After waiting for three hours for blood results that usually take 30 minutes, we ended up back in the pack today rather than being one of the first. This made for a long day: 8 am start and just got home at 5.30 pm. But it's over - at least the chemo part (3 more days of radiotherapy). I've really enjoyed getting to know some of the nurses and their quirky sense of humour. Don't think I've overcome my needle squeamishness, even after so many (I lost count weeks ago).
Our oncologist was again positive today. Once all treatment is over, we'll wait a month and then I have a neck-to-toe CT scan. He said he would be surprised and disappointed if the news is bad, but since he's still unsure of the cause and nature of the growth, there are certainly no guarantees. After the CT scan, we wait another month and I have a PET scan to confirm there is no unusual growth activity (God willing). If that is also clear, then I'll keep having checks every 3-6 months for a few years before the all clear is given. If the growth is still active in a month or two, then the question of surgery will again be asked (which depends on how much it might have shrunk and in which directions. When I first presented, surgery was ruled out because the growth was inside my left bronchial tube and too close to my oesophagus and aorta). If the news is very bad (new growths), then that is a whole new ball game, probably involving a shift from curative to palliative treatment, but he said he'd be very surprised were that to be the case. We continue to trust God for the outcome, whatever it may be, though are very thankful for the positive indications we've been receiving so far.
As for side-effects, the radiotherapy has certainly overtaken the chemotherapy. The main issues now are still tiredness, but also swallowing and reflux. In particular, I am basically now on a fluid diet: soup and tasty dietary supplement drinks. Occasionally, I put in the effort to have something very soft, but it is quite painful, even using an oral anaesthetic (Xylocaine) that I gargle before some meals. The reflux is more a constant dull feeling of burning as the lower end of my oesophagus, weakened by the radiotherapy, fails to keep back the acids from my stomach. I take antiacids to reduce the effect, but it's particularly annoying at night and I still sleep propped up in bed (and with our bed propped up on some bricks) to get what help I can from gravity.
My second sermon on Sunday (on the two natures of Christ in the Apostles' Creed) was enjoyable to write, though due to tiredness, I ran out of time to cut it back as much as I would have liked. It can be downloaded here (or it will there soon, depends on the volunteer who manages the website). Here is a taste. Last night, we also started a new Bible study for 20s/30s and got off to a solid start.