Monthly Archives: October 2012

Help defeat cancer from your computer

Cancer Research UK has been working with Citizen Science Alliance who are involved in the Galaxy Zoo project which “crowd sources” to spot astronomical things. Well, between the two of them they’ve come up with a crowd sourcing approach to spotting cancer cells. Please read this article from Cancer Research UK for more info, or go to this site to just get stuck in! You never know, you may just be the person who helps someone.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cancer, cancer research, Click to cure

Job Search

It’s now three and a bit months since I finished chemo, my hair is growing back pretty well and my stamina has been on the increase so it seemed like it was time to start looking for employment – my first employment since moving to the US.

Despite the woe-sayers on t.v. there are lots of jobs out there, many of them are part-time, many are temporary and many are poorly paid. After some seven years of sustaining a long-distance relationship do I really want to take a contract to work on the other side of America when the contract is for only six months? I don’t think that idea would go down very well with my wife even if I were to consider it. Anyway I have been applying for jobs but I’m finding it to be a very tiring process. After all over the past 10 months I’ve rarely concentrated on anything for more than, say, 15 to 20 minutes and here I am now wading through, literally, hundreds of job adverts each day, checking some out and discounting the overwhelming majority. I even apply for some: in the past week I think I have put in about ten applications, but it is tiring. I also find it frustrating at times. For instance yesterday I completed an application to work at a bank. I started filling out the on-line form which informed me that I would be expected to upload my resume as part of the application, so, naturally, I overhauled my somewhat complicated resume to angle it towards this particular post and I guess that probably took something over an hour. Having done the overhaul and uploaded the resume I continued with the on-line application only to discover that they wanted all the information which I’d already included in my resume! Anyway, I overcame my frustrations and continued with the application to discover at the end of the application that there was an on-line test I would need to take which would probably take between 45 and 60 minutes. Lovely! I reckon that this one job application probably took something over 3 hours to complete in total and it’s not even for a well-paid job. Despite spreading out the process I was left very drained simply from having to concentrate and I do wonder how I will perform in a job situation. On the plus side the more of these applications I do the more I develop my levels of concentration so the better I should be when push comes to shove and even if I do get called for an interview for one of the jobs it’s unlikely to happen for at least another couple of weeks and by then I should be further down the road to recovery shouldn’t I?

There’s clearly a lot more to getting over cancer and chemo than simply stopping the chemo and regenerating hair!

This weekend Bill Penzer is hosting a party for those of us referred to in his book which I mentioned a while ago and which I understand is now available in shops and via Amazon. I’m really looking forward to meeting Bill having spoken to him several times by phone. I wonder whether he’s as excited at the prospect of meeting me!

Leave a comment

Filed under Bill Penzer, Cancer, chemo, chemotherapy, Job Search

Can we stop cancer cells talking to each other?

Here are some very recent articles on cancer research. Hope there’s something here which might be of help.

Can we stop cancer from spreading by stopping the cells communicating with each other? http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121012-combating-cancers-conversations

 

A blood test which can predict the level of aggression in cases of prostate cancer http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/news/archive/cancernews/2012-10-08-Gene-barcode-blood-test-can-predict-aggressive-prostate-cancers

 

Magnetically activated cancer-killing anti-body http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/news/archive/cancernews/2012-10-08-Scientists-develop-magnetically-activated-cancer-killing-antibody

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Cancer, cancer research, cancer treatment

So I REALLY need a colonoscopy?

I saw my oncologist, Dr Taché, on Friday, it’s the first time I’ve seen him since my scan gave me the all clear. He wants me to have a colonoscopy. I’d thought that my last scan revealing no cancer in my body after six months of chemotherapy would have meant there was no need for a colonoscopy, but, no, it seems I still ought to have one: I will leave you to imagine the sense of delight I experienced on being given this information!

Dr Taché also thought he detected a “click” from my heart and so he wants me to see a cardiologist to get a specialists opinion. Now, I don’t know about you, but, until Friday I’d never heard of a “heart click”. There’s not an awful lot about it on the web but it seems that the “click” is the sound of the heart’s valves as they open and close. So, far as I know this “click” has never been detected before and so, presumably, it’s a relatively new development post-dating the chemotherapy and therefore, I presume, possibly being a response to the poisons pumped into my body during the six months of treatment. Am I concerned? No, not especially, as, from what I could discover, this is by no means an unusual thing, and, as I’ve experienced no cardio discomfort when exercising or going about my daily business, I doubt it is anything significant at the present time. To the extent that I am concerned it is that I’m now getting to an age where the body functions nowhere near so well as it used to do (if I’m honest I hit that age a while ago!), so my concern is that this “click” may be the harbinger of more medical problems. Hopefully the cardiologists advice will be to lose weight and exercise steadily.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cancer, cardiology, chemo, chemotherapy, colonoscopy, Dr Jason Tache, heart click

The Hood and The Dark House

Yes, I know this sounds like the title from a detective story written in the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, but it’s not. No, it’s what happened to me yesterday evening.

Some of you may know that my wife and myself signed up for Davie Police’s Civilian Police Academy, but, what you may not know, is just how much we, and I suspect everyone else, are enjoying it. Last night was as good as anything we’ve enjoyed previously but because we were more involved it was even better.Last night we met Sergeant Choquette’s Training Team and we got to play with them, or maybe it was them playing with us. Clearly a major concern for any US police department is the proper use of firearms: a wrong decision and someone who shouldn’t be dead could be. Last night we got some insight into some of the training which Sergeant Choquette puts his officers through.

The hood is exactly that. As the trainee we stood in the centre of the floor and a large hood was lowered over our heads. Our instructions were to react to what we saw when the hood was removed. We were told we could stand still, we could move, we could do whatever we wanted, we could even shoot the hand gun if we wanted. So there I was, standing still in the darkness and wondering just what would confront me when the hood went up. The “what” turned out to be a tall guy who approached me very rapidly gesticulating wildly and talking loudly. You can imagine I felt threatened as that’s the nature of the training so, up came my gun and I pulled the trigger but nothing happened. The guy who was approaching me had, by now, got very close and started bending down and reaching close to my gun as he told me he was looking for his dog and it was about so high. How could he carry on telling me this when I’d shot him? I didn’t know but as nobody else knew I’d pulled the trigger and the guy was no threat I kept quiet about that one! Down came the hood again and when it went up this time there was the same guy facing me with the gun raised to shoulder height and pointing straight at me. You can imagine my gun came up faster than John Wayne’s ever did and I pulled the trigger several times but nothing happened. Eventually someone said I should have fired and I explained I had. It turned out I’d left the safety catch on. So, current score is one dead member of the public and one dead me. Not doing too well so far was I? Now for scenario 3. The hood goes up and there’s the same guy dragging someone who is clearly a hostage across the front of me. Naturally my gun comes up and I fire. Equally naturally I hit the hostage as I’m still shooting John Wayne style and not really aiming! The scenario continues and eventually I manage to make a head shot at the kidnapper. Final score is four dead and only one of them was a bad guy!

For the dark house exercise I worked as one of a pair and our assignment was simple. There’s been an alarm at a house which is in darkness and our task was to go in, armed with handguns and flashlights and clear the house of any intruders. Somehow it just didn’t feel as it looks on t.v. We heard the sound of guns being fired but hadn’t a clue where the sound came from. We managed to catch one of the intruders before the exercise was over but I think, in a real situation both my partner and myself would have been killed long before that moment. The officers we spoke to said that this is the kind of scenario which happens to them on a fairly regular basis although they would normally send for a SWAT team to clear the house.

Once again the officers of Town of Davie Police impressed with their enthusiasm for their job, their knowledge and skills, their desire to do a good job, their desire to get it right, and their desire that the public understands what it is they are doing.

This course is becoming something like a good book. You know when you are enjoying reading it so much that you just want it to go on and on and yet the nearer you come to the end you regret that it is going to finish? Well, that’s how I’m beginning to feel about this course. Last night was session five out of ten so I’m already beginning to think of life without something to do on a Tuesday evening. Whoever thought I might be sad NOT to be going to a police station?

2 Comments

Filed under Davie Police

Post-Cancer-Cure Blues

It’s now quite a few weeks since I was told that my cancer had been defeated and that I am now clean and the intense sense of elation continued for quite a while being supported by such amazing events as my eyebrows and eyelashes growing back so that my face started to look something like it had done before the chemo, being able to climb the stairs without having to pause or take them one step at a time, being able to go out and have meal and so on, but, by the end of last week and through the middle of this, that feeling of elation had disappeared and the best that could be said of how I was feeling was “flat”: a more honest self-appraisal would probably have been “down”, not depressed but very definitely down. There was no particular reason for this, nothing had gone wrong, I was and am still very grateful to be alive, but I definitely felt a bit down and a little stressed. As I said, I don’t really know why, perhaps because I had been up for so long, perhaps because others think I am now fully functional and back to normal all the time whereas I know that isn’t the case and trying to be that way all the time creates its own stresses. Perhaps I was like that because I’d simply done too much physically exercising on the Wii most days and doing house-work to boot on occasion, and this activity had left me drained.

Whatever the cause things began to change yesterday (Thursday) when I went to take my written and practical Florida driving tests. Now, I’d worked pretty hard on learning the Florida Drivers Manual. I’d learned enough to answer pretty much every test question correctly every time and felt really confident, but that was on Monday. When I woke up on Tuesday I felt as though chemo-brain had returned. I found it hard to read and almost impossible to concentrate. By Wednesday things were worse and numbers that I had been sure of had started to slip. By Thursday morning the numbers were all over the place. I had to return to my own lane after overtaking a vehicle before I came within how many feet of an oncoming vehicle? How wide does the median have to be before I don’t have to stop when a school bus stops on the other side of the road? Was the answer to the first of these 5′ and the answer to the second 200′ or was it the other way round? Blood alcohol levels were something I’d have liked to experiment with as I couldn’t remember any of the legal percentages and neither could I remember the length of a potential prison sentence, the number of points accrued, whether a licence would be revoked or suspended or what the size of the fine might be. When it came to littering I knew 15 lbs to be a significant number, but not why it was significant. I tell you, things really were that bad! Things got worse when I sat at the computer at the test center and discovered that the previous candidate had failed their test – I knew this because they’d not bothered to press enter and move on to next screen. Thanks mate! Great boost for my morale was that potential omen. Anyway, I answered the questions to the best of my ability, cursing my “chemo-brain” for forgetting some answers that I’d known only a couple of days previously and being amazed that the answers to others popped into my head from nowhere at all. I didn’t get them all correct but, eventually,  a box popped up on the screen telling me that I had passed. Wow!! I was excited, amazed and relieved, and went to ask the relevant officer what happened next. I was told to take a seat and I’d be called in a few minutes. It didn’t take even a few minutes before I was called back to be told that I hadn’t actually finished the test as there were a further twenty questions. I told you I had something akin to chemo-brain. You can possibly guess how red my face was at this point. If you can’t then just think of the color of a STOP light. Anyway I passed the second section as well as the first and eventually took and passed the practical driving test. This very small success had a hugely disproportionate effect on my morale. I knew I still had something like chemo-brain but I suddenly felt not only relieved but more self-confident because after some nine months of chemo battering and recovery I had finally achieved something by myself. After not driving for over a year I was suddenly back behind the wheel of a car and it felt GOOD!

Today I joined a group of students and staff from the school at which my wife works for a sea kayaking session. It was so much fun to be standing waist deep in warm sea water watching other people go through capsize and re-entry drills. A world away from when I first started kayaking in the cold Easter-time waters of a reservoir in the Pennines using closed cockpit white water kayaks. Would I have swapped the experiences – no, not at all but I am really glad that I’ve lived long enough to enjoy both and I plan to continue to do so! So, thanks Laura and company for a really fun session!

The end to pretty much a perfect day was pizza on Hollywood Beach with my wife as the sun set. Thanks Joanne.

Do I have the post-cancer-cure blues now? No, of course not!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cancer, chemo, chemo-brain, chemotherapy, Hodgkins Lymphoma, Kayaking