
I did not look into amputation.
Amputation – One Year on
Brendan’s leg was amputated on the 30th of March 2015. If he chose not to have the amputation, he would die. Yet, it was the hardest decision and phone call I had ever watched anyone make. His amputation was elective surgery.
Chemotherapy continued afterwards as an inpatient. The harsh treatment regimes were a nightmare to recover from when he had two legs, now with only one, it seemed it might be impossible. Brendan’s last Chemotherapy treatment consisted of six days of infusion, with new bags administered every 24hours – and two weeks recovery between each cycle.
The treatment regime was three weeks of treatment – a treatment cycle. Three cycles make up a course of chemotherapy. Each chemo course lasted 3 months – they were all horrendous. At the end of each chemo course, there was an oncology review with the medical team. Before the reviews, Brendan had to have several tests to assess the progress of his treatment. MRI, blood tests, CT Scans, and PET scans were all on the list. My husband had turned into a human pin cushion whose veins were shot to hell. And still, he continued to smile.
After the last radical 6 days of chemo/2week chemo course, the results showed a progression of the disease had not been stopped. We were back to square one, again. A new regime was suggested. Managing the disease with chemotherapy tablets at home seemed like a dream too good to be true. I wondered why it was not the first option we were given, only to realise later it was not a curative solution.
The treatment of chemo tablets at home gave Bren the best quality of life while stopping his cancer from spreading. No more long periods away from the kids or infusions of medication that almost killed him in the hope of killing his cancer would have to be tolerated. He said yes almost immediately to his new regime.
All but one of the six remaining tumours are responding to the tablet. The one that is not was treated with radiation in December. Brendan and I are hoping for good results from the PET scan in May.
Brendan’s medical team are known as a Multidisciplinary Team (MDT). A made up of several healthcare professionals. Bren has been treated by his Medical Oncologist, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Thoracic Surgeon and Radiation Oncologist, along with their Clinical Nurse Consultants, a Nursing Practitioner, Chemotherapy Nurses and a variety of Allied health Professionals.
We cannot fault the care he has been given throughout his treatment so far.
Life’s Good and Hope is limitless!
To those celebrating this weekend – Happy Easter, cheers to chocolate for all!
Obviously I am not a medical professional. I write from my own observations of the effects of cancer on patients and their loved ones from my perspective …a wife and carer.
Always seek professional medical advice if you have any health concerns … your health his important.