To say it has been a big week would be an understatement. In 2014 I was diagnosed with a malignant Grade 3 brain tumour, and treated it with surgery and radiotherapy. In 2015 my brain cancer came back, and I was put on chemotherapy for what was meant to be 6-12 months. And now in 2016, 11 months later, my brain cancer has decided to either grow back while I am undertaking chemo, or more cancer has decided to grow. Either way, it is not what I want or need.
My cognitive symptoms and numbness on the right hand side of my body had been worsening for the last few weeks. The worry got to the point where I couldn’t wait for my scheduled scan at the end of April and my nurse, Marina, brought me in to the Royal North Shore Hospital a week early to have the contrast-MRI scans. I was able to get my scans in the morning, and see my oncologist, Dr Mustafa Khasraw, in the afternoon. A Thursday afternoon.
I walked into Dr Khasraw’s office and could see an image of my brain on the screen instantly. It was clear that there was change. A lot of change. A large growth. In the space of less than three months my brain tumour had come back from being dormant to waking up and growing with an aggressive growth rate! Unbelievable. We decided the plan is to try an awake craniotomy again, another awake brain operation. Followed up by the possibility of further radiotherapy and then more chemotherapy.
Unfortunately it’s not just as easy as just going back for more surgery, radio and chemo. More brain surgery may not provide the rewards over risk that I desired, with the possibility of leaving me disabled or a vegetable. 6 weeks of radio, which I endured two years ago, is what is recommended for a cancer patient. So having more will also be difficult and dangerous. I was nearing the end of my one-year of chemotherapy (temozolomide) when my tumour came back. I can only hope than the next type of chemo I am administered is more effective at keeping the tumour dormant.
The next day, Friday afternoon, I met with a neurosurgeon. This surgeon is well regarded in Sydney, and across Australia. Currently I have a date for my brain surgery, 9th May 2016, in Sydney.
For now, this is where I am at. To think about the outcome and the whole situation is a daunting thought. But I must break it down, to focus on what I can control in the process of getting surgery and starting the healing process, ongoing treatment, eating well, light exercise and being healthy. This is where I feel I can push through this hurdle. Much easier said than done, but I need to start somewhere!
It has been a testing week and I am so proud of my family, my close friends and my girlfriend Larissa for how strong they have been! I am currently looking at further options and will keep this blog updated with what is going on.
Keep enjoying life