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3rd February 2013

DEATH ROW (How I became an Inmate)

Well, here we are on Death Row, no timescale, just a vague time slot before the old Grim Reaper comes-a-knocking for me. I think I came to terms with the seriousness of my condition by looking at Helen’s face collapsing in front of me and seeing her scrambling around frantically in her handbag for uplift (facial scaffolding cream) while talking to the consultant.

After my surgical biopsy at Queens Square Euston, we were sent home, being instructed to return to Addenbrooke’s  Hospital, Cambridge for the results. I was fairly confident that they had made a mistake and there was some magical ‘thing’ they could do.

‘Wait here a moment please’ after leading us to a room. Door opens, a new face appears. ‘Come on in please, take a seat,’ no eye contact….. I glanced at Helen, no response. Then from under the desk she pulls out the biggest sledgehammer and asks me to lay it across her desk. She raises it, writes NUT across my temple in one of those markers and… WHACK. Then, quickly, she says  “Results positive- GMB grade 4, only containment, no cure, no surgery. Terminal.

  • Option 1: Do nothing and it’s 4-6 weeks.
  • Option 2: Short intense treatment, radio/ chemo 4-6 months. 3. 9 month chemo/ radiotherapy if you can handle it = up to 12 months.

The recorded survival of a patient from some village in outer Mongolia, where time stops for 6 months of the year, and if you get there and start treatment the right day and time, and eat the mountain goat’s shit, then you may have a chance!”

So we think about the options for 0.5 of a second and opt for the 9 month plan. I was sure Helen was going to say let’s go for the shortest! At the moment she’s had to put up with months in of my erratic behaviour,: losing things, road rage, mood swings, and now…. I’ve only gone and got a walking stick!

We were asked to give them an hour while they made up my treatment plan. “This is going to take more than an hour” I thought when we got back.  We got everything in boxes, medication, notes etc, etc and as we waited by reception the receptionist looked up and said ‘Mr Smith, here you go’ she passed a single sheet of paper.  ‘Good bye, we will see you on your 1st appointment’ pointing to the top of the sheet!

So my initial Death Row is to be spent at home not hospital!

So, off we trotted looking at the treatment plan. It was radiotherapy Monday-Friday, chemotherapy 7 days a week in the form of a tablet taken at home.

First appointment

I had to get a mask fitted, moulded on my face for the radiotherapy. So first I went  into the moulding room, I was placed flat on my back, legs over a  moulded hump for knee support, head in a dip at the back, clamped down  tight, over face- laser beams criss-crossing, and  markers being put on different places. It was so claustrophobic. That finished, I left the room. On the way I glanced at a mirror; Crikey! I thought.  I looked just like Helen after an intensive pick and squeeze session!

After about a week of this, I was getting a little too confident and strolled into the radiotherapy room, kicked my trainers off, hopped onto the bed, put my feet where my head should have been, arched over the knee support and inching my head along backwards. So there I was, balancing like a see-saw. That was the most pain I’ve had since diagnosis.

The nurses suddenly saw what I’d done and shouted ‘Colin what are you doing?!’ I replied ‘Aargh!”  Well, from that moment on there was laughing and giggling from anyone, even the radiographer behind the glass screen was laughing- they had to give me a good half hour to stop!

Well, looking back on this past week there was not much going on except Chelsea continuing to give away goal leads.

I’ll finish now for the week by thanking everyone who has supported us and the charity. We are creeping towards the target. Keep training hard Tony and Dan and thanks for all your behind the scenes work, Kirstin and for pushing everyone on. And finally, well done to Bootsie for passing the careers refresher course.

Coming up this week for charity:

  • Auction off part of my Chelsea memorabilia. All proceeds to Headcase.
  • Black cab collection at Heathrow airport.