Today’s Times reports a hospital in Oxford is considering reducing chemotherapy sessions for the terminally ill, citing a shortage of specialist nursing staff.
This struck me rather hard because, unless a clinical trial salvages my life, once the osimertinib fails me chemotherapy is my last life extending treatment available.
But while it raises an emotive question for me, I was already in a place where I am considering refusing chemotherapy as and when it’s offered. There’s a 49% chance of significant side effects in stage four lung cancer treatment, so the quality of any extended life might not be particularly good. And let’s face it, I’m a goner anyway sooner or later.
Indeed, I’ve said previously that my main aim in accepting good old chemo is to keep me alive past April 2019. That way a fairly unpleasant tax on my pension changes can be avoided and my untimely demise can at least give the kids a decent leg up in life – something that has been my main priority since diagnosis.
Would I be happy to be on the receiving end of less chemo? Not if it meant dying before April 2019. But ignoring those financial plans, and accepting that my industry, banking, is in a big way to blame for increased national debt and the ongoing deficit, it’s fairly logical for hospital management to look at a dead man walking and prioritise treatment for those who have a chance of a lasting remission ahead of me.
And let’s face it, the costs of the more effective treatments that have kept me alive this long are eye watering. And while I’m still capable of a fairly decent quality of life I hope to carry on being a drain on the NHS for as long as possible.
I haven’t made any decisions on chemotherapy for me yet. I’m not in Oxford, so the Times headline might not be relevant anyway. That April 2019 IHT deadline might well play a big part in my decision making. As might a simple assessment of the form of Oldham Athletic. If they’re playing well and I can get to games my veins might be open to as much chemo as possible!
For now, osimertinib is my real hope in deferring those questions.