Friday, 26 October 2012

Observations-MOAS I vs MOAS II

 I thought it may be of interest to summarise the differences that I observed between having the first MOAS in Feb 2010 to the second MOAS in August 2012.

 Obviously there were some fundamental differences between the two operations that mean that you can’t really directly compare them. For example there was far more done in the first operation in terms of the number of procedures that took place within the operation itself with a greater number of organs being removed and a total of twelve hours in surgery. The second operation was far shorter; only six hours with no organs being removed and PMP being removed from the Pylorus and Duodenum. However the second operation still required a laperotomy (incision down the front of the tummy) and followed the line of the original scar. There was a large amount of time spent unpicking scar tissue from the first operation to mobilise up the bowl in order to gain access to the affected areas. Finally toward the end of both procedures HIPEC (Heated Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy) was applied where Mytomycin C heated to 42 degrees was poured into the abdominal cavity and the whole area washed with the treatment. So the second operation was still pretty invasive!

 From the start though I did observe changes in the procedures on C2 ward from the first time around.  The first day was pretty similar in that it’s about getting settled in and is fairly relaxed. Day two is a bit more full on with visits from the medical team and the Picolax starting to take effect. The discussion with the specialist nurses regarding the drugs used for pain relief was invaluable. As you will be aware if you have read all of my story I suffered badly with hallucinations the first time around and this was largely down to the drugs used and how they affected me personally. The fact that I suffered so badly allowed for the drugs to be changed slightly which definitely helped me the second time around.  I suffered only with minor effects. There also seemed a more pro active approach toward the whole area of the hallucinations and its effects on the mind from the team this time around. We talked about what could be done to focus the mind on the here and now rather than letting it wander where hallucinations seem to then be able to creep in. The use of a black spot drawn on the back of the hand allows the patient something to focus their attention on if they think they may be experiencing a hallucination. Similarly, objects in the room can be focussed upon. I personally found music played quietly through the speaker of my phone or laptop again focussed the brain on the real world.

 On the day of the operation things were different too.  Rather than the pre op that I had first time around where I was already rather sleepy by the time the theatre staff came to take me down for surgery this time around there was no pre op. I was fully awake and walked down to theatre with the theatre staff. I’m not sure if this is the usual procedure nowadays or just because I am a seasoned patient. Personally it didn’t bother me as I knew exactly what to expect and it was one less drug being added to my system. However I can see that perhaps some more nervous patients may prefer to be under the effects of a sedative when faced with such a large surgery ahead of them.

 After the operation there were some changes here too. I seemed to be moved through the intensive care unit far more quickly and into the new high dependency ward. Throughout the couple of days that I was in ITU and HDU I was very out of it and only remember small amounts. My first real memories post op really start from the point that I was moved onto C2.
From this point onwards I noticed fairly quickly that I felt stronger the second time around. Granted the operation was only half the time of the first and far less was done but I still came out with the same attachments minus the stoma.  I think the fact that I knew what to expect and also what was expected of me made a big difference. I felt more confident.

 One of the things that I didn’t really appreciate was that although I was very pleased not to have a temporary stoma this actually presented its own challenges to a bed bound patient attached to several machines and pipes once the bowel began to work again! I’ll leave the rest to your imagination!

 The final change that I noticed was a dedicated physio on the ward. Jade, had put together a number of leaflets that could be used to help the patient. Initially this was a list of breathing exercises, this proved very helpful to me especially having picked up pneumonia. We followed this programme religiously on the hour every waking hour for a number of days and these made a huge difference to me. I often had to push myself to do them but the effort was worth it. The second set of exercises I was given came with a resistance band and could be done in the chair or on the bed. The other change was that a physiotherapy room/gym was available for use. This is in the process of being developed fully but already has a number of machines that can be used by patients to help with their recovery.

 I found that second time around my stay on the ward was easier. I believe this to be down to a number of factors; the changes listed above, the fact that second time around I was in familiar surroundings and knew what to expect and obviously the fact that it was a slightly smaller procedure. The fact that having done this once before I knew I could do it again and was more confident. I also struck up a great relationship with a fellow patient-Robin and we spent much time talking and comparing progress which undoubtedly helped us both along. We bounced off each other and made light of situations wherever possible, keeping the nurses on their toes and generally created havoc; laughter is a great healer. Luckily Tracey also hit it off very well with Robin’s wife Karen who also stayed on site and I know this helped her too.

 This week saw my return to work. Initially just half days and then gradually increasing it until I'm back to full time. It's just like I have never been away!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

8 Weeks since MOAS II-An update on progress.....

So it’s now 8 weeks to the day since my second MOAS (Mother of all Surgeries) and a great deal has happened on the last few weeks.

My recovery from the operation continues to go very well and I feel pretty good! My strength and stamina is returning and I find myself being able to do more and more. Every week that passes you seem to notice an improvement or that an ache or pain that you had is no longer there anymore.  The area that seems to be taking the longest to heal (not surprisingly) is along the line of the scar. The abdominal muscles below soon start to complain if I overdo things and are a reminder that it’s only been eight weeks since my surgery.
I am doing well with my eating and the volume I can eat is returning to pre MOAS II levels. That’s to say that I can eat a main meal but starters and dessert are out of the question. In total I lost about a stone in weight after the operation and I’m sure it won’t take me long to put it back on again, especially as physical exercise is still a bit difficult and will be for some time.

 With my recovery going so well, we decided last weekend to take a trip to Clevedon for a family day out. The girls took their roller blades and skated along the sea front for a while and then we made the most of the late September sunshine and sat outside a small cafe and ate lunch. With full bellies I persuaded the family it was time to walk it off so we headed along the cliff path towards Sand bay. We walked for around an hour and a half and took in the views of the Severn estuary, both Severn bridge crossings and the hills of Wales in the distance. We laughed and joked as we walked and I took the opportunity to take some photos with the new camera and hone my photographic skills! Once back in Clevedon we found a quiet spot and ate ice cream!

 With things going so well I have recently met with my employer and decided that I’ll return to work on the 22nd October. I’ll do a phased return over a two week period to make sure that I’m fit and able to cope with a busy days work. Luckily I have a desk based job and will be sat down all day but it is very busy and can be very tiring mentally!

Before my return to work I have a final X-ray booked for next Wednesday to check that my Pneumonia has gone. Previous X-rays clearly showed the fluid on the lung but I’m hopeful that this has now gone as I feel much better and can once again max out the Spirometer.

I am also pleased to say that the official launch of The Cancer Survivors Club book by Chris Geiger has been announced in Bristol as the 14th November. The Launch will be held at 18:30 at Foyles in Cabot Circus. As you are probably aware My Story features as one of twenty four inspirational stories from cancer survivors of various types. Tickets are still available but there is limited space so if you’d like to come then please book a ticket at-

Finally I have some sad news. I recently found out that unfortunately Dr. John Sime or “Biocat” as most people knew him lost his battle with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei on 14th July. John or Biocat was a valued member of the Christie’s Pseudomyxoma forum. John died at home with his wife Julia. John and Julia supported me during our Snowdon Horseshoe fundraiser with a donation for which we are very grateful. Our condolences go out to Julia and the family and we will all miss John’s input on the forum. 

Monday, 1 October 2012

Raising Awareness for Pseudomyxoma Peritonei: The Cancer Survivors Club by Chris Geiger.

 I’m very pleased to announce that “My Story” has been included as one of twenty three inspirational survivor stories in a book that has just been released by Chris Geiger; The Cancer Survivors Club. The book includes stories from sufferers of many different types of cancer and will help raise awareness of the rare cancer that I suffer with –Pseudomyxoma Peritonei. I am very pleased that it has been included within the book as often the rare cancers just don’t make it into publications.

The book aims to provide both cancer sufferers and their carer’s with hope from the inspirational stories of survival against the odds.

Official Press Release

Book Launch - The Cancer Survivors Club – By Chris Geiger

The Cancer Survivors Club written by Chris Geiger has been released and is available now for distribution on all major online and independent bookstores. The Cancer Survivors Club will leave everyone touched by cancer beaming with a renewed determination to survive. 

Bristol, UK, November, 2012 ---- Cancer survivor Chris Geiger announces the release of The Cancer Survivors Club; a collection of truly inspirational, uplifting and assuring survival stories.  These stories were submitted from readers of his regular newspaper columns and in response to the worldwide publication of his ‘Guinness World Record’ newspaper article; together with his radio tour.
When first diagnosed with cancer, Chris spent hours scouring bookshops, desperately hunting for books written by people who had fought and survived cancer. “Most of the books I found had been ghost written for film stars. The majority dedicated considerable time to mentioning their celebrity friends or the location of their next film, yet spent little or no time describing their treatment and more importantly how they survived” Chris Geiger said.

Bel Mooney the Daily Mail Columnist said I have no doubt this book will be very useful indeed. When a diagnosis is made many people are afflicted by fear and negativity - which is why stories that give hope are helpful to patient and family alike. Chris Geiger will prove an inspiration.”
The main focus of The Cancer Survivors Club is to help, encourage and inspire people touched by cancer. In addition it provides current sufferers with a distraction from the worries of daily treatment, by encouraging them think about life once they’ve become a survivor and kicked the disease. One of the ways is for patients to start writing their story while still receiving treatment, detailing their experiences. Ultimately Chris Geiger wants patients to make it their goal to become a member of The Cancer Survivors Club and have their story published.

Bob Champion MBE the Grand National Winner & Cancer Survivor said “I feel this is a very inspirational book to read and shows that with courage, determination and a positive attitude cancer can be beaten.”
Unfortunately cancer affects everyone; worldwide there are around 12.7 million new cases diagnosed each year. Every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer.
Chris Geiger had to endure two years of cancer treatment, which included a number of operations, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant before he was finally in remission.
The Cancer Survivors Club is an invaluable read for cancer sufferers, their families and friends. These poignant personal accounts from normal people, demonstrate an extraordinary determination to survive against the odds. It proves with survival rates doubling, anything is possible. 
Chris Geiger wants to encourage cancer survivors to become ambassadors, by using their experience to support and inspire other people who are currently receiving treatment; until they too become survivors. 
The Cancer Survivors Club has an excellent mix of stories, from the most common cancer, to the rarest.  Some of the cancer types mentioned are; Brain, Bowel, Breast, Pancreatic, Testicular, Leukaemia, Nasal, and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Also included in the book are a number of Chris Geiger’s cheerful columns, which include a humorous account of a prostate examination and the dangers of getting sunburnt on a crowded beach. 
Anyone reading this book can’t fail to gain strength and encouragement from the stories within this book.” Chris said. Also included in the book is his Guinness World Record feature.
During the increasing years Chris Geiger has been in remission, he has met and spoken with many newly diagnosed cancer sufferers. “I soon discovered how invigorated and inspired patients became by simply talking with a cancer survivor who understands first-hand how they are feeling.” Chris said.
I’m hoping ‘The Cancer Survivors Club’ will leave everyone touched by cancer beaming with a renewed determination to survive.  “Sadly I didn’t have room for all my newspaper columns, perhaps that’s another book or two someday” Chris said.

About The Author:
Chris Geiger splits his time between Bristol in the UK and Boca Raton, USA.  In 2011, he won the ‘Columnist of the Year’ award, sponsored by EDF Energy, for the numerous light-hearted newspaper columns, publicising the disease and cancer charities.   Other projects to raise awareness include writing a newspaper feature on World Cancer Day, in which he received a Guinness World Record for ‘Most Published Newspaper Article’.  He also writes regular columns, voluntarily for both local and national newspapers.

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