Stayin’ Alive

It was a very emotional homecoming yesterday – being able to physically hug Trend and the children and Bonzo was better than I could have imagined.  I didn’t realise until I got home just how hard this last op and particularly the last week has been psychologically.  The op was a partial success – they managed to fully remove the tumour under my stoma that was protruding from my abdomen and they have repaired the abdominal wall with mesh which will take a few months to fully bed down.    The other tumour, however, in my lower left pelvis, could only be partially removed.  Any further removal would have impacted my bladder and bowel and would have had a significant impact on my quality of life/ability to function.  As a result, I still have some of the uncomfortable symptoms that I went in with, and I have a very swollen left leg due to tumours near the lymph nodes.  It’s slowly coming down and I think with physio and gentle exercise it will eventually return to normal.

Despite these things, I’m physically much stronger than I was after the last op.  I haven’t lost any weight and my surgeon continues to be impressed with my ability to heal and to bounce back.  I also haven’t needed as much pain relief as I did with the previous ops. 

Mentally, however, I think I’m a bit traumatised by the whole thing.  It’s hard to explain, but part of it is of course the fact that I’ve been in the hospital for two weeks without Trend by my side every day as with the previous surgeries.  The other part is knowing that this op was a temporary fix and that we have no idea how fast it will grow again – hopefully, we are talking about years, but we just don’t know.  What we do know is that the next round is likely going to be harder, so I do need to build up my health and fitness and mental resilience again.   The cliché of it being a marathon and not a sprint couldn’t be more true in this case, so I’m going to be very disciplined about building in sufficient recovery time to the ‘training plan’.

I’m also conscious that I don’t just write this blog for me but for others who are also going through cancer or other serious illnesses, so I think it’s important to talk about appearances versus reality.  I am a very glass half full person, I go through life convinced that smiling and putting on a brave face will make things better, and I hate being weak or feeling vulnerable.  As a result, I regularly have people say to me that they were surprised to hear I was unwell as I ‘looked great’ or that they assumed that I had been ‘cured’ or am in ‘remission’.  The reality is that this disease is not going away and that no matter how great I may appear on the outside, and no matter how cheerful my disposition, I’m often struggling on the inside – I just hate to show it.

Finally, as I like to end these blogs on a positive note, I want to pay a huge tribute to the wonderful staff at the Hampshire Clinic who have looked after me so well over the past couple of weeks.  I can’t say enough about the surgeons who operated on me so skilfully (they spent 5 hours just untangling my organs before they could start the procedure), the anaesthetist who kept me pain-free, and the others who all worked on the surgery.  However, I am in awe of all of the nursing staff who looked after me 24/7 with such kindness, care and empathy.  They bathed me and washed my hair when I was unable to do it for myself, held my hands when I took my first shaky steps from the bed to the chair, cleaned me up when I was sick, were so very very gentle in removing the tubes and drains and cannulas and also in taking endless amounts of blood, and they made me smile when I was in floods of tears.  It wouldn’t be right to say that I was in hospital all on my own for those two weeks – I wasn’t.  I had a group of amazing people looking after me and I am so very grateful to each and every one of them. 

I Love My Dog – ‘Cat’ Stevens

Difficult day today 3 drains removed from my abdomen, central line taken out, off intravenous feeding and off fentanyl and on to some v light v bland food.


Left leg still v swollen and heavy which is frustrating but should ease over time.  Big binder to wear around my swollen midsection for the next three months is minor in the scheme of things but also frustrating.


Mentally one week in is always a difficult time – v tired and emotional from lack of sleep in the evenings, reduction of pain meds and reality of the uphill recover journey all kick in around the one week mark. On a positive note, however, I had a lovely visit through the window with Trendy and managed to make a number of people laugh as I took ‘Lucky Dog’ for a walk down the corridor this evening.

Who Let The Dogs Out

…well they sure as hell weren’t letting the Bonzo in much to his dismay. However, we both enjoyed our drive to Old Basing to wave and chat with Brenda through an upstairs window. Despite an uncomfortable night, Brenda looked good and one has to take stock and remember that today is still only day five post-op. It has also passed me by to a degree that she has had two large doses of chemo and this will need to percolate out of her. At the moment it manifests itself in taste. She has a dressing that has caused a blister and her swollen left leg is still being closely monitored. All these horrid things, she a trooper.

Following our visit, a physio session left her tired out and sensibly she went back to bed. We’ve spent an afternoon going back and forth in frustration as her cricket team failed to fire (I blame the SID for not somehow engineering that her husband and son are in the line up). Hopefully, her planned simultaneous online film viewing with Madelaine this evening will be an easier watch.

The clinic can be a bit of a wilderness at the weekend and Sunday will be a bit of a hump day. Meanwhile, we look forward to a successful Ocado delivery Brenda having wrested back the control of the ordering. Thank goodness she is still in control.

Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall

I hadn’t counted on it raining when I embarked on this morning’s visit. Nor that my presence in the car park would require an ABP being issued to deal with the strange man hanging around the refuse disposal area. Oh for a simple Hazmat Suit. Despite these tribulations, I got to see and talk to Brenda through the window on the phone for half an hour. I was able to drop off some mail and I left her delighting at the news that our Ocado order had all gone wrong without her overseeing things.

No sooner had I arrived home than I received a message with the attached. Brenda being escorted from ICU to her room on the Ward. This seems to have happened in double-quick time. Although as yet she is still totally plumbed into everything and we are still at the baby steps stage.

Oops!…I did it again

Duff information central here. STOP PRESS Brenda’s stoma has not been moved. Somehow muggins here, picked up this snippet of information. When I first spoke to Brenda yesterday I passed on this information. Fuelled by Fentanyl, this sent Brenda into a vortex of confusion which at one stage had one of the nurses believing her stoma had swapped sides. Anyway, let’s strike this from the record for good and celebrate a bit of Brenda that is still intact.

Today Brenda sounded remarkably like herself and as you can see she is looking as good as anyone with something stuck up their nose can. She has spent five hours sitting up in a La Z Boy type chair which is a new and welcome addition to the ICU. I have ‘Facetimed’ her a couple of times and have, despite a couple of false starts, made an appointment for her to have her haircut on the 29th April as ordered. It seems Brenda has started working through her new ‘to do’ list already.

Otherwise there is little to report. This first stage is pretty much riding the wave of the extraordinary trauma such a big operation causes. I shall pop down to give her a wave through the window tomorrow and let’s keep our fingers crossed that her stay remains as uneventful as possible. Thanks to everyone for their heartfelt good wishes and for all the kind offers of help and menu planning. India is immersed in her IB and Teddy is back from University so we are pretty self contained.

‘Nine to Five’

I’ve just spoken to Brenda’s mother in Canada to relay the following:

The surgery was as difficult as expected and they have removed as much of the tumour as they can. Brenda’s bowel has been untangled and her stoma moved to the other side of her tummy.

The cytoreductive surgery was followed by hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy, hot chemo in layman’s terms, a cocktail of two drugs.

Specimens have been taken for analysis with a view to future Immunotherapy.

She has not lost much blood and will be kept asleep until the morning. It has been a long trying day doing nothing so I cannot imagine the wear and tear on Brendan Moran and his team. My thank you to him seemed rather feeble but, what else do you say?

An indomintable, high stepping Brenda made her way to theatre this morning.

‘Mr Moran’

‘Some people call me when they’re in a jam

Cause I’m the man, I’m Mr. Moran’

Whilst it’s daunting to think about going through this horrific MOAS (Mother Of All Surgeries) op yet again, Trend and I are both pleased that we have a plan and we’re grateful that they are able to fit me in sooner rather than later.  It’s a bit more difficult each time due to the scarring from the previous surgeries and all of the organs sticking together, but I know that I’m in good hands and Mr. Moran and his team will to the best they can to keep me going.

Very apt lines from the song by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.  Those of you who have followed my previous ops will know that I am very fortunate to be under the care of Mr. Moran at the Hampshire Clinic in Basingstoke.  He operated on me (together with a team of surgeons) in January 2017 and again in November 2019 – both very long and difficult surgeries.  And this morning, after meeting with him to go through my latest scans and symptoms, he is ready to open me up again for another big cytoreductive surgery followed by Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC).

Some of you will know that I have seen signs of the disease progressing over the past 6 months, the latest manifestations have been kidney problems and a swollen and sore left leg.  I was gutted to finally take delivery of my new Peloton bike the week before last, only to find that my left leg tired after ten minutes of spinning.  Last week we ended up in A&E one evening and the next morning as there was concern about a blood clot.  We now know that the swollen leg is likely caused by pressure on my lymph node and the kidney problem is caused by pressure on my ureters. I have two very large cystic tumours that are growing – one protruding from my tummy and one internal, as well as a lot of mucin (gel) in my abdomen, which will cause more problems if we do nothing.   

On the plus side, I know what to expect and hopefully, with that experience, how to get through it.  The minus side is that due to Covid, this time I will be in hospital for weeks without any visitors at all.  That will not be easy as I relied on my daily visits from Trend and from seeing a number of friends pop in to brighten my days.  I will have to rely on my life-size cut out of Hillary again, on the friendly familiar faces of the nurses and staff, and on FaceTime calls.

I’m scheduled to go in on Sunday the 14th for surgery on Monday the 15th March, so hopefully by the time I’m home we will be into a sunny spring and I can recover and receive visitors in the garden.

We will keep the blog updated throughout and I will rely on Trend to come up with some more brilliant song titles like ‘Mr. Moran’. 

‘The Moxie’ by The Orphan The Poet


This song was introduced to me by Teddy during his 1 hour slot on Bristol University radio this week, and I’ve been listening to it ever since.  According to the dictionary on the Internet it’s an ‘informal North American expression’ meaning ‘force of character, determination, or nerve’.  That’s what I need at the moment, so ‘The Moxie’ it is.


I have been so busy over the past few weeks with work and my boards and various other things that I’ve been able to push tomorrow’s surgery to the back of my mind.  I’ve been upbeat and positive and full of bravado about my upcoming ‘tummy tuck’.  Last night, however, it all fell away as I was getting ready for bed.  The reality suddenly hit me and I felt scared, worried, and very tearful.  It took me by surprise, but it felt good to let it out.
Happily, waking up to the sunshine this morning, walking the dog with Trendy, and enjoying some of our freshly-baked, mother-daughter homemade sourdough made everything feel a bit better.  More tears were shed throughout the day, but I’m definitely feeling more hopeful than I was last night.

This afternoon, when Hillary and I checked into our VIP suite at the Hampshire Clinic, we were greeted by two old friends from my previous ops, and later I had a quick chat with my anaesthetist followed by a visit from Mr. Moran which kept me busy.  More of my former nurses have popped in to say hello and wish me well this evening, and I’ve been overwhelmed with all of the lovely messages, emails, calls and FaceTimes with friends and family.  I even received a link to a ‘Kudoboard’ with some brilliant silly videos, old photos and lovely messages from friends as well.
I couldn’t feel better supported or more loved going into this op, and I’ve got the A-Team doing the surgery, so I’m in as good a place as I can be.


Thank you to everyone who is following the blog and sending messages of support to me, Trend, Teddy, India and to my Mum as well.  And thank you to everyone who is remembering me in their prayers.  It means a lot to all of us.  I’m now handing over to Trend to keep the blog updated for the next few weeks while I work on my Moxie regeneration.