Friday, 29 February 2008

MRI Results in

The MRI results are in, and things are looking good.
It looks as if the tumour hasn't grown much or not at all.

We were warned it might be difficult to tell because of the side effects from the treatments. For instance Necrosis, Oedema and irritation of live Brain cells all increase the whitening of the material seen around the tumour. In fact it was only in one dimension that you could get a clear view of the tumour and that looked very much like the one from the end of August (about 10-12mm). So NO 46mm tumour, hurrah.

The most significant positive sign, however, was to be seen in the front of the longitudinal fissure between the Brain halves. This gap had opened up indicating that the pressure in the brain had dropped. No MRI pictures available yet, but as soon as I have some I'll put them up.

Carol and the kids had been kidding me about the considerable dent that had appeared in my head along the Biopsy scar (see below). Also when I had the Biopsy I was told I would have a plate put in and that didn't seem to be conducive with this dent. So I asked what was causing this and discovered I have no plate! My skull had been stapled together after the operation and as the bone has regrown it has grown inward instead of flat (-ish). This happens sometimes apparently due to the way the blood supply is disrupted as the bone grows. You can even see this anomaly in the MRI scan, and it looks like I'll have to live with it.

So what happens now?
I carry on with my Chemo (starting cycle 4 tomorrow), and then the hospital tumour board will discuss my case next Wednesday to decide on further treatment. Most likely they will want to continue with the 6 chemo cycles as they are now. Or possibly swap to a 3 week on, one week off cycle for the last 2.

For me I'm going to enjoy the reprieve and look to taking a holiday with Carol for a couple of weeks.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

One of those weeks

Carol and I went to Lucerne on Tuesday just because we hadn't been there for a while and we are very fond of the city. The weather is still sunny but there was a chill in the air. We had lunch right next to the River looking to the Kapplebrücke (Chapel bridge) and under it across the lake towards Rigi.

On Wednesday Carol had the sniffles, but we went to the cinema with friends to see Sweeny Todd (Tim Burton's interpretation of the gory story of the demon barber of Fleet street) anyway. At as the film progressed I started to to feel the onset of a cold too. This is now in full swing. I hope I'm OK for my scan results tomorrow.

Monday, 25 February 2008

I hate the waiting

Had the much waited MRI scan this morning, this is my first scan in 6 months. It's hard to believe that since then I have had Brain Surgery (Biopsie), Radiation treatment and a ton of Chemo therapy. Not to mention the birth of my grandaughter and the renovation of the outside of the house.

And now after spending nearly an hour in a noisy claustophobic doughnut, I have to wait until Friday to find out the results....

Last time time we compared two MRI scans a little under two and a half weeks apart my tumour had grown from 6.5mm to 10mm. So if all that treatment has had no effect, I could be looking at a 46mm tumour by now. Mmm, I don't think I want to think about that.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Keeping Busy

Been keeping busy this week in the home office. It's amazing how quickly work can build up once people know you are available, I'm going to have to ask the doctors to let me do more hours.

The big advantage is keeps my mind of my little problem, and the up and coming MRI next week.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Playlist Update

So what am I listening to at the moment

Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007) + the rest of Radiohead
I love this band

Seasick Steve - Dog House Music (2006)
Real blues from a real hobo. Just a man, his guitar, lots of humour and sad endings.

Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade (2007)
Country rock from an old master. Best album since Copperhead road

Amy Winehouse - Frank (2003)
Yes, I'm sorry every one wants to hate Amy, but this lady has a fine voice and here its even more jazzy than on Back to Black, so you can't

Dead Can Dance - Aion (1990)

Deerhoof - Milk Man (2004)
Some might find them wierd. Alternately thrash and nursery tunes. Love them.

Philip Glass - Symphonies 2 & 3 (1994)
Mister arpeggio shows how much a musical spectrum you can cover even with a severe set of self imposed limitations. Quite a contrast but both equally engaging. These are the two symphonies between the Low & Heroes symphonies inspired by Bowie / Eno's albums ow the same names.

The The - Mind Bomb (1989)
Protest dance music late 80's style. This man (Matt Johnson) was pretty caustic but his lyrics are just as valid now if not more so. "If the real Jesus stood up today, he'd be shot down by the CIA"

New Look

I hated that the look of the blog, especially the big LH margin. I spent a fair time trying to twiddle properties to no avail. Then a new visitor (John, check out his excellent blog at who uses the same host had no margin. Seems that I needed to just choose a new template (Duh). Thanks for the help John, I think this looks a look better.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Wills: Living and Otherwise

I've been putting off a whole load of must do items for some time now so I've decided to to try to sort them all out at once. That way I can stop worrying about unfinished business and get on with taking the rest of my life as it comes.

First was to deal with my (tiny) inheritance by writing a will. On this one I've taken the easy way out and had somebody from the bank write it for me based on my simple instructions. One (pleasent) suprise was to find out that as Carol and I were married under UK law we could deal with inheritance under UK law too. This is much simpler and more flexible than Swiss law which dictates a lot about who gets what before you get your own wishes considered.

Second up was writing a Living Will (Patientenverfügung). This is a document which instructs your Doctors on how you want to be treated when you can no longer communicate with them and to make sure you assign someone to make other decisions on things that you haven't explicitely covered. For instance once I'm in the final stages of my cancer I do not want the doctors to keep me alive artificially but I do want them to help keep the pain down.

Last but not least was writing the funeral arrangments (Anordnungen zur Bestattung) which explains things like coffin types, burned or buried, what you want to wear, the kind of ritual you want etc.

I was lucky enough to get a hint when it was time to do these things, for the rest of you NOW might be a good time. A useful book for people living in Switzerland for all this kind of stuff we found is Beobachter's "So Regeln Sie die letzen Dinge" (How to arrange the last things) which even has templates to fill in for all these documents.

And what am I wearing to my funeral?
You'll have to wait and see, but I guarantee my bum won't be looking big in it.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Chops Away

The weather has been beautiful for the past few days. It has been cool at at around 8 degrees C but the sun has been intense enough to add some more cancers to the existing.

Anyway we thought we'd take the regular brunch off to a restaurant on a little airfield up at 760m (sun even more intense) where we could pig ourselves out while taking in the view and watching the the little planes take off. Very pleasent. (note - no chops were served, but I couldn't think of a better title)

After returning home, Kayleigh asked me to take some Passport photos for Tasija's passport (what else). Do you know kow how hard it is to take a full face picture of a 4 month old with her eyes open and mouth closed without gluing evergthing in place? Thank goodness we don't use film anymore.

But what about the results., more beautiful than the weather and no glue applied.

p.s. I have had one of my regulars says he has started to get a phishing warning for this site. Please let me know anybody else has problems with this (or anything else).

Saturday, 9 February 2008

British Zombie in Zurich

Been a bit of quiet week this week, but to some extent that was planned because it was Chemo cycle 3 and as you all know by know this gives me nausea and tiredness. Anyway I still managed to put a day and a bit at "the office" and started to do some reading up on Insurance risk management (ah, perhaps that was the cause of the nausea and tiredness :-).

Still haven't learned how weak I can get on these days so I went into Zurich to do some shopping with Carol on Wednesday. After an hour or so the other shoppers must of thought we were making "British Zombie in Zurich" with hidden cameras.

Now there is a thought, can anyone think of one movie that seriously features Zurich? There must be dozens where somebody calls Zurich to check a bank account but that's hardly a feature and even then there are probably as many "phone calls" to Geneva even though all the banks are in Zurich! Anybody out there who can show me I'm wrong? Otherwise Hollywood now is you chance "British Zombie" has a star and is just waiting to happen.....

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Snow & Chemo 3

Woke up to about 8cm of snow on the ground this morning and the start of my 3rd Chemo cycle and a week of feeling yucky.

Had the grandchildren over this morning for some sledging and snowballing on the hill behind the house and then back to the house for hot chocolate and sausage rolls . Think I'll light a fire.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Just the Shoes

Over the last couple of weeks I'd started to get a bit worried by my instability when exercising on the treadmill. I had started to fall sideways to the right. Today I looked at the bottom of my shoe. Duh!

Tumour Treating Fields

Visit to Universitätsspital Zürich today to talk to a lady (Dr Magneto) about the Tumour Treating Fields (TTF) trial I mentioned back in November. I didn't learn too much more about the treatment except to find out that the "device" is more a rucksack than a handbag. The trial started in early 2006 and they have about half the participants they want so far, so there is a fair chance I will be in recurance before they finish!

An interesting little fact is that because the device is not a drug its not subject to the same complex regulations, so once the trial is finished (assuming statistically significant success) it will be available on the market almost immediately. Not that the my insurer will necessarily pay for it.

One interesting little point that Ms. Magneto mentioned in passing is that Universitätspital's current therapy for recurring GBM's is combined Avastin and CPT-11. This is a very interesting combination of an angiogenisis inhibitor (stops blood vessels from getting to the tumour) and a topoisomerase 1 inhibitor (normal tumour bashing chemotherapy). I need to read up on this a bit more.

Dr. Magneto had taken a look at the Histology from my Biopsy and she commented on the inconclusive results and offered me a second opinion from their labs. I, of course, took it.... more later.