Sunday, 2 February 2020
Ten Year Survivor Anniversary; Time….how it flies
Today, February the 2nd marks the ten-year anniversary of my first cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC. How time flies…
But what is time? Time doesn’t exist in the way we perceive it, it’s not a natural phenomenon. It’s a man-made invention like the motor car or the microwave, purely there for convenience. There to allow us to count the hours, count the days, count the years, arrange meetings and rendezvous and mark the point at which things happen. A constant, ticking away infinitely, slipping away like grains of sand in the palm of your hand…
07:30hrs on Tuesday 2nd February 2010 marks the point in which I was taken to theatre to start a mammoth twelve-hour operation known as cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC (Heated Intra-Peritoneal Chemotherapy). During the operation I had a mid-line laparotomy, my spleen was removed, my gall bladder removed, my umbilicus excised, I had a right hemicolectomy, my greater and lesser omentum was removed, I had a lower peritonectomy, liver capsulectomy and my rectum resected. During the operation my abdominal cavity was washed with the heated chemotherapy solution and I had a temporary ileostomy.
I remember coming around very briefly on the evening of the operation whilst I was in the intensive care unit. Intubated and unable to speak I remember a blurry, hazy image…a tiled ceiling, a silhouette to the left of me and someone moving around to my right. And a reassuring voice…."don’t worry David, you have had your operation and everything is fine”.
Ten years ago today yet as clear in my mind as the day it happened. I have a great deal to thank the team at Basingstoke for. Ten years of being alive, seeing the girls grow into young women and their independence grow. Ten years continuing to build our lives and make the most of what we have been given.
It’s not been an easy ten years however….
Not long after my recovery mum was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. I’d had my ileostomy reversal operation and just as I was getting better she became ill and underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiology. In 2012 I was re-diagnosed and underwent a second six-hour de-bulking surgery with another 13-day stay in hospital.2014 saw me re-diagnosed for the third time with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei and I remain on watch and wait to this day. In 2015 I suffered a prolapsed disc and had a micro-discectomy on my L5S1 disc, the three-month period leading up to the operation was agony and far more painful than anything I experience with my cancer treatment. I lost a stone in weight and became addicted to the morphine patches that had been prescribed going cold turkey trying to ween myself off of them, a horrible experience. Mum was again diagnosed with cancer, this time a mild form of leukaemia which thankfully is being managed with tablets. 2018 cancer visited us again, this time my father in law. Sadly, he lost his battle just six months after being diagnosed with lung cancer, we miss him immensely. I underwent a second operation on the same disc after a second prolapse in January of 2019.
More recently Tracey suffered a horrific injury to her left foot with a dislocation and open fracture to her Calcaneus (heel bone) after a fall from a step ladder. Tracey then also had surgery to pin her foot back together and close the wound. It’s been a terrible injury and six-months down the line she is still in pain and not very mobile with a long road to recovery ahead.
How do you all keep going friends regularly ask? I’m not sure if I’m honest. We just do. But it’s not all been bad. As I have said previously we have seen our girls flourish and grow. Leaving school, studying at university and successfully gaining employment. We have been on wonderful holidays to some beautiful places and shared some amazing times together. I’m still caving and enjoying photography and the outdoor life. I’m currently awaiting sign off from the doctor to allow me to learn to scuba dive!
Snorkelling in Corfu!
Caving in Wookey Hole, Somerset, UK
However, I am acutely conscious that I do still have cancer. Pseudomyxoma Peritonei still lurks deep within me around my bile duct and my right kidney. Each year slowly growing millimetre by millimetre, at some point something will have to be done and I’m likely to face major surgery yet again.
The results of my last scan in December saw my consultant write to me stating that “there is nothing to be overly concerned about at this point” intimating that at somewhere in the future he would have to step in.
So whilst we get on with our lives and enjoy each day we are given I am acutely aware of time. Time, ticking away in the background whilst Pseudomyxoma lurks in the shadows….. We busy our lives and rush around succumbing to the demands of everyday life all the time the grains of sand silently slipping from our grasp.
So my message to you all is to make time for your loved ones, throw yourselves into life, take every opportunity to experience whatever you can and enjoy every moment you are given as you never know what lies around the corner. After all, time waits for no man……