Thursday, 21 January 2016

Mum's Cancer Spreads From The Bowel To The Brain


It is not too far short of four years since Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Back then I don't think any of us would have been able to predict where we would be four years on. It was about two years ago that I began work on, Lives & Times, my second fundraising book. At that moment in time Mum had been in remission for a year, and although we always knew there was a chance that the cancer could return, we had pretty much put it behind us. Unfortunately the cancer returned towards the end of 2014 with a nodule on her lung. Mum had already had surgery on her lung just after the original bowel operation. At the beginning of 2015 she had surgery and it was once again successful and Mum was able to pick up her life once again.

During 2015 I pressed on with finishing the book and set a publication date of November 27th. Unfortunately in October at a routine scan another secondary cancerous nodule had appeared on her lung. I think the events of the previous three years had prepared us by this time for such news. It was still a massive shock of course, but Mum knew exactly what would be in store for her in terms of the operation which was set for the beginning of December.

On Friday November 27th, 2015, the Lives & Times fundraising book for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity was published after 18 months of meeting and photographing people. It was an incredibly proud day for me and the response from everyone was amazing ensuring the book has been a great success. However November 27th was also the day when Mum's health took a drastic turn for the worst. Late in the evening she experienced a seizure. At first a stroke was suspected as her speech was affected as well as a weakness in one side of her face, so Mum was kept in hospital for observation. It was then we had the bad news that the cancer had spread to her brain. I have to admit that it had never occurred to me that the cancer would spread there, I thought it had made her lung it's area of attack. Once again this was a secondary cancer from the bowel cancer. She has two lesions on her brain...

A plan of action was put in place very quickly, and at the beginning of January she had three days of "CyberKnife" treatment at Mount Vernon Hospital. This fairly new radiotherapy treatment is very specific in the way it can target the lesions, and the hope is that it will successfully zap the two lesions on her brain. It will be a couple of months before Mum knows the result of the treatment. All this while the nodule on the lung has also been waiting to be treated. This week Mum's oncologist told her that they want to press on with the lung operation. If the lung surgeon agrees this should happen within a few weeks. 

It's been a testing period for sure, and Mum, throughout, has remained positive and very determined to beat the cancer yet again. She will be 80 later this year, though you wouldn't know it the way she continues to keep herself active. She is very frustrated that the brain cancer is preventing her from driving, but she is allowed to ride her beloved horse off road, which is wonderful and provides her with a means of escape and getting away from everything. It's definitely a case of taking things one day at a time at the moment, and for now Mum has turned her attention back towards the lung. She has been through such a lot and is truly inspirational.

So what about the photo? I took this photo on New Years Day at my brother's birthday drinks. From left to right we have Mum, my cousin Sarah, my niece Anna and my sister Ali. Anna had taken charge of the selfie photographs and I managed to capture a lovely moment. Just three days before the "CyberKnife" treatment Mum pressed on as normal and thoroughly enjoying a night out with the family. It's a photo I could easily have used in the book I reckon!

I am even more determined to keep pushing the book forwards and making it as successful as possible. It has raised just under £750 so far. I am hopeful that it will achieve the £1000 goal I set for it back on November 27th. So much support from everyone. From the many celebrities and normal people in the book, to the kindness and generosity of so many people who have bought the book so far. I know when people see a book about bowel cancer it can bring up images of doom and gloom, and not exactly seem like an enticing topic for bedtime reading. All I can say is that the book is anything but that. It's warm, inspiring and uplifting. In fact it is perfect bedtime reading. Most importantly every copy sold, be it the eBook, paperback or hardback edition, raises not just money for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity, but also helps raise awareness about bowel cancer.

To see how you can buy a copy of Lives & Times click here.

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