As arranged, I went to the hospital for the biopsy on my “mystery” tumour bright and early on Tuesday morning and was as ready as anyone can be to have a needle stuck in their back.
In the end I was told it was too dangerous to do the biopsy. There were a few reasons, starting with the tumour being too deep at around 18 to 20cm in but, added to that, it’s too close to arteries that feed the spine and my aortic artery, too. The consultant who was going to be doing it, who had a sense of humour and who I thought was really nice, explained that one wrong move on his part and I’d end up either dead or paralysed. I wouldn’t have been prepared to take the risk even if he had been.
I haven’t been left hanging around though. The following morning I got a call to go for a CT Planning Scan in preparation for radiotherapy to have the tumour zapped – it being inaccessible doesn’t make it impossible to zap the tumour and that’s what is going to happen. I guess if it is prostate cancer that my existing treatments will cover it after it’s been zapped and, if it’s a different type of cancer, another tumour will soon pop up somewhere else which, hopefully, will be more accessible and easier to get a biopsy from. The main consideration for me right now is to get the thing shrunk so that I get some relief from the pain and zapping it should achieve that, although it might take a few weeks before I feel the benefit.
The CT Planning Scan was done successfully but it was not straightforward. I’ve had loads of radiotherapy in the past, 47 sessions in total, and several MRIs, all without a hitch. They don’t faze me at all, but yesterday the two radiographers had just got me lined up in the CT Scanner and were about to give me three new tattoo markers (you have them for radiotherapy so they can get you in the same position every time) when I suddenly had the sensation of not being able to breath or swallow. I started to panic. They got me sat up and gave me some water and then had to start again.
Looking back I don’t know if it was a full blown panic attack, but I think it must have been fairly close to one. If it was, it’s my first one ever. Possibly the events of the last couple of weeks all came crashing together in my head, I don’t know. I felt tearful afterwards but I wondered at the time if that wasn’t “just” the hormone therapy, a side effect of which is to make men as prone to suddenly crying as women can be. That’s actually one of a long list of side effects. I wish I could have bawled my eyes out but that didn’t happen.
My oncologist called me this morning to say my first radiotherapy session is tomorrow. I’ll be having five sessions I think. She is so good, she knows I’m in a lot of pain and really doesn’t hang around. I feel very lucky to have her.
There’s a bit of a problem cropped up though. I hope it doesn’t stop the radiotherapy from going ahead as planned. Last night just before going to bed I pee’ed some blood. I thought it was a one off but it turns out it’s not. For the last couple of hours I’ve pee’ed blood every time I’ve been, and I’m peeing a helluva lot. My Macmillan Nurse has advised me to drink plenty to flush any infection through and to stop myself from going into retention – that’s when you want to pee, you need to pee, but you just cannot go. That happened to me just over 5 years ago and I was screaming with the pain, which wasn’t helped by the doctors being unable to ram the catheter in past my gigantically swollen prostate.
I’m seeing a GP this afternoon to have a dip test done. With luck it will be a minor urine infection that’s causing the blood and will be easily treatable with antibiotics. I hope it’s nothing more and not anything that will stop the zapping from happening.
What a bloody week this has been in every sense of the word.