Two days ago I received a phone call which prompted me to write a blog post earlier than I had planned. The call was from a doctor at Velindre who I hadn't met before, on behalf of my Oncologist who is off on leave at the moment. "I've been asked to give you your MRI scan results over the phone so you don't need to come into clinic", he said. "Okay, go ahead" I responded. "There has been another slight improvement". The words I wanted to hear. Chemo is still working and not only keeping Timmy under control but making him lose a bit of weight. I don't know the measurements this time as I haven't seen the scans, but any improvement, no matter how slight, is cause for celebration in my eyes.
"One other thing, in view of this your doctor would be happy for you to pause treatment and take a bit of a break if you wanted, it would be a good time for your trip maybe". Initially I was elated that she thought I was well enough to go away for 3 months, but upon further reflection realised this might not be the best course of action. If I left this week I'd be in places like Australia and New Zealand in the height of their summer as opposed to Autumn as I had originally planned for last year. The heat of Ibiza last year meant I had to stay in bed with a fan pointed at me at one point, so I think temperatures reaching 30 and above would be likely to cause me all sorts of issues. Plus it would mean I'd be away while technically still on chemotherapy, which would cause complications with insurance. Bearing all of this in mind I decided - as tempting as the suggestion was - to continue with treatment instead. If my bloods stay at acceptable levels I'll be starting course 5 on November 2nd and this will keep me on track to finish the 6th and final chemotherapy cycle two days before Christmas.
Now I've gone through the tumour updates I'm going to talk about a related decision I made a couple of months ago: To give up alcohol... Sort of.
This decision was brought on by a number of incidents recently where I've tried to have a normal boozy night out and ended up in a state that I've never managed to achieve in my life, even as a novice drinker the best part of a decade ago. I'd find myself going from sober to utterly gazeboed in no time at all and then doing a variety of stupid things. While this is something many people deal with all their adult lives, it has caused a load of worry for my parents when I get too drunk to contact them and it results in my 71 year old dad wondering around Cardiff at 4am having to ask random strangers if they've seen me and borrow a phone off police officers. This reduction in my ability to handle alcohol is probably down to the combination of not going out very often and the fact my digestive system has been battered about by chemo for a few months.
So because of this - and without going into too much detail about other nights where I've been rescued by friends who let me sleep at their mother's house, and times when I'm reminded about ridiculous decisions I've made by my friends for the next few weeks - I decided that I was no longer enjoying drinking to get drunk. Now, this doesn't mean I'll be going to extremes, I wont be avoiding situations where alcohol is involved and if the situation calls for it I'll have the odd bottle of lager. I just have to abandon my old strategy of drinking one drink and accepting my double vision until it came back after about 6.
In order to prepare for this I've been on a couple of nights out without drinking, to assess the best way to handle it. Luckily after a few years of working in busy nightclubs in Cardiff, as well as years behind my parents' pub bar, I've built up a decent tolerance level for drunk people and the way they act when I haven't had a drop myself. Both times I had a surprisingly good night without drinking, and think I'll be okay with this new arrangement, at least until I'm over all my treatment and can start to think about building up that alcohol tolerance again.
I'm going to get back to packing now, ready for our trip to London in the morning ahead of the live filming of Stand Up to Cancer in the evening.