Initialły they thought I had myeloma. If there is such a thing that’s something I’ll describe as “nice cancer”. A five year life expectancy historically but there are huge hopes that the latest pill a day treatments will significantly extend this.
Then they scanned my lungs and changed their minds. Definitely lung cancer. Two experts wouldn’t be drawn on prognosis. The internet was pretty consistent with its 6-9 month survival figure. Just 4% reach five years. I made a will and set the ball rolling on making my pension inheritable. And discovered they’ll levy inheritance tax on it if I don’t survive for over two years!
I researched the possibility that I had bone cancer that had spread to the lung and not the other way around. That increased five year life expectancy to 20%. My biopsy dashed those hopes. But I had a particular type of lung cancer prevalent in non-smokers. This invited a pill a day treatment Afatinib. Average life expectancy 32 months. Nearly four gone. Five year life expectancy 14%. Although it’s a treatment that only been around six years so that might change.
At some stage they tell me the Afatinib will stop working. Well that’s what they say. Although who knows? Somewhere close to 14% of users are presumably still taking it five years on. Who’s to say they won’t die of old age before the tumours work out how to beat the drug?
But when they do stop working the NHS now has another option for me. Osimertinib. Well that’s not a certainty. I need another specific gene mutation to qualify. But that buys an average of an extra 11 months. Everything’s an average. And it’s another drug that stops working after a time. But I’ll suffer another biopsy willingly if it means I qualify.
Then there’s Bob Berry. His trial at Manchester’s Christie Hospital sounds like a miracle has taken place. My oncologist tells me that this is a more invasive treatment than my current medication and is a long way off being ready for the NHS. But I suppose if I can hit the average survival rates for the first two treatments this one might be ready for me. Hopefully.
Next, if I’m still alive, comes the assault on bad proteins reported in a dodgy tabloid last week. That seems further away as a reality. But if I can stretch out the other options, who knows?
And after that, good old chemotherapy. Memories of seeing a family friend suffer it for little benefit. There might come a stage where I simply accept the inevitable is close. At the moment I know it’s highly likely. But it doesn’t feel close. Until then, I battle on. And travel on. And try to lead as active a life as possible despite the limitations the illness places on me. It ain’t over until it’s over.