BY WENDY HUGHES

 

I asked my readers to think of us on the 10th September and I can now reveal why and before you read on it is good news.  In June I was diagnosed with liver cancer and our little world was turned upside down. 2018 was to be our special year, our 50th wedding anniversary and my 70th birthday, but fate decided to throw a spanner in the works as it always seems to do when things are going on smoothly for us.

 

As you can imagine this diagnosis came as a huge shock on top of everything else we deal with on a daily basis. Thankfully I have a wonderful supportive husband and family and they were there for me. I live with a genetic condition called Stickler syndrome, have had numerous retinal detachments, replacement surgeries, wear two hearing aids, have diabetes and chronic asthma, and now we had this set back to to deal with. Little wonder I began to think that life is unfair. Ironically after two knee replacements and a hip replacement and a year attending hydrotherapy I am walking well and feel fitter than I have done for four years, so I felt I had turned the corner.

For the last few weeks, in the course of each day I experienced every emotion under the sun and the only way we could handle it was to go out as much as possible, meet friends and enjoy the tranquillity of walking in wooded areas, something that I was enjoying having come from walking on two elbow crutches, to two sticks, then one stick to now walking without any aids.

As usual our dear NHS jumped to our aid and I was referred to King’s College Hospital in London, a hospital world famous for its expertise in dealing with dealing with liver problems. I was told I would have an appointment within 2-4 weeks, but then letters were being sent between Worthing and King’s requesting various CT scans, and although I could appreciate they needed these details it was hard to cope with.  It all it took 6 weeks, but for us it seemed like a lifetime and at one point I even wondered if they were delaying because there was no hope. I was certainly not ready to give up on life yet!

 

Finally, my appointment arrived and we were told that based on the results of the tests they were thinking of two options – well at least they had not given up on me, I thought. As someone that has had ill health all my life and live life to the full within my limitations, I began to see sense at last. They would not be giving me options if there was no hope. The two options I was given was a full liver transplant or an operation where under general anaesthetic keyhole surgery is performed called Radiofrequency ablation (RFA), where a small probe is passed through the wall of the liver, directly into the tumour. The probe is then heated to kill cancer cells and it 85% of cases this is only needed to be done once. I was told much would depend on the state of my liver, the size of the tumour and my general health as to which option they would take.  More tests were taken and then came the wait for my appointment on the 10 September.

 

I had already told myself it would be a full transplant – the only way I could cope with the situation, anything else would be a bonus, and as you know instead of staying at home and worrying we took ourselves off to southern Holland – more about his next week.  We returned home late on Sunday 9 September and I went prepared for the news of a transplant and a long haul to recovery, plus the worry of rejection.  Knowing my body, I have to prepare myself for all eventualities.

However, I was delighted to learn that after careful consideration of all the results, the cancer was small enough and my general health good enough to go ahead with option two. Yesterday I had to have further blood tests and have been told they would like to do the procedure by mid-October at the latest.  I will be in King’s College Hospital for three days and then if things go well will come home to recover and hopefully get our lives back on track again.

Meanwhile I will continue with my walking and hydrotherapy, so that I will be as fit as possible and am already planning things to do as I recover.  There are articles to write, family history to research and a biography on mother to finish.  Well stubborn and determined are my middle names!

If there is anyone out there  who finds themselves in  a similar situation, my best advice is to put your complete trust in our wonderful NHS who have always been there for me, take each day as it comes, get out and meet friends, and most of all enjoy the most precious gift we will ever have, the gift of life.