Well good news at long last on the medical front after a month’s delay.

You may recall that I attended the Hæmatology & Oncology Unit of Bristol Hospital a month ago expecting to be admitted for 10 days worth of isolation and radio-iodine treatment, only to be turned away because I have too much of my thyroid gland left behind after the mid-December surgery to remove a tumour. Evidently the thyroid attracts the active ingredient in the radioiodine treatment making it less effective on the carcinogenic cells at which it is aimed.

Since then I have surgery on my scapular, removing some of the bone there and the attached carcinomas. I have also had “radio-frequency ablation” on the cancerous cells on my ribs – where a catheter was inserted in my side and on to the tumour where heat treatment literally “cooks” the unwanted cells. Since when we’ve been waiting for further thyroid treatment/surgery. Well obviously there has been a hold-up in the system and a communication problem between the different clinicians. I wrote to a couple of the consultants last week to ask what was going on and the pertinent question, “Who has overall responsibility for the range of treatments that I am having to undergo?”

Subsequent my letters I have heard that there was to be a case conference on me on Tuesday of this week. Yesterday (Wednesday) I had two consultants telephone me, agreeing that there had been glitch in the system but this had been resolved at the meeting. The oncologist is keen that as much of the thyroid as possible should go in order to give the radioiodine maximum effect. The ENT doctor agrees but foresees possible problems in removing any more of the gland because of the effect the (now removed) tumour had. Evidently the gland became “impacted” which might make further surgical removal problematical. However, he has agreed to open up my throat to see the lie of the land, as-it-were, and will attempt to remove as much as he possibly can. At best he will be able to remove all or most of it, or worst he will open me up and then close again with nothing being taken away. It’s literally a case of seeing what can be done when he gets there. But, having said that, he was quietly optimistic that he will be able to achieve enough to justify the radiotherapy – which should follow within a week or two.

I pointed out to the surgeon during our ‘phone call yesterday, that apart from wanting to make as good a recovery as possible from the cancer, my next priority was to safeguard as much of my voice as possible. Since the fist operation involved the sacrifice of the nerve that serves the left hand part of my larynx, my voice has suffered and I sound rather like a sexy Clint Eastwood I think (!) It’s actually getting better and stronger day-by-day, but obviously I want to avoid any further damage to what’s left. I’m glad to say that the surgeon was fairly reassuring on that one.

I have just heard (Thursday afternoon) that I am to be admitted to the ENT ward at Southmead Hospital on Wednesday next 4th March, for surgery the following morning.

So good news. We’re backing the programme. A schedule is drawn up, a timetable set and – please God – the end is in sight. I had initially, optimistically, hoped to be back at work in early March. Well, it’s going to be Easter time now – but at least that is now an achievable goal and something to confidentially build towards. My thanks to Combat Stress (see links) once again for their goodness in keeping me on!

Meanwhile four-day old Teddy is doing extremely well. Peta is making a good comeback; Bertie loves his little brother and Fiona is revelling in being with her beloved daughter and adored grandsons – the boys!