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In July 2012, at the age of 38, I was given the devastating news that I had advanced ovarian cancer. This is my blog and the story of my fight to regain my health. I hope to share with you things that I've found helpful along my journey and keep you posted on my progress.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Reluctantly Starting Treatment Again

Hi everybody,

I’ve come to another turning point in my story, so I just wanted to give you an update.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my cancer has been growing rapidly again since January and I’ve been considering what my next move should be.  My latest blood test showed that my tumour marker has now risen to 1805 – a long way from the ‘normal’ range of 35 or less, so reluctantly I know I’m going to have to start some form of treatment very soon.

I’ve been looking into all the options and sadly none of them are very appealing, so I wanted to take a few weeks to think things through before committing to something.   Standard treatment for someone in my situation is weekly chemotherapy but only about 30% of people respond to this.  Also, 100% of people suffer from damage to their immune system as a side effect.  As I feel that my immune system is key to any chance I have of beating this awful disease, I want to do all I can to protect it.

So, I’ve also been looking into clinical trials of new drugs to see if there any better alternatives.  There are only two trials that I’m eligible for.  Both are trials of new targeted drugs that help to stop the cancer growing further, without damaging the immune system, but neither would get rid of the cancer and both carry risks of other serious side effects.

Another thing I've been looking into a new surgical technique called Nanoknife, where surgeons electrocute tumours by zapping them with 3000 volts!  This is a really new technique and is only available at one private hospital in the UK.  When I initially enquired about it, the Professor in charge said that I was a suitable candidate for it but my latest scan showed that my disease had progressed and unfortunately they told me that I was no longer eligible.  I was really disappointed as this had seemed like a great option, with no real side effects and good success rates.

I’m also still desperately trying to raise money for other treatments privately and abroad that may help me: high dose intravenous vitamin C, Ayurveda medicine and the sono-photo dynamic therapy in Mexico with herbal infusions.  All of this is still beyond my means at the moment, so I’ve made a decision to go ahead with one of the NHS clinical trials (called ONX 0801) and should be starting treatment on 26th May.

The trial involves me having infusions of the drug once a fortnight.  I’ll have to be at the hospital all day once a week for them to give me the drug and to monitor me and stay overnight initially when the first give me the drug.  I can only have it for a maximum of 6 months, as it can cause lung damage and is not considered safe beyond this (previous tests of the drug at higher doses caused serious lung problems and fatalities). Unfortunately, none of this is very encouraging but I think this is the best option I have right now.  I’ve had a port implanted in my chest, so that they can use it to deliver the drugs and take blood without having to stab me with needles every time!  This was done under general anaesthetic a couple of weeks ago.  It’s still a bit uncomfortable but I’m getting used to it now. And I’ve passed the screening, so I’m all set and ready to go next week.

Meanwhile, as I know that I can only stay on this trial for a maximum of 6 months, I’ve already started researching what to do next!

I’m quite anxious at the moment with everything that’s going on, as there are so many uncertainties – I’m the kind of person who likes to know what is happening all the time and I find it very difficult with cancer and all the treatments, as I don’t have any control over them. Everything is always ‘wait and see’.

One last husband (it’s so strange to call him that but give me a very fulfilling feeling in my heart) has been continuing with his campaigning to encourage the Government to Do More for Cancer.  He has recently had an article published by Huffington Post entitled “The UK Has Cancer - And It’s Spreading Fast, Like...a Cancer!”.  He has also had two replies from a letter he sent to all the main political party leaders – one from Nicola Sturgeon (Leader of the SNP) and one from Prince Charles, who he copied on the letter!  You can read the letters here:

Reply from Nicola Sturgeon (Leader of the SNP)

Reply from Prince Charles

If you haven’t already done so, please help us by signing our petition on to urge the UK Government to Do More for Cancer.

And if you feel you are able to make a donation to my fundraising appeal, I would be very grateful.