Monday, July 13, 2009

The cancer mind needs treating

At the weekend I had a visit from my relations.

A dear friend of their mother is suffering with breast cancer. The story sounded very familiar a clinical approach but her doctors to her problem which largely ignored the psychology effects that the treatment of her treatment.

In my earlier blog postings I waxed lyrical to the point of tedium about the lack of psychology treatment to cancer people by those providing health related services. Those who go through cancer treatment are often in a process which is invariably poorly explained (though not in my case) and left to fend to themselves when it comes to dealing with the "post traumatic stress" of being told you could die from this!

The psychology effects are usually left to the third sector if they exist. In the case I heard about this weekend the hospital are doing a wonderful job fighting the effects of cancer but providing very little help in the mind journey that the patient has to undertake. I have a view that in some cases it is arrogance from the part of the clinician in some cases in is treating the process as a production line, but it in most cases it is not understanding the mental processes of those who are undertaking the treatment.

My Oncology Consultant was truly shocking in his understanding of my mental journey yet my surgeon was spot on. It is this inconsistency that I hear about on a weekly basis. I read of couples who split up after Cancer and the trauma it causes.

I am sad that 4 years on from my treatment the NHS are still struggling to support the mind as well as the body in this complex treatment.

Keep attacking !

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Our senses tell us something is wrong. Our senses tell us that the jockey on the 3.40 at Kempton Park will not win because he is wearing the wrong colours! So my wife says as she picks winners based upon colours of silks - never mind all that form book and breeding rubbish.

Today was a day where my sense of smell reminded me of this week 4 years ago, this is where the pain really kicked in. My treatment to date would have been a neck disection and the associated pain that that brought. However this is where things really go nasty, the 6 weeks of radiotheraphy(still an oxymoron) to my head, mouth and neck and 3 sessions of chemo.

I spent this morning at Torbay Grammer School with Will, who by now is nearly as tall as me and at 10 is destined to be a second row forward. I was front row so I suppose it is promotion!

I am on leave today and decided to take the train back from Newton Abbot to Hampshire. As the train wended its way around the beautiful South Devon coast I could see the tide is out. I whinced because I knew I would not like what I would smell!

Regular readers of my blog will know that during my treatment I was leaving in Starcross. Starcross fronts onto the river Exe and is only separated by Brunel's railway to South Devon. It was this railway that I was riding. I approached Dawlish Warren and could see the tide was out. That meant only one thing. The Exe would smell. Not an unpleasant smell like teenage boys pe bags but a smell where sea meets river. It is a pungent seaish smell, but not quite sea smell.

I remember the heat of July 2005 and the smell of the river. Instantly I was transported back to the bads days. The chemo would make me ill with normal smells, the sea, food and perfume. For a few nervous minutes I was transported back to a time I want not to forget, but just remember.

The train sped through Starcross. I realised that my love of the River and that view had been diminished and now turned into a horror show. When I left Starcross I was glad to leave because of the haunting memories I have. It is a real shame because just .5 mile away is the ebach I was brought up upon Dawlish Warren.

I suppose over time they will dimish and disapear. Actually I do not think they will.

I live with pain everyday in the shape of my left head and neck. Their mobility restricted by my life saving operation. This in turn means that my movement is restricted and hurts.

It is funny how memory both good and bad affect our lives, at least I am still here.

Keep attacking! Nige