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As soon as Andi was diagnosed he maintained a "blog" allowing friends and family to keep up to date with his progress at battling cancer. We've put a copy of his blog on the website, including comments made by others.
Day 1 - 5, or so, it's happened that quickly.
Well, what can I write? Having had the biggest shock of my life and been diagnosed with cancer in my Oesophagus, I now have a battle on my hands.....I've decided to keep a blog of what I'm doing, where we're both at and the latest news in the battle as I kick its arse, I am told that I'm a determined person, some might say stubbon, but either way, my mind is set and I'm going to beat this.
It started with difficulty swallowing, that was then followed by me being stubbon and telling my GP to refer me to a specialist as I had insurance and I was going to use it! Then, in a matter of days, it was seen, diagnosed and we now have had a very good day with the surgeon and the doctors.
I have a lump just above my stomach in my food pipe, and it looks as though it's contained and has not spread. We now have a plan....the surgeon has said that I have already beaten most of the odds already, by seeing him, most of these don't get caught! so, the fight is on.
We are seeing the Oncologist on Wednesday and the current thinking is about 6 weeks of Chemo, then 4 - 6 weeks recovery, then the major surgery, removing a large part of my stomach and Oesophagus, then recovery, about 6 weeks, then back into Chemo.
I've decided that it's impossible to keep trying to talk to everyone, so, in true stubbon and determined style, I will be completing this blog when I can update you all, or Wendy will be writing something instead. A huge thanks to James for setting it up - must have read my mind. I will try and post some pictures on the main website somewhere.
To date, we have been totally overwhelmed with the support that everyone we know has been showing us and offering us, thanks so much to you all, we love you loads, all of you. What's really important is that we know you're there if we need you. In a year's time, we'll all look back on this and laugh into our beers.
Be in touch with you all soon.
Andi and Wendy
Just a small comment from us over here in Blighty. Everyone over here knows you're on top of this situation, and that we look forward to laughing in to the beers with you sometime soon.
Hang in there!
Just want to wish Andi and wendy all the best.I came across your website today.I am supporting my best friend who has advanced ovarian cancer and your blog has helped me enormously in helping my friend.Stay positive give positive comments etc.it all helps.
My best wishes go to you both
Having my 1st attempt at this blogging thing! Andi has said most of it in his 1st post but we're gonna beat this and if the amount of support is anything to go by, we'll have no problems! We have been totally blown away by the support from everyone - we didn't realise how many people we knew in NZ and also how much they all care! Everyone has been awesome and we do feel totally supported over here.
Obviously, we're still shell shocked - it still feels surreal and as if we're talking about someone else but having had the appointment with the surgeon yesterday, we both do feel more positive. He basically said to Andi "Right you're only 37 and you have the rest of your life to go yet, so we're gonna get this sorted" so that was pretty reassuring!
The surgery is MAJOR, major but hey, if that's what's needed, then that's what we will deal with.
Oh and in answer to lots of peoples queries (no, we don't mind you asking!) we are going along to make a deposit at a slightly different bank on Monday (so that if we decide we want little Andis/Wendys later on, we'll still have that option!)
Please keep all the e-mails, phone-calls & texts coming - we've now got an answer phone, so you can always leave a message (just don't forget we're 11 hours ahead of the UK)
Thanks so much for all your support - we love you all. We'll keep you posted......Bye for now
Well, I should have been sitting in Mauritius now, having spent yesterday doing a days re-breather training in the Indian Ocean, guess it just wasn't meant to be?
Today we're off to the Cancer society in the city, to have our first counseling session and work out a strategy, and to find out what else they offer, such as meditation etc to help avoid panic attacks, and a library to find out what you should and shouldn't be eating - but I'm sat here drinking my Pomegranate juice as I type, I'm aiming to be one big antioxidant by the end of the week, full of Pomegranate, Blueberries and Broccoli!
Well, we've been into the Auckland Cancer Society today and seen a counsellor who was v.helpful. She said we need to try to break things down and focus on the positives, eg. the positive news we had from the surgeon etc. She also explained that we're likely to feel "in limbo" until the actual treatment starts and that that is normal. They have a fantastic centre with lots of resources - we've been given some books & leaflets and Andi has signed up for their next relaxation & meditation courses which start on 18 May. We also chatted to a nurse there who gave us advice about how to make eating easier (lots of soft, moist food) and not stopping going out to eat but getting a copy of the menu 1st so we can check what Andi can easily eat. The Cancer Society have also referred us to a Cancer nurse who is coming to our house tomorrow to meet us and she will call in regularly to see us during Andi's treatment. So all very helpful and positive.
We've done a photo board for Andi - full of lots of photos of 'Action man' kayaking, snowboarding, flying, diving - so he can focus on what he'll be getting upto again, once this is over.
We are feeling incredibly supported and don't worry, we will be taking you all up on your offers of help - we know we can't do this on our own but we CAN DO IT with your support!
Hiya Wendy, we haven't had the pleasure of meeting, however I work for your husband who's probably reading this with you I broke my leg quite serverely trying to go see Staind (Go Aaron Lewis)last year while they were here, and have lots of pain from the break. One of the methods they offered me other than drugs which I am highly against, was meditation and relaxation techniques. I'm already pretty good at most of it because I've been a diabetic since I was three and have had some really yukie stuff done to this body of mine over the years, but I will tell you the meditation really does work. It works well enough for me if I can allow myself to totally sink into it and relax, that I can go pain free for about 8 hours after a session. It's amazing what the brain has control of.
Andi, I firmly believe that the reason you are a pilot/scuba diver/exceptional manager/etc. is because you told yourself you could be those things. You knew the goal, you knew what you wanted and what it took to get it and you decided in your mind what the only acceptable outcome could be for you in your world. This little hurdle which might seem big right now, is no different. I know I've only known you a short time, but you never struck me as a weakling. I admire your ability to take control and make what you want to see happen, happen. You will overcome this, and know that obviously from what I am reading, you have made a ton of real friends along your way to here. Please count me as one!
Hugs and healing power sent to you and Wendy along with lots of prayer!
Today is a week on from when we first knew we were dealing with a cancer, at that point though, we had no idea of its size or the extent that it might have spread through me. That was the lowest point of my life - people say "you never know, you might get hit by a bus tomorrow" well, this is my "bus" not a great big red, double decker London bus, but a small, invisible and certainly more deadly stealth "bus"!
We have just had a good session with the Oncology Nurse from the Cancer Society, she has talked through the likely options that the Oncologist will use and some of the side effects and highs and lows etc, as far as I'm concerned, I know this is going to be a hard journey, but nothing can be as low as last Tuesday, so it's just that, a journey, and it's all part of dealing with and beating it. As Lance Armstrong said, every time you go to the toilet, every time you're sick, every time you give blood samples etc., it's just more bad cells leaving your body and making room for more good cells to flourish.
It's been great talking to you all, and the visits are fab, just don't turn up in a red bus please?
PS. There will soon be a facility for people to post comments here after reading the stuff we write, please use it or the link to my email, all stuff I can do whilst sitting down, everyone knows how hard that will be for me....The posts will be vetted before they are added, just to keep those Viagra sales posts etc all away.
Hi Andi, Hi Wendy
Just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking about you and like everyone else, if there is ever anything we can do (eg collecting people from the airport) just let us know.
Andi, if ever I've known someone great at taking on challenges it's you.
Lots of love to you both xx
Had a really good meeting with the Oncologist today, again, he was very positive about my age and fitness being on my side, and the fact that we had an early diagnosis, and he has described all the treatments and timescales in more detail.
In short, I start Chemo next Wednesday, May 2nd, at Mercy hospital in Epsom, Auckland that is, not Surrey. My hair will fall out and will resemble a pin cushion after a while, but it's all in a good cause. We are also paying for it ourselves as we really don't want to waste time waiting at all, and the availability of drugs is also different, so, if any of you visit, bring your own tea as we'll be skint!
I will have three pre op sessions, 3 weeks apart each, on a Wednesday morning. 6 hours or so of IV treatment with two medicines and daily tablet form for the third medicine. Then a recovery period of about 4 weeks after the third session and then the Operation, following post Op recovery, I will have another three sessions of Chemo again, these are likely to be in Auckland hospital in the city - so you all know where you can visit me?
Having had all these conversations and now knowing when I start the cocktail treatment, it is all hitting home how real all this is, and how glad I am that I have always tried to "sieze the day - Carpe Diem" and not put things on hold, I will do all these things again, but the prognosis might have been different, don't ever put those things on hold if you have the chance to do something, and never regret anything! We'll stay strong, with all your help and support.
OK. It's time for other members of the family to start adding their support to this blog. Andrew is taking inspiration from the survival success of Lance Armstrong. There is masses of stuff on the web about him and the foundation he now heads in the USA. I thought it might be worth echoing here the manifesto of his Foundation as it gives us all food for thought. The key message is for us all to now talk about Andrew as a cancer survivor and not as a victim! Keep your messages of support coming.
|The Manifesto of the Lance Armstrong Foundation
We believe in life.
We believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being.
And that you must not let cancer take control of it.
We believe in energy: channeled and fierce.
We believe in focus: getting smart and living strong.
Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything.
This is the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
We kick in the moment you're diagnosed.
We help you accept the tears. Acknowledge the rage.
We believe in your right to live without pain.
We believe in information. Not pity.
And in straight, open talk about cancer.
With husbands, wives and partners. With kids, friends and neighbors. And the people you live with, work with, cry and laugh with.
This is no time to pull punches.
You're in the fight of your life.
We're about the hard stuff.
Like finding the nerve to ask for a second opinion.
And a third, or a fourth, if that's what it takes.
We're about getting smart about clinical trials.
And if it comes to it, being in control of how your life ends.
It's your life. You will have it your way.
We're about the practical stuff.
Planning for surviving. Banking your sperm. Preserving your fertility. Organizing your finances. Dealing with hospitals, specialists, insurance companies and employers.
It's knowing your rights.
It's your life.
Take no prisoners.
We're about the fight.
We're your champion on Capitol Hill. Your advocate with the healthcare system. Your sponsor in the research labs.
And we know the fight never ends.
Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life.
This is the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Founded and inspired by one of the toughest cancer survivors on the planet.
Hey guys, thanks for the update. Well this sure is an Anzac day you won't forget in a hurry. Good to hear you know when and where everything kicks off, now you have something to focus on. Wendy good luck with keeping Andi occupied for 6 hours, errrrmmm Soduku? If that's how you spell it. Or can you take in a laptop and play movies or will that interfere with the equipment? Thinking of you both very much, lots of love and mental hugs. Kirsty xxxxx
We were shocked to hear your news but from your blog I can see that you and Wendy are being really positive.
There is not a lot we can do from so far away but you know you are constantly in our thoughts.
...so have you banked any sperm yet? Waiting to hear some more details about that!
As Andi has said, we had a meeting with our oncologist today (now there's a sentence, I never thought I'd say...) and although it is now seeming more real & terrifying, at least we have a plan! As you know, I do like plans!! My brother put it quite well yesterday whilst I was speaking to him - he said - "well, it doesn't really stand a chance does it, with you organising it out of existence"!!
So the action kicks off next Wednesday - my challenge is to keep Andi occupied whilst he has to lie on a bed for 6 hours - hmmm, should be interesting! Then we have to wait & see what side effects Andi has - these are carefully monitored and any adjustments will be made before the next cycle of treatment.
We really do appreciate all your e-mails, phonecalls & texts, so please keep them coming. Don't worry, about bothering us - if we don't want to talk we'll let the answer phone pick up....Also please do check this blog regularly, as its the easiest way for us to let you all know how we're going.
Thanks soooooo much for all your love & support - keep those positive vibes heading our way.
So pleased that you now have a plan as you alwys do seem calmer when you are organised!!! Think Rob's comments are class!! Am having trouble typing as my fingers are permanently crossed.
You both write so positively - such an inspiration as you really do have no idea how something like this will hit you. Your positivity will definitely help you during the "darker" days and inspire us lot out here to do as you have done as actually achieve those things that we keep putting off. (must get my belly button pierced!!! :) )
I am sure others reading your blog will agree with me that news like yours has a fantastic power to those who are hearing it to get them to challenge thier lives and where they are heading. As humans we tend to sail through life thinking "it wont happen to me" and "I'll do that tomorrow" then someone you know and love has it happen to them and your thinking changes.
The process sounds very daunting but you are both so strong for each other that you will get through it. Will keep everything crossed for the coming months and I am sure you know how loved you are out here.
Lilli, you're 100% right about this news having alot of power. Alot of my thought processes have changed about my own world since this news.
I remember being told as a kid at age 5, I would die of diabetes before I was 30 and be legless by the time I was 25. I refused to believe that and still do! I am 36 now, and yes I've had a hell of a beating with this disease I battle, but I am still alive and have quality of life. To me, if you can still look around and say honestly to yourself, "I still look forward to waking up every day because of "This or That"," then there is quality of life. Though I do prefere the sleeping in days of the weekend, I still have the dreams of being more than I am today that keep me going. I know I have the talent, strength, ability, and intellect to accomplish my goals, so there is no reason not to succeed in beating whatever tries to stop me. So far, So good!
"It's not what you learn, It's what you know inside that counts!"
Feeling better I hope? Just a quick word to say we all miss your face here at work.
We know you will beat this thing and be back to work alongside us again.
I had a heart attack when I was 35 yrs old and had open heart surgery at Greenlane hospital here in Auckland.
I thought that was it. This is where my life ends but I bounced back and I spend a lot of time thanking the lord for making me stay here on earth. I try to pay back the debt by helping others not as fortunate as myself or as fortunate as my family and friends.
I have made lots of friends, young and old and treasure each and every one of them.
I work with the young because one day they are the ones who I hope will take over from me and you.
So friend, get well and while you are doing just that, know we are behind you one hundred percent.
To your family, take care of him, be with him and behind him all the way.
Take care mate.
I know, 2 posts in one evening! Just wanted to say its been great to get e-mails from you letting us know your news & especially sending us photos - we need to feel connected to reality (as all this is somewhat unreal at the mo!) so please do keep these coming - it does help to read about 'normal', day to day, cheerful stuff and its great to see your photos, so please keep them coming!
Goodnight, Bye for now
Hey Guy's, Kirsty and I have been reading all your Blogs and comments, it's a real testament of how lovely you both are that in such a short space of time you have made so may good friends.
We are still shell shocked at the news, but I know Andi, and if he puts his mind to anything, he'll do it. Now go forth and kick it's ass.
Love (not in a shirt lifting type way Bro) JJ
Great idea to have a website and this blog. This way you don't have to repeat to everyone what you are going through.
Now about real stuff: you'll beat this, you'll be winners and a bottle of Belarussian vodka is waiting...
Are you allowed to watch movies when in hospital? Comedies?
We'll be in touch
Well, I have been sitting here reading your blog, and I must admit that I am totally blown away by this news.
I have not had the privilege of meeting your partner but by the sounds of things you are in very capable hands. As for you, I know that you will not take this lying down and the sheer determination with which you approach everything in life will see you though this.
I have a light hearted motto......Pain heals, Chicks dig scars and Glory lasts forever....(stole it from a movie)
Well....I have said enough.....If there is anything that I can do to help, feed pets, do grocery shopping, please do not hesitate to ask....
All my love through these trying times...
Well, we have spent most of the day trying to get yet more blood samples taken, and a base line ECG done, can't be done today as Lab Plus are on strike - it happens everywhere! so we have to go back tomorrow. We also opened our other bank account!
We have been struggling to get into a routine this past week, but next Wednesday I'm sure things will change when I have to sit still for 6 hours, that's when it will really become real. We have also been talking to the liaison nurse from the Cancer Society regarding the treatment etc and what to expect from side effects, how long to recover etc, it seems it's very individual and people will react very differently to each other. I may be sick and out of it for days or I may feel like walking home by myself. Bring on the treatment, beat the intruder.
The afternoon shift crew send their best wishes, and hoping for a speedy recovery.
Hi Andi - Have fun seeing the Bank Manager!!
Hey Wendy and Andi,
I am living out my quote fetish at this stage!!
When I hear somebody sigh that Life is hard, I am always tempted to ask, Compared to what?
Good to see you guys are so positive.
If you need any help, just shout!!
Mate, I fully expect you to cycle home...then go off diving for the weekend. Go hard, kick the intruder's ass!
I suspect that this may be the first time in your life that you will actually have to sit still for six hours without an escape route ie: A diving mask, kayak or helicopter.
An EAR BASHING from your dear wife (Wendy) may be just the extra medicine you need.
There are no intruders, just enemies.... I'll have AirForce One Chopper ready for your flight Captain.
Good to see you've managed to find some sensible friends down there. Just the sort of chaps you need in a tight spot, Ginger! Although Conni has me worried but then, what the hell, it is the 21st century after all but intersted to know why people down there travel on donkeys?
Being still for 6 hrs is perfect practise for those incredibly boring deco stops we are gonna be doing. Your gonna have to come up with something to keep us entertained underwater.
The last weekend before the treatment starts....We are both trying to get some rest and enjoy a lie in, 0700 for me is a lie in anyway! Wendy can sleep 'till midday, we'll see.
It's been a full on week, getting everything sorted out ready for next weeks treatment to start, researching all the drugs and all the side effects! managed to get all my bloods and ECG done in the end yesterday, the strike finished at midnight on Thursday, a delay in some of the bloods would have meant a delay in treatmenat as the Oncologist needs "markers" to determine the dose. Can you imagine what a wreck I would have been if I had had to wait another week?
It's absolutely awesome reading all your comments, and they mean so much to me, friends back in the UK, friends here in NZ, friends I work with, friends Wendy works with, your comments really make all the "blogging" worth while, please keep them coming. We have both been genuinely deeply touched with your comments and your offers of help, although we can't always answer each one indivisually, rest assured we read them all and we take them all in the way they were meant, and we draw strength from them. Seems that so many of you have this image of me as determined and stubborn, no idea where that comes from!
The next time you see me, I may be thinner, I may have less hair, I may look different, but I'll still be me, I'll still enjoy strong, black coffee (if I'm allowed it?) and I'll still be as determined as ever to get through this and grow as a person through the journey. If you next see me in the Tip Top Cafe, the only difference will be that I'll be bringing in my own coffee - if I'm fighting this, I'm not going to put up with bad coffee! I will be trying to comtinue with as much normality as possible, still talking to people, seeing people, calling into work for a drink and a catch up etc, I think that it's important to maintain that contact where possible, it also makes the integration afterwards easier. I know there will be good days and bad days - if it's a bad day, I may need someone to go and get that good coffee for me.
Love and thanks to you all.
Hey Andi & Wendy, pleased to hear all is still on track for next week when kick off begins. I was in a bookshop today looking at a book called Life, Happiness and Cancer by Phil Kerslake (which I've bought for you). Have you heard of him? It looks like a really interesting read. He is Welsh born (we won't hold that against him) and was raised in Australia (or that!). He is a six time cancer survivor and talks about beating it with 'Action and Attitude' (thought that sounded like you). Doesn't mention coffee from what I can see though. He talks about developing your own complementary programme to support your hospital treatments, "including the benefits of expressive writing, listening to music, meditation, support groups and
visualisation. At various times, he has taken high doses of vitamins, copious juices for
detoxification, and had the amalgam fillings in his teeth replaced with composite ones" (Otago Daily times Nov '06). He is now a motivational speaker, Life and Career Coach - see his website www.lifepaths.co.nz and has a regular spot on Good Morning - and he lives in Wellington - so he must be pretty cool!
Might post it to you - depending on whether I will have time to see you when in AKL next week. Still waiting for confirmation of my flight times.
Take care hon, thinking of you both.
Sorry guys - just read that - the comment 'depending on whether I have time to see you' sounds awful. Flight times are out of my hands, so hopefully I will be booked on an early enough one (Tue 8th) and they won't have me flying out first thing in the morning (Wed 9th).....xxxx
Well, we're about to start week 2 but hey, this is only gonna be a chapter in our lives....Had a fairly quiet weekend - went to see the movie 'The Flying Scotsman' yesterday (about Graeme O'Bree who was the Cycling World hour record holder in 1993 - on his home-made bike, made out of washing machine parts!) Very inspirational!
Still can't really believe this is happening to us - however, can't waste our energy on raging about the unfairness of it (although that is how we feel) or on trying to find out the answer to 'why us?' Just need to focus on the treatment which starts on Weds, as the 1st step of kicking this into touch.
This is all soooooooo scary & terrifying but we WILL beat this and we will be able to beat it by drawing on all the support & strength from all you guys, all around the world.
Keep those positive vibes coming our way
Hi Andi and Wendy my thoughts are with you as take on this challenging chapter of your lives. Always draw courage from what you can do.
All the best Craig W
Cancer is so limited . . .
It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot eat away peace
It cannot destroy confidence
It cannot shut our memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot reduce eternal life
It cannot quench the Spirit
It cannot lessen the power
Of the Resurrection.
Our greatest enemy
Is not disease,
Having a website full of photos will give Andi yet another thing to remind him of all things he can do again when he's recovered. Thanks guys!
Over & out (for now!)
Good afternoon!, or dreary afternoon really... nice day to stare out a window and make plans for adventures yet to be taken.
I've been thinking of you and things you could do on Wednesday - I know better than most how difficult it is to stay still for an hour, let alone lie down for six - so here's a suggestion or two for things to keep you occupied.
Decide on a country you'd like to visit when the war is won - a non english speaking one - and learn the language... sounds silly as everyone speaks English ?, but there's something nice about being able to book a room and order some food in dialect. You can pick up CDs and work books at most Whitcoulls stores. My fav is "Hugo's learn () in three months". There is merit to learning Maori (yes, I know many people would laugh at that), but consider this. You and Wendy are travelling in some non English speaking country. Youâ€™re in a taxi, or purchasing something... and one of you gets the feeling that somethingâ€™s amiss. Rather than having to speak well understood English / Spanish etc, which could jeopardise a delicate situation, a few Maori words are all thatâ€™d need to be said for the pair of you to decide to move on, that youâ€™re being ripped off, or whatever...
while youâ€™re at the book store, grab a book on origami. A bit more boring than laughingly attempting to speak something new, but good for keeping the something moving and the mind active.
And in between the two (mind you, they probably won't let you do this in the hospital...), have you considered taking up woodcarving? nothing huge - start with something the size of your hand, 2 dimensions until you get used to it... embody all your feelings into it and hang it on the wall... A single craft knife set should be sufficient to find out if carvingâ€™s for you.
Well, thats all Iâ€™ve come up with so far. Should probably go do some work now... let us know how things go on Wednesday, weâ€™ve all got you in our thoughts.
Hahahaha, if you decide youâ€™re keen on going blonde find a wig maker and Iâ€™ll donate my hair...
All the best,
Have given up trying the tommy K, tommy K's a dj in the name guys as Jim has rigged this thing to bomb it out as am trying the shortened version.
Wendy picture package on big metal pigeon from Blighty, so hopefully that will fill a bit of space on those walls!!
I think you can safetly say that everyone this side of the fence think its unfair too. There is a saying that shit happens and it's usually unjust.
I know things must be hard and Wendy if it's any consolation, Andi's bulldogedness (no such word I know but hey) will hold him in good stead. I have seen how many times Scotty has ploughted into and through him on the slopes (sorry Paul but you have a habit of using Andi as a stopping mechanism?!) and he's a tough cookie.
Like the origami idea, you will have to try and experiment for me A and sort me out with a paper pukeko!! including the bandy legs and big feet!!!
Catch you laters
It was great to catch up today and see your cheeky grin again. Your mental strength and positive frame of mind will get you through. I've seen this before and I know that people like you get through this. We're all thinking of you heaps. Let's catch up for lunch again soon. Good luck for the first of the treatment tomorrow. Talk soon...
Just back from holiday and heard your news! Why one has these journies placed before one is a mystery. None the less you will succeed in this "project" as you do and have done in all your others. You are the most positive and determined person I know and extremely well informed. With regards to the lack of hair no worries bald heads are good and suit you.
Had a horrendous start after the holiday, with a colllasped client in the viewing gallery. She had come out of hospital a month ago after 2 heart attacks. Anyway we managed to get her down to the bus etc and now I am going to do first aid course. Be a little more prepared not that it is always of help but makes one more aware and clued up.
Good luck for the biggy on Wednesday and I miss your cheery personality, so the sooner we start this the quicker you will get back. Lots of Love to you and Wendy , Mads
Ok, so I was reading in this book (I know I should be posting it to you, will do it today) about visualisation exercises, perhaps they might cover this in your relaxation and meditation classes. A quote from the book, "When the line is attached and the chemo starts to flow down the line into your body, visualise it seeking out the cancer and immediately attacking it. See the chemo as powerful and deadly to the cancer cells. See the cancer melting away as the chemo reaches it" (Life, Happiness & Cancer, Phil Kerslake, p109). Another quote from his book when he talks about destroying the cancer using some power or force of your choice..... " What you imagine as your body's army is up to you. I have employed a number of different armies, including Pacmen (from the old computer game) gobbling up the cancer cells. I have enlisted an army of miniature white knights to gallop around in me spearing the cancer with the cells withering away on the end of their spears. And I have employed a white or blue light, acting like a 'sea of good' seeking out and destroying the clearly bad cancer cells. The force you choose represents your strong, powerful and highly effective immune cells. Add your emotions into your imagery - be excited as your champions destroy the cancer cells, be proud of your army; see it as strong and unbeatable. The good guys always win." (p110).
Studies have shown this practice to have an increase in the various white blood cells that fight disease as well as a better emotional state in the patient.
Andi, we know you will find a power or force within you to beat this. Your armies will win!
Will be thinking of you both tomorrow.
Much love and positive thought.
I have come up with a cunning plan for keeping your brain active when your having your 'lying down' sessions. As you must know by now everyone who owns a rebreather should be able to strip and rebuild their RB. So if you can download an instruction manual you can theoretically go through the whole procedure. Then you will be better equipped mentally when you get yours. Your gonna need deco profiles and tables too so you could start memorising these as well. Which will save me carrying loads of stuff diving cos you'll have it all remembered. Ace!
P.S. Can't decide whether I'm getting a KISS or an Inspiration RB.
Just wanted to say on the eve of your treatment, sending a tonne of positive thoughts your way from us. Will hear from Wendy how you're getting on and will be thinking of you both tomorrow.
Keep drawing on your amazing strength and don't forget we're all here to help out however we can.
Andrea & Garth x
I was shocked and dumbstruck at your news and words seem hard to find to express what I want to say. Up until now you have chosen many challenges in your life, you have met them full on and conquered them. Ok, so you did not choose this one, but I feel sure that you can meet it full on and beat it, that is why your early warning system kicked in, you are meant to have this fighting chance, so go to it.
If love, good wishes and positive thoughts can help then the battle is won. My love to you and Wendy, stay strong for each other.
Liz from Oxford UK.
Hi, Lyn here (Andrew (Andi)'s Mum). I want to thank everyone, family, friends, colleagues for all the support and good, positive vibes you are all sending. We are deriving comfort from reading your comments and from knowing what good people Andrew and Wendy have around them. Andrew's determination, coupled with the determination and support of all of us will beat this "intruder". Thank you.
It's about 16 hours to go until the men and women in white coats start pumping all the good, cancer cell seeking destroyers, into me. It'seen great catching up with some of you and drawing strength from all your comments, keep them coming please, it's like you're all here in the room when I read them.
No matter how scary tomorrow may be, it's nowhere nearly as scary as the day I found out I had Cancer, it's only needles to inject the armies of good cells to seek out and destroy the bad ones. Every time I go to the loo, everytime it makes me sick and every piece of hair it causes to fall out, it's just my body emptying itself of bad cells.
I'm as prepared as I can be, I have the laptop, a selection of DVD's, loads of music, books - real ones and spoken ones, PSP and games, oh and Wendy's coming too, so no doubt she'll find something to talk about, hopefully enough for the two of us so I can just try and chill out while the stuff does it's stuff! Oh and I had my hair cut as well, a No 1 all over, don't mind it falling out, just don't want lumps on the pillow!
I'll post an update as soon as I get back on my feet, in the meantime, thanks again for all your thoughts and kind words, I'll catch up with you all as soon as I can.
I might be a long way away but I'm sending some of the luck of the Irish to the other side of the world to help you out. You beat this thing and we'll have a nice cold Guiness soon enough.
Tim & Elaine
Good luck for tomorrow - we'll be thinking of you.
We are off to Normandy - group of 7 including Judy (Wendy's Mum) - on Thursday for a long weekend. Will take some photos and send them to the blog - might raise a smile (or not).
Don't worry about the lack of hair - it's never bothered Roger! Says it makes him look distinguished!
Love and best wishes Janet xx
We're sending up big prayers for you this evening .....Prayers for peace over you and Wendy as you prepare for the battle. Prayers for the drugs to do their thing and eradicate those intruder cells. Prayers for the time to go by quickly as you go through the treatment. Prayers for minimised side effects to the treatment. Even prayers for the practical things, like a hassle free journey to the hospital and that you get your decent coffee.
Be strong cous........we're all behind you.
Steve, Mandy and the boys.
Dear Andi & Wendy,
To say I am dumbstruck by your news is just a small measure of my feelings for you guys, life has certainly kicked you in the guts and you say why me? what did I do to deserve this? the answer is nothing, its just the bad luck of the draw.
So far you have taken on many challenges and conquered them, ok I know you didn't choose this one but I am positive you can tackle and conquer this one as well.
With all the love and positive vibes going back and forth across the globe your cancer does not stand a chance.
My love and the love of my family is with you both and our thoughts are never far away, stay strong for each other.
You still have many roads to travel and adventures to have, and I enjoy hearing about them, you can't allow this 'thing' to deter you, so in your words 'go kick arse'.
At the weekend we listened to the Lance Armstrong's audiobook "It's not about the bike" so we understand a little about what you'll be experiencing tomorrow. If Lance can recover from cancer and then go on to win the TdF seven times, your cancer doesn't stand a chance!
Everyone here is thinking about you, so you won't be alone tomorrow. Just talk to us all from the hospital tomorrow, as we're all there with you.
We all look forward to the next update.
We are counting down the hours here in Scotland until the serious action starts. We will feel the needle with you and be cheering on the "good guys" as they do their work to get rid of the "bad guys". You won't be alone as you lie there because as well as Wendy we will be with you in spirit every minute.
If emails can flash around the world in an instant then I feel certain that our good vibes can do the same. Just imagine that we are there with you in that room supporting you' cause we will be!
Best of luck tomorrow. Think of the teatment as the inner space film and its loads of good little subs seeking out the badies and kicking some micro butt!!!
A long time ago in Canada you once tried to teach me meditation - remember? Have a go at it and focus on Canada. One big step towards the most wicked heliboarding holiday we will ever undertake!!!
Focus dude Focus and you will feel the good vibes heading your way from Blighty. By the way they are travelling via the rockies and collecting some of that BC wickedness enroute.
Good luck stay strong both of you.
Tom & Linz
Thinking of you both and sending lots of love from all of us - go Andi! Great idea to have your hair cut, I read about someone who said she had got her children to shave her head and they all had a lot of laughs while doing it - positive thinking is the key and you certainly seem to have that. xx
Thinking of you both. Be strong. All the best from Lorry Jo and David.
Well, here are we are - getting ready for the 1st round of attack against all those 'orrible cells. Have just read all the latest comments on the blog - you guys are all amazing. You won't believe how much power all your messages have - we are drawing so much strength from them all. We know this will be a long haul but by gaining such positive power & energy from all of you, all around the world, WE WILL BEAT THIS! So bring on that medicine today and lets start phase 1 of project 'Destroy the Intruder'!
Just letting you know you're both in my prayers and thoughts today!
Just think of this as a war and what you all are doing today is gathering up the troops, putting them in their camoflauge clothes, strapping them with the best in weaponry, and showing them how to fight. While that war is going on Andrew, close your eyes and picture two colors. One to breathe in and one to breathe out. With each breath you are taking in, you are getting healing power. You can imagine it running all through your body as it is consumed, placing itself on every part of you. When you exhale all of the bad things are taken from you. Look into the air and see them floating away from you body everytime you exhale. Once the treatment is complete, Imagine yourself, before you leave the hospital, inside a big imginary bubble which will continue to protect you from all unhealthy things. This has worked for me for years! That;s why I'm still here
Stay strong Wendy. You're doing an awesome job!
I've gained so much myself from my relaxation CD that I sent it to you guys via Judith Mair yesterday. I hope you both get some inner solace from it.
Gabs here. What an amazing thing this blog is! Have been thinking about you so much as you go through this time and its hard to believe. I just wanted to say I know personally so many people who have beaten cancer and come out the other end 100% fine. My father was told he had 6 months to live and 4 years on he is 100% cancer free, healthy well and fabulous. You are missed at Tip Top and have left a hole! So get well and get you butt back here slacker!
I am thinking of you and anything you need dont hesitate to call or email
Tonight we had club night at DiveHQ Greenlane, we've all given you a big OK from all your dive buddies. The message was loud and clear from all of us that our positive thoughts are with you and your battle with cancer. See you soon.
Just to let you all know that we're safely back home with Andi tucked up on the sofa after his 1st round of chemo - wasn't too bad, bit painful (not helped by the fact the needle got a kink in it and had to be re-put in, in his hand, rather than his arm). So far, the anti-side effect drugs seem to be doing their thing - Andi's just pretty well wiped out now. Anyway, at least all those drugs are now heading off to destroy the intruders....
Andi will post again as soon as he can - meanwhile, keep those comments & positive vibes coming.
W & A
I hope the batteries are charged up on the PSP/MP3 player/other sofa-bound gadgets :-)
Glad to hear things went well.
Jim / James
Hiya Wendy glad to hear round 1 is over! Now we let the boxer sit in the corner for a few and catch his breath eh!
Glad to hear "so far so good!" I was worried. Now I can rest and hopefully so can you. You need your strength too.
Tank care of you both! Will check back tomorrow from work.
Well done chief
Glad to see that you are off the mark.
Hope that in the big box of drugs you have, you've got something that relieves a numb arse!!!
Now that you are not at the icecream mountain for a while I have heard that its good for the above problem.
Bring on the PSP, expect you to be an expert when we meet up in Canada!!
Take care both of you. Tom
Hi you guys - glad you are both back in the comfort of your own home.
Have had some quiet moments today thinking of you both and visualizing a beautiful light surrounding you, similar to Connie's description of being in a bubble, it felt peaceful and full of love, I'm sure all these powerful thoughts being directed to you from family and friends will get, through despite the uncomfortable times, for light always seeks out the shadows.
My love as always,
As always, your comments and support are awesome, after managing to spend 6 hours or so sat down yesterday, I now have litres of the good guys flying around and zapping the bad guys! The side effects have started, but luckily enough, the drugs that control them are good. Imagine your worst ever hangover - then double it, you're getting close, but it's all in name of getting better, this bout should last a few days and then I get into the next stage of the side effects, the ones the drugs cause and there are ones to control!
Will let you all know how we get on, speak to as many of you as we can and we'll see you when you call round, or visit the country?
Stay strong - we intend to and we need you to.
Pleased to see you are back home safely with your armies now in place on the front line, you have heared the saying if it don't hurt, it don't work, well at least you know the fight has begun which must be better than the awful waiting you have just had. You must now rest, listen to your body and allow it, and the drugs to do their thing. I'll keep the strength coming, both of you are in my thoughts.
Much love, Liz XX
Just visualise those "good guy" hammering the "bad guys". Feel better soon my friend. Thinking of you loads, mate.
Thinking of you lots and hoping that you're doing ok and your body's not taking too much of a battering. You've got to get well quick, because the queue is forming for 'Willsher heli-rides'! Who knows, we may even pay you for the experience. Hopefully you'll spend lots of time resting & re-couping between bouts - take care of yourself & let Wendy spoil you.
Loads of love, Adele & Ant x
What no one can prepare you for is how this stuff makes you feel, everyone is different, inbetween the bouts of Nausea I sleep, loads, and I find it hard to focus as well, meaning that, for the moment, reading is off the list of things to do whilst sitting down as I can't see the words, need some of those LARGE print books maybe?
This is all part of the journey as the good guys do the stuff they need to do to get me better, thank goodness for the anti side effect drugs, would have been hell without those so far.
Wendy is being a great nurse and I'm not having to worry about a thing apart from concentrating on getting through this, loads of people have emailed and texted, great, I love reading them all guys, means loads to me. As for visitors, if you catch me in an awake moment, great, otherwise, I'm told I will start to get over the sleepiness and nausea phase by Monday - ish.
Stay in touch, and thanks and love to you all.
As much as I knew what to expect you to say about what it's making you feel, I was praying maybe you'd be that 1 zillion to one chanced odd, that could go thru it and not feel a thing and not get sick. I'm so sorry you have to endure the yukkieness. BUT you're right it's worth it because it's getting rid of the baddies....
I'm still thinking of you and Wendy all the time and praying all the time.
There's something on your maps of life that's so worth all this crap you're going thru to get to it...
Hugs and healing power!
Andi & Wendy,
Just a very short note from all of us in Apley Forge. Harry and Sam have concocted a little sign for you and we will be sending it soon, they really are quite good for 2 years and 6 months.
Our thoughts are always with you and it makes the years when we didn't see each other even harder to understand, life really is too precious to lose exceptional friends like you, thank God for Trowbridge, and Wolfstone.
I am sorry to hear that you feel pants, but as you have heard many times, it is doing some good. I can't wait for all this to be over as everyday I think, and worry about it....So at least you don't need too.
Love from us all and bigs hugs to Wendy,
Slap, Vic's, Harry and Sam
Well, its Saturday afternoon and Andi's still extremely tired and pretty low - he's finding it so difficult to deal with having no energy and not being able to do anything. Addded to that, he's feeling v.nauseous still. However, we're trying to visualise all those 'baddies' dying off - thats what's causing the sickness - and all the 'goodies' are borrowing his energy to attack all the bad guys. Just need to get through this bit, then hopefully in a day or so, Andi should be feeling a bit better.
Maybe send a few extra positive vibes our way - think we could do with a bit of a boost....
I've talked to my mother about you two and she's got the whole church praying for you both! They've got some awesome prayer warriors over there. All the healing power I have is sent your way!
Bucketloads of good vibes winging their way from Scotland all the time - you're in our thoughts every minute of every day. The good guys need your energy just now to fight the bad guys and that's why you feel so tired and nauseous. I know it is so difficult for you; feeling tired and having no energy like this is so foreign to you but, hopefully, in a couple of days, once the war on those bad guys is really under way, you will feel a little better. Stay strong my loves and keep visualising those "Pacmen" gobbling up all those nasty cells.
Do you remember after a hard night out - normally after another bad loss whilst playing hockey, we would hit Mcdonalds for breakfast and get on the Lucozade and then sit back and wait to feel better. Think of these good guys as that Mcsausage sandwich - pretty unpleasant - but you know its going to do you good in the long run.
Keep fighting mate.
Think of you all the time and sending loads of love and strong vibes to you in Auckland. We wish that we could be closer. Sleep is good so surrender to it and soon you will be riding your bike. Sending lots of pink shirt
love, Andrew, Susie, Alexandra and Livvie
Hi Andi and Wendy,
As normal, there are loads of good vibes buzzing their way to New Zealand from Frome. We'll send some vibes via Whistler to pick up some of that fantastic 'Rockies' air to keep you going. Just think - less than a year we'll be there together having a ball on our snowboards!! We're thinking of you both loads. Take Care, love you lots, Tom and Linz xxxxx
Saturday evening our time but Sunday morning yours. We have just had a fantastic run of fine weather - the best Spring that I can ever recall. We have stored up lots of sunshine rays so I am sending them down to you! As we end our day and you start yours, you are in our thoughts. As an old sage said "don't let the bastards grind you down!" Keep cheerful. You know it is doing you good!
Keep fighting, it is just a passing phase. Each second, minute and hour that passes is closer to being healthy again. The intruder will be delt with and before you know it, you will be on your rebreather course!!
Thinking of you guys!
Thinking of you and hoping that today you will be feeling stronger. Speak to you tomorrow. Love from us in Sydney
Thanks to all of you who have been in contact with us over the weekend - its been a really tough few days but we're getting through it with all of your support. Andi is still feeling sick and v.tired but we've been in touch with Michael, our oncologist, this evening and he's said Andi can take some extra anti-sickness drugs, which do seem to be working. Hopefully Andi will start to feel better tomorrow - we're to ring Michael again tomorrow to let him know how Andi's going.
We're just having to take one day at a time - which as those of you who know me (a self-confessed control freak who loves having a plan!) is taking a bit of getting used to! However, I need to get my head around it as we don't know how Andi is gonna be from day to day. We're trying to focus on the moment and not worry about the next few weeks or months (as that's pretty scary....)
We know we can't get through this without all your support - its really appreciated - lots of love to you all
Glad you've been in touch with Michael and that, hopefully, the extra drugs are easing the feeling of nausea. You DO have a plan, Wendy, it's to take each day at a time and you are doing fantastically well; everyone is full of admiration for you both and for the strength you are showing. Stay strong, stay focused; we're with you all the way. Love you loads; I've appointed Kirsty my Proxy to give you huge hugs when she sees you in the next couple of days. Mum xx
Wendy, it's funny how we have no clue what strength we really do have until we are able to look back upon a situation and realise we made it thru it. I'm a control freak too and believe me I know how you're feeling when it's removed by some unseen force that offers no resolve. But you will make it through this. And though I don't know you personally (I hope to one day) I know for you to be handling what you are handling, and YES you are HANDLING it cuz you're still here and doing it, you have to be one tough cookie!
Some humour, "YOU GO WIT YA BAD SELF GIRL!"
I'm still praying for Andi!!! It's a daily Nightly everytime I get a chance thing... You two are never far from my immediate thoughts!
Hugs and healing power to you both!
Finally, Andi is starting to feel better! The extra anti-sickness drugs seem to have worked - I spoke to Michael (our oncologist) again today and he said it seems that Andi probably stopped 2 of the 3 anti-sickness drugs too soon. Michael explained that obviously they have to take an educated guess at the dose and how long they should be taken for but that adjustments can be made for the next cycle. He also said that it was likely that Andi would feel at his worst this time and it shouldn't be this bad next time.
I've been into work this afternoon, whilst Charlie & baby Molly, came to visit Andi. Tomorrow, Andi's cousin, Kirsty and his Aunt, Angela are coming up to Auckland (they won a competition to see a show in Auckland) so we're going to be meeting up with them which will be cool.
Once again, Thanks for all the messages - please keep them coming. Andi is suffering from slightly blurred vision at the mo (another side effect of all the drugs) but I'm making sure I read out all the comments & e-mails to him.
We WILL be able to get through this with your help, love & support.
Blurred vision - so a similar effect to tequila or Jack Daniels then....
Glad he's feeling a bit better. At least next time, with the right dose, it shouldn't be as bad. And apart from anything, at least he will now know what to expect.
Glad to know you are feeling a bit better today, Andrew. No doubt Charlie and Molly's visit cheered you up especially as Charlie brought the new snowboard with him! You can look at it and plan your trip to the slopes of Whistler next winter with your fellow boarders! I suppose the side effects of the first dose are bound to be a bit hit and miss but at least they'll know next time to keep you on the other anti-sickness drugs for longer and, hopefully, it won't be as bad as this has been. Hopefully, too, the blurred vision will become unblurred soon.
Loads of love. Mum xx
Great to hear that you're feeling slightly better Andi. As I said to Wendy yesterday, I can at least relate in some small way to the nausea and tiredness from being pregnant!! But know it in no way compares to what you're going through at the moment.... Still sending loads of positive vibes your way, try to keep focussed on the many positive things you've got to look forward to once the treatment is complete and all the baddies are gone! All our love Andrea and Garth
Can't possibly begin to imagine what you are going through mate, (at least with a hangover you've had something good going on prior to feeling so shite!), but am glad to hear you are feeling a bit better. I'm sure that a big strong boy such as yourself will beat this thing off quicker than unfit slobs such as myself. Just make sure that you don't try to rush it on, take advice and if you are tired then rest, don't try and do stuff & keep going regardless, I know what you are like. Our thoughts are with you and Wendy, take the C.I. point of view, small steps and celebrate the positive. Take care buddy, Pete,Lucy & girls -X-
Great news! Andi is finally starting to feel better - he's not feeling anywhere near as sick and has managed to eat a lot more today, so that's fab! He's still v.tired but thats to be expected.
We saw Kirsty & Angela yesterday & today for lunch - it was great to see them and catch up. We've both been given so many hugs!
Keep those positive vibes coming our way!
W & A
That's great news Wendy and Andi! Michael will sort the drugs out for the next hit and hopefully the hangover won't be so tiring! Sending virtual hugs!
If Andrew is eating then that is an excellent sign. He needs to keep his weight up! Angela telephoned us when she got home and said that she and Kirsty had seen a big difference today from yesterday and that they enjoyed seeing you both. Keep feeding him up Wendy!
Sorry I havent written in a couple of days... Still doing a lot of praying for you two and making people who don't pray, pray too It must be my animal magnagrowling... I can't wait till I get to meet you in person Wendy. You seem like an awesome woman! I hate knowing good people are out there and I don't know them yet Keep strong and keep doing what you're doing, Wendy, You're AWESOME! Tell Andi we miss him terribly at work! And I'm personally gonna throw him a party when he gets back.. Hell, I might even sing in the cafe which I swore I'd never do
Anyway, Hugs to you both!!!!
I have decided that the best thing I can do is join your struggle and to support you I will therefore eat as much as possible as well!! Bring on the pies.
Thinking about you both.
We are so pleased that you are starting to feel a bit better Andi, just think, after the lows, there certainly is gonna be the ups to look forward to. The only thing you can do & that is to take 1 day at a time, each day is different & another step closer to being 100% again. You are very much in our thoughts & prayers & we can't send you enough words to say how special you both are to us. Adam put on his black & decker safety hat complete with ear defenders (all plastic of course) & said "Adam fix it, helicopter Andi not well". I think Bob the Builder may have influenced that one!! I wonder what Postman Pat would say, that he'd post the baddies off to no fixed abode maybe!!! We're thinking of you every moment & send all our love & support.
Lynn, Stuvv & Adam xxx
Thinking of you daily. I'm like Tim and supporting your stuggle, I will drink more Vodka.
Been a while since I wrote anything, finally starting to feel I'm climbing the hill on the way out of round one! still have zero energy, really weird for me that one! and don't fancy food, another strange one, wonder how long it will be before I fancy a coffee again, or even a beer?
All the Dr's said it would be hard, but I had no idea just how hard it could be, all your kind comments and thoughts have helped so much, Wendy has read them out every day as we watch the blog and think of all the things we can do after we kick this thing, even though talking has been hard, seems I picked up a cold and sore throat on top od Chemo - I've appreciated the calls I've had, let's hope I can take a few visitors next week, get me ready for round two to start in earnest!
Love A xx
This blog is amazing - the comments are wonderful - so heart warming to read. I am glad to hear that you are feeling a little better now. Feeling so sick is incredibly debilitating. Saps your appetite and energy. I know that morning sickness is nothing to what you have been / still are going through but I remember how utterly awful I felt so I can't begin to imagine how you must have been feeling (in fact 14 more weeks of it is putting me off number 2!! - well that and temper tantrums but we won't go there!!!:) ) Glad you are feeling a little better now. I agree with Tim's comment and will eat too to help support you - bring on the Ruby Murry!!
On a more serious note, I speak and email Wendy a huge amount, hear the updates etc but don't feel that I connect directly to you. I am sure she passes our thoughts and hugs on to you but I wanted you to know that we think about you all the time - your name is in conversation every day around updates and news. I scan this blog daily with trepidation for updates and we are routing for you 100%. You are a lovely person and make my best mate very happy - you will beat this and whenever I see a seagull I think of the pacman drugs heading to defeat it chanting "mine, mine, mine" - I have to smile - such a cute image.
Take care, Love Lilli, Jonathan and Emily P
Glad you are feeling more human?!! Not like you to be off of food.
Trouble is that you sitting still is a none starter as far as your body goes as its usually darting around all over the place trying to keep up with your spirit!! That keeps your appetite up!!
Keep strong as it's a hard slog to get uphill and it might be like trudging through thigh deep powder but once on the top of that hill or mountain? there will be a hell of a ride back down to civilisation. Don't worry therefore as the ride down will be the best youve ever had.
Catch up with you somewhen
Love to you both
It's Sunday evening here in NZ and I am finally starting to feel human again, it's taken 12 days so far and the side effects are only now starting to wear off, that's the really nasty ones, the others stay with me until a few weeks after my final cycle I understand, fun!
The nausea isn't bad now, as long as I eat something, that's the hard part, still don't really fancy much food and what I do eat is so hard to swallow, but if I don't eat, I feel sick again, welcome to the vicious circle. The other effects include the tiredness, numbness in hands and feet, blurred vision (makes reading a non starter!) not ever needing the loo! and generally feeling still like I have the hangover from hell...otherwise it's a walk in the park :) Today was the first day I'd been out of the house for a while, couldn't really walk, wasn't told about that one, really hard for me, as you know, I'm not normally a very active person.
One of the hardest parts is knowing that this is cycle one out of six, I know looking back in a few months time, this will seem like a distant memory, but right now, it seems like I have a massive hill to climb and I'm wearing roller skates, the mental strength is draining, I admire anyone who has been through this and stayed smiling, my smiles have faded, but they're back now, for a few days, then the cycle of bloods and IV starts again.
I hope to be able to catch up with a few people in the next few days, my days are short as I can't cope with much, but if the "awake" hours coincide, maybe I'll even fancy a coffee - not had one since day zero - Chemo day, coming from a true Espresso junkie, really hope that one comes back more than the desire for beer.
Love your smile andi, maybe somedays it's just taking a break :)thinking of you Lisa and John
Great news - Andi has been smiley today - for the 1st time in a while! He's finally starting to feel a bit better, although he's still really tired but is a lot more cheerful. It's been very difficult to see him so low - I've never seen him like that.....
Anyway, he did make it out of the house today! We drove to a few furniture shops on the search for a 'Stressless' chair - Andi needs a bit more comfort than our cheap & cheerful sofa currently offers! However, there's a 4 month delivery on the chairs, so we're waiting until tomorrow morning to find out if there is one in stock that we can have - fingers crossed.
I'm going to drop Andi over to Charlie's tomorrow - for a bit of Charlie humour and a change of scenery, so hopefully that will do him good.
Keep those messages & positive vibes coming - hopefully Andi will have a better week or so this coming week and be able to catch up with some more of you by phone, e-mail or in person - be good to have some more visitors now he's feeling a bit more human again!
Bye for now
lol, I can imagine Andi reclining in a Stressless with a Guinness (for medicinal purposes, of course...) and wondering where the day, night (week?) has gone :-)
I can assure you that Stressless chairs are the dogs nads when it comes to comfort. The big problem is that you keep waking up at 5 am after deciding just to stay reclined for another 5 minutes.
4 months sounds a little excessive, usually if you're not too fussed about colour or type of leather, most stores can supply a little more quickly although you may have to consider a demonstrator. (Time for a bit of bartering!)
Take care, thinking of you... Paul, Caroline and Freya xxx
Hey Andi -- Best wishes from the ex Tip Top team at Charlie's! Flick me an email with your order and I'll drop off some Charlie's juices/smoothy's or Phoneix Organic juices anytime! (that almost sounds likes a sales pitch!)
Hope everything is going well and looking forward to getting out on the MTB again soon as have pretty slack getting out on it since we last went out and the road bike is starting to gather dust! So need you to get well and out on the road with me.
Hi Andi and Wendy,
I just want to tell you how inspiring your blog is and that Russ (my hubby) and I are thinking of you.
All our love...we are sending positive vibes your way!!!!
DD & Russ xxxx
I am very pleased to see you are coming out the other side of this round, and can well understand your fears regarding future rounds, but rest assured they will not be as bad. You know what to expect, there are no mysteries, and this always helps prepare you.
I was pleased to hear that Angie and Kirsty managed to get to see you and to be able to pass on all the family hugs in person.
Now you are feeling a little better perhaps you can look forward to some of the things you want to undertake next year, and draw up a schedule to do some gentle things to start with as you gain your strength back, building up as the year progresses. Remember each day that passes is one day nearer the final goal, you back to full health.
Thinking of you both constantly, with love.
Hi both of you,
It sounds really hard on you both at the moment. Glad to here you are smiling again Andy. Not like you to be down. Try and get your strength up for the next round. keep thinking of all those bike rides etc once you are up to full speed again.
Hug & kiss for you both.
Hi Andi and Wendy
So pleased to hear that you are recovering from the first round of treatment. Everyone here sends their love and support to you both. Bob and I met up with Mike and Mags Green last weekend, they asked after you and they too send their best wishes.
I posted a msg to the blog about a week ago but I think it was lost in cyberspace. Anyway, we're all thinking about you and talking about you heaps. Looking forward to catching up for lunch again soon
Talk to you soon
Glad that your feeling a bit better and great news that you got out of the house for a bit.
I've been looking after the poor Knights for you and they are still lovely. You are missing 30m viz at the moment though.
Keep positive Dood. You're winning.
I'm again, starting to feel like a human being a little bit more each day, the numbness is starting to fade in my fingers and feet, the other side effects are not too bad, but I think my hair is starting to slowly fall out, saves money on cutting it! there were a few more bits falling out in the shower this morning, time to start building that beanie collection I've always wanted, I like hats anyway, just didn't imagine that this would be a reason to buy more.
It's 6 days to go until I start the second round of Chemo, I'm now trying to mentally prepare myself for that, it's so hard to know that I will be so sick again, just as I'm starting to feel better, and even harder knowing that I felt fine when I was diagnosed, the shock was the hardest thing, not that I was really sick or anything, just had problems swallowing. I have a few mental things to prepare for, firstly there's the Chemo, the positive part is that it's killing all the bad guys and it will also be two thirds of the way to the Operation. The other mental part, for me, is that my background and work ethic are saying to me "you're starting to feel better, great, you can get back to work again" as I really do enjoy what I do, but I know that I can't, not for a while anyway, I have to put "me" first and have some "me" time, or I may never get through this. On the plus side again, this has the potential to be the most fulfilling thing I may ever have happen to me, so I intend to take all the lessions it offers as I have my journey.
We are back in the cancer society on Friday, they have been amazing, I have always supported cancer charities, especially after losing a couple of friends, now I understand fully why they need so much support. If anyone is in need of a charity to help, please, think of Cancer Societies especially here in NZ, less people means less support! all those Jean's Day's hey?
Talk to you all soon.
I let you out of my sight for a couple of years and look what happens...Seriously though keep your pecker up. We are all thinking of you both.
My mum and Dad (Janet and Peter to you) send their love and wish you a speedy recovery.
Given your attitude to problems, I'm certain you're not going to let this get in your way.
And now for the news:
Sarah gave birth to our third daughter, Rebecca Jasmine. Who just like her Dad is very peaceful and incredibly good looking. The little fat pudding has put on 3lbs in weight in a month!!...normally they lose weight after the birth.
I'd forgotten what a bummer sleep deprivation is though.
You'll also be glad to know that Man City continue to be the court jesters of the premiership. With some despot about to buy the club with his blood money. Oh well as long as we get a decent transfer kitty I'm sure no one will mind!!!...I now have a few more morals than when we were growing up, but only slightly.
Chris is still a copper in Moss Side...I know it beats me how he's lasted this long.
I'm looking for a new job. Thinking of moving to Devon. We've had enough of the South East and the daily commute into Londinium with the great unwashed on the train.
That's about all our news for now.
Take care and get plenty of rest. You will beat this.
Love and Best Wishes
Matt, Sarah, Jessica, Casey and Rebecca
PS. I'll get my mum to knit you a beanie!!! I'm sure it'll be lovely.
Andi is doing a lot better now, so hopefully he'll have a good week now. He spent Monday at Charlie's - I went over there after work and we all had dinner together. It was good to see Charlie & Jenny and baby Molly again.
Yesterday, our new 'Stressless' chair was delivered - it's v.smart & soooo comfy! Luckily, there was one in stock and that's why they were able to deliver it so fast. At least Andi will be able to rest & recuperate in comfort now.
Now that Andi's feeling better, he's been able to have a few visitors again - his boss, Norm came round to see him yesterday and then today, Andrew (yes, another one - there are so many Andrews!) from the dive shop, came to see him, as did John, from Tip Top. Sveta & Kirill also invited Andi out for a walk, round to a local Tea & coffee shop for a cuppa! Despite going off coffee, Andi is rapidly becoming a tea connoisseur (sshh, don't tell Scottie at Cerebos!) & tried out Green Tea with vanilla today!
Meanwhile, I've been into work for the last 3 days - its been good to have something else to focus on and great to catch up properly with everyone at Cerebos. It does help me, having a small part of normality, amongst everything else we're having to deal with at the mo. It also helped as I had a full night's sleep last night, so that always makes dealing with things a lot easier!
We're hoping to be able to get away for the night on Saturday - not too far away, just to have a change of scenery & be able to chill out before the next round starts next Weds.
I've been having a look at the Lance Armstrong Foundation website today: www.livestrong.org - you might want to have a look if you get the chance - it's got heaps of great info on there and some inspirational stories. So to quote Lance, We are living strong - this is largely due to all the wonderful support from you guys - we can feel all those positive vibes coming from all around the globe!
Bye for now
I would strongly recommend that people read (or listen to) Lance Armstrong's book "It's not about the bike". We listened to it via Audiobook (4 hours) and it's incredible. Don't worry if you're not a cyclist, it's more about his battle with cancer, how he overcame it, and how he transformed his life.
The most telling part from it for me is when Lance proclaims that Cancer is "...the best thing that ever happened to him" in that is made him value life and discover who he really was.
Definitely worthwhile reading/listening.
Jim & Janice
It's Saturday morning, the sun is shining in NZ, and I feel as though I am normal again, all ready to start over again on Wednesday, well almost normal, still have a few cold symptoms, as I have zero immune system I guess I have picked up typical early winter cold things that are floating around, still have an odd metallic taste in my mouth, nice! everything taste weird, and I still can't stand smells, and I'm tired, but the worst bits have passed. I still have to eat regular but small meals, and slowly - with lots of water, preferably sparkling, the bubbles seem to help the swallowing process.
I had a good day yesterday, spent most of it at the Cancer Society, we saw the counsellor and I had three hours of relaxation techniques and meditation, it felt like only 5 minutes and I felt so relaxed and great afterwards. I was the only bloke and the youngest by a good 25 years, just goes to show how rare it is for someone my age and fitness to get this I guess. At least I am more confident, after meeting them all yesterday, that being young and fit, I am so well equipped to deal with the physical challenge this means.
We are aiming to have as "normal" a weekend as possible this weekend, we're spending the night somewhere nice tonight, a change of scenery, more importantly, with a spa bath...there are times when you just fancy a long soak in the bath, only having a shower in the house, that proves a challenge, so we're hiring one, we'll both look like prunes by about 6pm tonight.
I'm feeling good about Wednesday, the treatment is fine, but I am apprehensive about how long the side effects and the feeling like total crap will last it was 12 days last time before there was any improvement, I have accepted that it will last as long as it lasts, that's all making me better, but the feeling bad bit was hard, especially with the blurred vision that meant that "Mr Active" couldn't even read a book! Again, it's a means to and end, the end being the end of the "intruder" and after Wednesday I'll be two thirds of the way to the Operation, almost there really, it's been a month already.
Andi it's great that your feeling a bit better. Imagine finning slowly back out of Bernie's cave at Middle arch and seeing the surface ripples. Then Shadowfax, anchor line and schools of fish. Check your computer 18 degrees. Look around-40m vis.
Your shrimp mates in the cave seem to have buggered off. A school of 18 Boarfish were spotted at 45m by middle arch though. Awesome. I still haven't seen any sharks unfortunately. Whenever i'm there they are not. Cream Gardens. Sharks 14m. Martin 30m. 2nd dive. Martin 14m Sharks no-where.
Note for Andy. Llyw has gone back to the UK now. Jamie passed his LLO(Local Launch Operator) exam and is now officially a skipper of Shadowfax. I still haven't done my swims(er... um... er...)so i'm still DMT. Our new skipper came recommended from Wade. His qualifications are pretty impressive; his sea service reads... 22m Yacht, 2 years at sea, Master of vessel, Area of operation-Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, Antartic, Tasman. As his first entry. We like him.
Hiya Andi, The way I see it is at least you have some idea of what's going to happen this go around and each go around. Much like my Lazer treatment I had in my eyes so many times trying to stop me from going blind. They told me what it was like, (They being people who'd never had it before cuz their eyes were fine) so I had an idea of what to expect, but then when they actually did it, it wasn't anything like what they told me to expect. I didn't realise I had to make sure I looked into the light but not at the center point of it, while they were inflicting what sure as heck felt like pain though they said there wouldn't be any. If I looked at the center, I would be blinded permanently where they zapped me. That was totally terrifying. But when I went the next time, it was a little easier. I went into it knowing, "Conni you can't look at that light, so find something interesting inside this whole thing and stay focused on it until it's all over. Almost like putting yourself inside a box and though it's not comfortable there and there's really no one in the box to talk to who gets what's going on, you can find solace inside the box because maybe there's an interesting little shadow on the wall and as you get closer you see the shadow is really something else and you just keep going further into the shadow until it's all over. I hope that all makes some sort of sense to you. But knowing truely is half the battle in things like this. If you know what to expect in a real sense, then you can accept, and acceptance is how we make it thru all these crappy things we endure as humans. One day we will have to accept that the old person we see in the mirror really is us, even though inside we still feel like that teenager...
Glad to hear about the spa. Same issue here. Everyday is a bath day in my world and all I have is a shower. Ashlie and Mark had a real laugh when I bought the kiddie pool and stuck it in the shower floor so I could have a bath (Yes I am stubborn) The downstairs neighbors however were very upset when I realised there was no way to get the water out safely, and ended up flooding the whole downstairs unit. I've since given up on bathing in the shower. Mark gets a spa bath however once a week in Palmerston, so when I ask for a Tuesday and Wednesday off, you know why now
Hiya Wendy, hope things are good with you!!!! I understand I might be able to catch a ride with some of the other able drivers so I might see you guys soon!
Monday, every third Monday is now "Blood Day" to check that my body and white blood cell count has recovered enough to blast it with more some Chemo, it must be "Blood Day" for half of Auckland as I had to wait for almost an hour to have my arm used for target practice - thankfully, I didn't have the trainee today, the last guy should take up darts instead! If all goes to plan, my results will be viewed by my Oncologist tonight, and he'll then confirm that all is ok for Wednesday's session.
Just as I start to feel normal, I get more Chemo and know that I'll feel like crap again, hopefully not for as long as last time and at least after Wednesday, I'll still be two thirds of the way to the Op!
We had a great weekend trying to be "normal" and recover ready for this round, we'll hopefully be recovering with family next time if all goes to plan - here's hoping!
Hey Andi and Wendy, just been catching up on all your blogs and must admit have felt quite moved by a lot of them, even some of the comments i.e. cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me (from Lance A). Very thought provoking and I am sure you have thought greatly about how this is going to change you once you come out the other side. Remember, take each day as it comes, maybe it won't take as long to recover from this round, as you are better prepared. John and I will come to you guys if you don't make it for your trip - that's a promise ok. I am so pleased you both managed to have some pampering over the w/end together - how nourishing that must have been for you both. Like you say with each bout of chemo, it brings you closer to the end of this battle - so bring it on, welcome your partner in this fight!! Don't think about the side effects - they will happen, but now you are better equipped to deal with them, with your meditation and relaxation techniques you are learning. When the thought of those side effects starts to bring you down, take yourself into a 'happy place' (quote from two and a half men sitcom - only he used it when he wanted to tune out from his girlfriend/mother!). You will get through this.
John just flew off to the States today for the week, so I shall be making the most of watching all those trashy reality shows that he hates! Will miss him though. He tried to get hold of you on the phone today and is also thinking of you for this Wednesday as he won't be able to call.
Wendy I now have my new oven and attempted a pitta pizza with ketchup, onion and cheese - not as good as yours - can't get that combo cheese you had in my supermarket, doh!! Still can't convince John to move to AKL. When I mentioned it he said 'let me know how you get on'.....guess that's a no then.
Anyway my lovelies, thinking of you both what more can I say. You will both look back on this one day and be amazed at how you coped.
With love as always
Kirsty, John and the short pink one, oh and the bump!
Oh well, it looks like the first bout hit me harder than expected, I guess that's where the 12 days being floored came in. My white blood cell count is too low to allow me to have Chemo on Wednesday! I can still continue with the tablets but I have to wait another week to have the IV drugs. I'm ok with it, but very disappointed as it adds another week on to the three pre-Op cycles but at the same time, if my body can't take it, there's no point in pushing it, I just hope the obviously extreme first cycle has eaten loads of the bad cells so there's less for the other two cycles to have before they cut the bugger out.
So, with such a low white cell count, I also have to stay clear of places with too many people and too many children that can carry infections and colds etc, so please, keep the visits coming but only if you're fit and healthy - these things are sent to try us, and they are, but what's a week between friends eh?
Glad to here you are nearly up to speed again. Remember its a marathon not a sprint!
Thinking about you all the time.
Tim & Elaine
Rough news about the week delay for 'round two' but nature never plays to a script, so just hang in there and take the opportunity to continue re-charging ready for the next onslaught.
At least it sounds as if you're doing the proper thing and allowing yourself to slow down, bit of a shock for you I should imagine but very neccessary.
We may not be with you in body but we are with you in spirit and think about both of you alot.
Take care buddy. Much love to you both.
Pete,Lucy,Yasmin & Olivia.
Just a small set back guys in the grand scheme of things, very disappointing I'm sure. Your body is obviously not ready just yet so take it easy - come on your getting good at that now - right?? So we'll come to you instead - we will arrange something when we all have an idea of how your body copes with the 2nd round.
Lots of love and strength
We were so sorry to learn of your health problems and hope the delay to your second chemo is just a minor setback.You have the strength and fitness both mentally and physically to overcome the cancer,as well as lots of support from your friends and relatives.Best wishes from the Falconers to you and Wendy who sounds a brick.
Hi Andi, Hi Wendy
Great to hear you were feeling a bit better last week Andi. Look at this as an opportunity to build yourself up so you're even stronger for your next round of treatment. Take in as many nutrients as you can.
I have a family friend who has gone into remission and she tells me that Kumara is very good for you. Perhaps Pumpkin and Kumara soup is a goer? (add a little bit of curry powder to give it some flavour if you can handle it.)
We are all constantly thinking about you here at work and really miss your smiles and input. Don't worry tho', we are keeping the cogs turning and looking forward to when you can take your place in the team again.
Hope you're feeling a bit better today. We're thinking about you heaps. You might be slightly consoled to know that it's been a loooong time since I've been out on the MTB, so you're not alone in the world of 'MTB withdrawls' !!
Thought I'd better get back in touch - just noticed I haven't "blogged" since last Weds - honestly I have no idea where the time goes! I've managed to work for most of this week too which is good. Although Andi was v.disappointed that his 2nd round of chemo had to be postponed, we're taking advantage of this extra week with Andi feeling a little better. He's had some more visitors this week which has been great - Ian called in for a coffee and Gavin has done a great job of improving Andi's X-box playing skills today!
Tomorrow, we're off to the Cancer Society again - Andi is going to his next Meditation & Relaxation class and I'm going to see our counsellor again (I've got some specific worries about Andi going into hospital - for those that know me, you know why - so we're gonna talk through those). Then in the evening, we're meeting some of my friends from work for a drink. Andrea (one of my fab friends at Cerebos) won a 'bar shout' at one of the local bars for tomorrow night, so we're going to 'help' her spend her bar tab!
Andi's Aunty & Uncle, Angela & Nick, are going to be at Auckland airport Sunday morning, en route from Wellington to London, so we're going to head out there to meet them for a coffee!
Other than that, no other real plans for the weekend (now that's quite a hard thing for me to say!) but we need to take each day as it comes - I'm getting used to that concept, albeit, very slowly!
Please keep the messages, e-mails & phone calls coming - despite what some people may think, we love hearing all your 'normal' day to day news, so please keep us upto date with what's going on with you guys!
Bye for now - keep those positive vibes heading our way!
As Abbi mentioned, you are more than welcome to babysit, visit, or we can bring our puppy over to you for some unconditional golden retriever love. We will probably head to the Mellons Bay beach on Saturday so he can have an off lead adventure, around 11am is you want to see him in action. Otherwise let me know what time/day suits you guys and I can bring him to you, anytime and no pressure.
Take care Nicky
Now there's an offer you can't refuse Andrew; to have some unconditional golden retriever puppy love - it's the best! We are taking Becky to St Andrews beach today - goldens love beaches! Lots of love from Mum and Dad (and Becky).
Hiya you two. Sorry I've been absorbed with life too That's why I haven't posted too much lately, but always thinking of you both.. Still praying...
Right now I'm sitting here listening to the Atomic 80's folder on my Phatboy drive thanks to Andi kindly loaning me his Ipod So kewl to go back to days when life was innocent and free....
Ya know maybe the cancelation this week was a God given gift.... Just accept it as it comes. I've learned whatever veers me away from my expectations usually ends up being for my own good later. For instance they aren't going to take all the metal out of my leg now due to my poor healing, but they will take just the pin that's poking out of my knee... It's not what I expected or wanted, but maybe if I got what I wanted I'd lose my whole leg.... So I'll just have to accept it as it's come. Hindsight's a crappy thing to gamble on, but I do believe there are reasons for everything.
I'm about to go off to my father in law's for a supposedly yummie lamb roast. In the states lamb's a delicacy and mom was poor so I never learned to like it His veggies are totally awesome though!
Big hugs to you both, lots or prayer and healing power to you both!
Hi Andi, I'm back working at Tip Top for Vince getting those damn SOP assessment docs up and running for the Bulk/Takehome. I come in every Monday which is the only free time I have. I'm sure you really want to hear about work! Anyway I was really shocked to hear that you weren't here as I was looking forward to catching up.
Hang in there!
Monday morning, I've just been and had more blood taken, not quite half an arm this time, but hopefully all the counts will come back ok tonight and I'll be able to have Chemo no 2 on Wednesday. Last week's set back had its pros and cons, but that's the way it goes I guess.
Whilst I was at the Cancer Society on Friday, I took the opportunity to talk to a few of the people there and the nurses, they asked what drugs I was on and they replied by saying that my treatment was "hard core" and that the Oncologist had hit me about as hard as you could be hit by Chemo, he confirmed that it was heavy treatment and that they had maybe gone a little bit towards the too heavy stage, but they were trying to shrink the thing as much as possible. He said that they decided that as I was young and fit (don't feel that way at the moment I can tell you) he was going all out. It's good that he's confident in my ability to cope with the strong treatments, and it's good that he's going all out, I don't want half measures here, even if it means a lot of pain and discomfort along the way, throw all you have at me to get rid of this and let me get back to normal!
He also said that he will reduce the dose slightly this time, and that, hopefully, the first will be the worst.....we'll see, let's hope it doesn't feel as though I've been hit by such a large truck this time, a car will be fine.
Good to hear that you have been given the "all clear" for Round 2 on Wednesday. Let's hope that this will be kinder to your system than Round 1? I've just spoken to your Aunt/Uncle - Angela and Nick who have just arrived in Bognor on the coldest and wettest day for months. It was around 25 deg C there last week and is now down to about 10 - typical for a Bank Holiday? They say it was wonderful seeing you both at AKL on Sunday and wish you well for Wednesday.
I am very pleased to hear that your wee white blood cells are prepared for the next battle. Keep it going, you are doing so well!
Good news, my counts came back ok, seems my wee white blood cells have been having a little party in the past week and are recovered enough to allow the doc to hit me with round two, so I'm booked into Mercy hospital again for tomorrow for another 7 or so hours of doing, well, mostly nothing again, whilst they hook me up to my own IV kit...it follows me everywhere for the day, try going to the loo every 30 mins with that attached.
The oncologist said last night, that the 12 days or so of being laid up in bed last time, were about 10.5 days longer than he'd have liked, he's going to spend some time on the anti side effect drugs regime and the main doses have also been reduced, all looking good for a more tolerable second round, we'll keep you posted.
All the very best for you tomorrow. I'm jetting off to Nice for a few days with work. Sounds good, but you can be in any hotel/airport/office in the world and they're all the same! But wherever I am, I'm still thinking of you.
Go and shoot those 'orrible little cancer cells!
With a name like 'Mercy' hospital, it generates visions of leather sofas and waitress service delivering the clinical equivalent of Bacon butties, underdone egg sandwiches and other more dubious hangover cures :-) I'm sure you remember a few of those!
So, to quote Apone - "We come here, and we're gonna conquer, and we're gonna kick some, is that understood?"
You've got your orders ;-)
Love Paul, Caroline and Freya...
Good luck tomorrow Andi - we will be thinking of you. Praying it does not make you feel as bad as last time.
Go get 'em!!
Love Lilli, Jonathan and Emily P
Rocky has a saying in his latest film according to all the ad's over here. Its something along the line of "its not how hard you hit but how many times you can get up and keep on coming back!!" Up and at em sport, ding ding round two!!! Here's hoping those 'orrible little cells get another good shoeing and that you don't feel to beatup in the process.
By the way glad to see that the mini banana car is built. Do you let Wendy drive that one or not?!!
Best wishes for tomorrow.
Thinking of you
Tom & Linz
Wednesday morning, about 5 hours until dart board time again. Thanks for all your support and messages again everyone, been great reading them all as I prepare for the next few days, with hope, not as bad as last time, but even if it is, it's two thirds of the way to the Op!
I'm getting quiet a lot of discomfort from the "invader" now, which, I'm told, is a good thing, it means the chemo is working, it's worse when I've eaten something - I'm so looking forward to being able to eat proper food again, roast dinners, steak, great big crusty sandwiches, pizza's, all the things that are hard, or impossible, to swallow at the moment, which is pretty much everything actually, I have to drink vast quantities of liquid to help with the process, though not beer, usually sparkling water.
Well, this may be the last message I post for a few days, I could well be just in bed or sleeping on my comfy chair, if my vision stays with me, I can at least read and use the computer, we'll just have to wait and see.
Mercy hospital allow visitors. so if any of you are passing on your wau home, pop in and say hi.....
Hi Andrew, I know that, in reality, we are thousands of miles away but, in spirit, we are there beside you and with you every inch of the way as you prepare for the next battle with the "invader". Keep up your spirits and your sense of humour and, as Sarah says, Kia kaha. That's a good motto to have. We are sending you loads of good vibes and all our love. M xx
Just to let you know that we're home again after round 2. It wasn't too bad and we talked through a new anti-sickness regime with the oncologist, using different medication, so hopefully Andi will not feel as bad this time....keeping everything crossed anyway. Will be in touch again tomorrow, off to bed now.
W & A
Everything is crossed for you Andi. Hopefully the latest chemo will not make you sick for so long. Feel better soon.
xx (in a manly non-brokeback-mountain way)
Get some rest mate and keep dreaming about carving your way through some perfect white powder. Everything that you are going through now is getting you back there - just imagine what that first run is going to feel like!
Sorry, didn't seem to have a chance to blog yesterday...worked from home whilst Andi slept for most of the day. He's still feeling sick but nowhere near as bad as last time, so hopefully the new anti-sickness drugs are doing their thing! Will be in touch again soon - keep all those positive vibes coming our way!
W & A
It was good to speak to you both this morning (UK time) before you went off to bed. I really hope that Andrew wakes up bright and as cheerful as he sounded when we spoke. it was good to hear the sense of humour coming through and we could feel that the treatment was not making him as uncomfortable as the first time around. It made us feel better never mind him! Here's hoping that you will both be able to enjoy the weekend a little knowing that it's two treatments down and just one to go!
So nice to speak to you last night. You sound so much more cheerful than last time. It's good to hear you being so positive. Hopefully your vision won't be affected as much this time. Interesting new name for your new dust buster too!!! Take Care of each other. xxxxx
I am really pleased to hear that you now have number 2 chemo under your belt, and I do hope that the side effects are not as bad this time. You are now well on the way with the first part of your treatment and I am sure you are giving those little buggers a severe headache.
When you feel able too, I would be very interested in your opinion of your stressless chair, as I am also considering buying one.
I am going down to Bognor in a couple of days and will see my brother Nick & Angela, which I am really looking forward to, I can't believe it's two years since they came to New Zealand.
In your blogs you mention people dropping in to see you, and I wish I could do just that, it would be good to sit and chat with you and Wendy and try and help you both through this awful time in your lives, but stay strong and remember you have a large family and friends who all love you and are willing you and trying to carry you through this dark time, and together we will all succeed.
Your Grandma Willsher sends all her love, I read your blogs to her over the phone, and you are both constantly in her thoughts and prayers.
All my love to you both. xxx
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!
Keep going mate - you may feel weak now but you'll be imeasurably stronger in the long run!!
Sorry you haven't heard from us since last week - I honestly don't know where the time goes - even though we didn't leave the house for 4 days!
Andi is doing OK - so much better than last time, Thank goodness! He's still really, really tired but hey, we can cope with that. The anti-sickness drugs they've got him on this time are definetely doing their stuff, so hopefully by the weekend, he should be feeling better still.
As you can imagine, we had an exceptionally quiet weekend - it was a long weekend for us as we had a public holiday yesterday (for the Queen's birthday would you believe? don't get that in the UK even!) As I said, we didn't make it out of the house from Thurs through Sun, so were both going a bit stir crazy by Monday, so Steve (who Andi works with at Tip-Top) popped in for tea & cake in the afternoon, so we had some much needed company!
I've been into work today - was on a training course all day (Situational Leadership, no less!) so Steve called in again at lunchtime, so Andi wasn't on his own all day. He is now saying he's bored but I think that is a good sign, as it means he's feeling better!!
Hopefully Andi will be up for some more visitors towards the end of the week and we're hoping to get to the movies at the weekend to see 'Shrek the Third'!
Anyway, its long past my bedtime, so best say bye for now.
Hey andi - I'm currently sitting in the lounge at Brisbane airport and catching up on your blog. I notice that you mention you're been having treatment at Mercy hospital! That's down my street! So i really should get my shit together next time and come and visit! I'll give you a call tomorrow to sort out a time to catch up - and take your drinks order!
take care and talk soon
Well, day one on the blog after round two of Chemo, slowly getting there, it's been quicker this time, but still just as hard, vision has been bad again, hence the first time typing since Chemo, been out on a couple of really short walks between the showers. The best bit is that I am now two thirds of the way though Chemo pre Op, then the Op will make it two thirds of the way to everything..I like thirds, they're so much bigger than halves at the moment!
The Oncologist has done an amazing job with my drugs this time and he's really controlled the nausea, made a massive difference, and the sleeping tablets have meant that I've almost slept as well - bonus. No more having to watch mindless TV at 3am, well, not too much anyway. We've also has a plan to stay in separate bedrooms, means we both get some sleep or some lack of sleep, without disturbing the other one, has worked so far, maybe back to normal for the weekend, we'll see.
Andy, Matt just informed me of your illness. Sorry to hear about it and wishing you all the best in your fight and recovery. You will have to let me have your phone numbers as the only e-mail I have is work.
All the best Chris
Andi, sorry to hear about your bad news, but Tom says you are doing fine under the circumstances, hope the treatment goes well, keep your chin up and look forward to seeing you when you grace the shores of good old blighty. Best Regards to both you and Wendy.
Saturday morning, 9th June, starting to feel "normal" again, whatever normal is at the moment. I still have the numbness in my hands and feet, so typing is a real challenge, keep hitting the wrong keys, so no change there then! Also stating to fancy food again....food has been a challenge, not really fancying anything, then being put off by the smell - Chemo really messes with your sense of smell, things you love, you all of a sudden can't stand, or the mere thought makes you feel sick. On top of that, only eating foods that I can actually swallow, mmmm...mealtimes have been somewhat eventful.
The trick was to snack rather than eat meals, but even to snack, you need to fancy food of some sort! I've been eating my porridge for breakfast, full of oaty, antioxidant goodness, and then not that much else, soups, toast, as long as I can make it "soggy" and pasta, had a really nice Thai Green Chicken Curry last night, mild, but found another dish I could easily swallow, wet rice...nice! looking forward to being able to eat after the Op, then there should be nothing in the way to stop the swallowing, roll on the roast beef, yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and roast vegs, cauliflower cheese, peas...mmmmm, I can taste it now. Visualisation is important, so why can't I visualise a roast dinner?
I had my three hour relaxation and meditation techniques session at the cancer society yesterday, thanks to work for arranging the taxi service, it's good to refocus and have a concentrated healing session for a while in a different environment, was pretty tired afterwards but still didn't sleep last night, guess my body is just over rest for a night, we'll see later, nana nap may be needed.
Sounds like a job for the "M Team"! I promise I'll cook roast beef and Yorkshire puddings for you, plus all the trimmings, whilst I am with you in August. Looking forward to seeing you both. Stay strong - kia kaha.
mmmmm Lyn that sounds great can you come back via Ireland and cook for me as well!
Hi You two.
Good to hear that the anti sickness drugs have done a better job this time. It's great to hear that you are both remaining positive and are meeting this thing head on! Why don't you cook up a nice roast and puree it!! Mmmmmm! Love to you both.
No need to puree anything!! Be serious...
I'll send some already pureed food from Heinz.
Thats enough of an excuse to take that job!!
At the nursing home I ended up chatting to one of the resident's visitors. One of the first things the gentleman said to me, as he was obviously pleased about it, was that he'd had bowel cancer and was now better. He had had many doses of chemo and then an operation to remove his whole bowel, then after more radiotherapy and chemo was better, apart from having to put cream up his bottom! He said the reason he was telling me this was that the doctors had told him to pass the word around that he is well and happy, and therefore push a positive side to the notion of cancer. He said he is very positive in life and happy.
Keep positive. Love Janice x
I know I know, Long time no write Work has been keeping me steadily busy to the point I haven't gotten much time to do anything but my real tasks. Nahi is working regularily with Freek on the new planning software so YEAH! Eventually our time will be freed up. Until then I am Nahi the great as well as Conni the awesome! And of course when I'm not working here I'm doing my other 90 hour a week job, music
I've gotten more crappy news about my own health again so maybe you could toss me a prayer or two this way. Aparently I have an extremely high Ferritin level which means my liver is swollen with an iron that my bodies not consuming like it should. I have to have more tests run and I have no idea yet what the overall meaning of this is.. I'll let you know more once I've seen the Doctor.
I'm glad to hear the doctors got your meds sussed out so you don't feel as bad as you did the first go round. I bet knowing a bit of what to expect helps in that respect too.
Believe me I know what you mean about senseless TV at 3 am. When I was off with my broken leg, my sleeping schedule was pretty off too and there's never anything on when you want something to watch or with Sky, it's the same thing day after day. I've got a crapload of Dvds.. Let me know if you want me to loan you some stuff to watch, I've got the whole Friends series.. I like that show because there was never any bad messages in any of the shows, and it's light hearted, easy to watch sensible comedy I've also got tons of other movies.. The Aviator, The Green Mile, All three Back to the Futures, Titanic, Dirty Dancing etc.. So just let me know and I'll ask Judith to send them to you....
2/3rds of the way!!! Wow thats gone by pretty quick... So it won't be too long before we get you back here There's a lot of people waiting for that to happen!!! You are truly missed around here.
Big Healing Hugs!!! and I'll try not to be such a stranger Hiya to you too Wendy!!!!!
I had a good talk with your father yesterday so my, and all the gang here, thoughts are with you.
When I had serious health problems almost 8 years ago it was the not being able to sleep that I had to get through which I am pleased to say eventually I did thanks to my wife and family.
Keep postitive, keep in touch
All the very best
Hi nephew and godson. Just been reading your (and Wendy's) blog and just to say keep strong. You are a fighter and a winner mate and so hang on in. I've always thought of you as a bit of an 'action man' and so keep it up.
Say hello to Wendy for me and will speak soon
It's only a week to go until we hit stage three of the Chemo, I've been to see the Oncologist again today as I have picked up a reaction in my arm to the Epirubicin, the really nasty one of the IV drugs, it's common to have a reaction in the vein as it's so strong, the veins go "twig like" - hard, but tender to touch and my forearm has become very painful and tender, all part of the fun....I've been put on a course on antibiotics to ensure that no infection can get a foothold on me, and the pain should be gone by the weekend, just in time for the blood samples on Monday and then the Chemo - in the other arm - on Wednesday. These tablets are even larger than the Chemo ones, real horse pills, great fun, I rattle every day at the moment, really looking forward to the end of the nine weeks on twice daily Chemo ones so that I can taste food normally once again, that'll make a nice change! you never know, I may even fancy coffee again.
You? off the coffee.. I simply can't picture it
And yeah I know what you mean about the tender veins.. I'm sending poor babies your way.... Are they unable to put a PIC line in so it's less painful (Into deeper veins/Less touchy nerves) or have they decided not to do it so you have more freedom?
I see you guys are going for some 5 star treatment... WOW !! I still haven't done that for myself...
Anyway big healing hugs and talk to you more soon!
Well, can you believe it, its 8 weeks since Andi's diagnosis - in some ways, it feels like the time has flown but in others, it feels like the longest 8 weeks ever! Still, we're getting there - hopefully round 3 will be a week today, then we're that much closer to surgery....
It's great to read all your comments, messages and e-mails - we're still taking so much strength from all your support - couldn't have got through the last 8 weeks without you and we'll definetely need you all to get through the next however many weeks.
We're both doing so much better this time around - Andi is sooooo much stronger & smilier! And I'm coping much better too. Obviously we both have our down days but that's only to be expected. However, it generally works out that someone will phone or an e-mail will appear or a letter will arrive, just at the right time to cheer us up a bit!
We've been able to have a more 'normal' week this week too - Andi has had 'Monday Club' with Charlie and Gavin has been round today to spend the day. I've been at work but have also been 'out to play'! Went to the movies on Monday night with my bookclub to see 'Becoming Jane' which was brilliant - all about the life of Jane Austen. Then tomorrow night, I'm off to the ballet 'Swan Lake' with my friend, Karla. I know, 2 outings in one week!
At the weekend, we're going to be meeting up with Stephen, Andi's cousin, who is en-route from England to Wellington, via Auckland - something of a theme going on here - meeting our rellies from Welly at Auckland airport! Then Saturday, we're treating ourselves to a night away - this time into the city for some 5* luxury at the Langham hotel. Relaxation will be followed by inspiration, as I'm going to hear the Dalai Lama speak on Sunday afternoon!
I know, I know, nothing for over a week, then a great long post! I'll stop for now & be in touch again soon.
love to you all
Has it really been 8 weeks? Blimey. It's gone so quick. Glad to hear you are starting to feel better Andi. What's all this talk of roast beef? What about a nice bacon sarnie? Surely you MUST fancy one of those?!? What would life be like without bacon? Unbearable! I'll blend one for you when you come to Welly. Stay positive, and get better soon!
Love and big sloppies from the 3 of us (especially Emily).
JJ, KJ & EJ
One of the joys of this thing seems to be a very disrupted sleep pattern, always useful! Not! So, at 0430 this morning I was awake, my mind racing with all the stuff going through it, and none of you in the UK online....why should you be at work when you could be chatting to me online?
We have SKY being installed on Tuesday, I always said I'd never pay Mr Murdoch all that cash, but needs must at the moment, and at least there's stuff on at 3am to watch, plus it'll all be well in time for the Rugby World Cup! and we decided that SKY here was still cheaper than just having a TV licence in the UK, you don't need one here, so it's all relevant to where you are and what you need at the time I suppose. I'm currently listening to Virgin Radio on line, still weird to listen to the Friday evening show and know we're already hearing the birds on Saturday morning.
My infection in my arm is still really painful, just one of those things, and the anti-biotics are really strong, strong enough to bring back the nausea, great! I may have Tuesday as a "normal" day before chemo starts again on the Wednesday, but I'll have to have it in the right arm, trying to avoid that as it makes everything harder for 7 hours to have to use the left for everything, but I can't risk the it getting any worse, then again, if the right reacts and I have two painful arms, that'll be nice!
At least, come Wednesday night, the last stage of the pre-op stuff is over, bring on the operation, I'm not looking forward to the time of being totally inactive, at least at the moment I get a few days of "normality" between low stages, being in hospital for two weeks, then having a long recovery, will be hard, not even being able to cycle around the bedroom, how will I cope? the "M" team will be here to help though. I'm told, by the surgeon, that they use physio extensively to speed up the recovery process, so I might at least get some light exercise of some sort through that.
We have Stephen coming over this morning, between flights. which will be great, we're cooking a good old English brekkie, I'm now starting to fancy food again, but eating anything but porridge and soup is so hard and slow that it gets tedious after a few minutes, never though I'd ever find eating tedious, even bacon sarnies! Just got to keep pushing through to avoid losing too much weight before the surgeon gets me!
You are on an uphill slog and unfortunately the wind is against you. Keep going, one push at a time. Eventually there will be a flat and then the long downhill stretch with the wind behind you. In 6 months time painful arms, nausea and sleepless nights will be a memory. At the moment this is a challenge you can work at so keep it going.
I have nothing to say really. A lot to feel. Impressed is how I currently feel. Impressed with your honesty towards the I and your will to beat it and Beat it you will my friend. Pride is what I will feel when you dive off Shadowfax for the first time after beating I. Keep at it Andy. Our courage in our good vibes that we all send is buoyed by your determination to utilise the good vibes that we are all sending. We are so close now to the 'midway' stage and our train of thought so focused that we can't fail to win.
One slightly depressing note for you though-Jill and I are likely to be in Auckland in the next few weeks so we'll definately give you a call. Fob us off if you like- I am a bit hyper :-)
I hope you both enjoyed your night of luxury -you certainly both deserve it!
Well if your appetite is coming back, how do you fancy a good old (calorie ridden)English dessert - its been a while since I used my dessert skills!!! A crumble, Trifle or bread & butter pudding would slip down quite nicely! Just let me know, and I'll get the apron on!
Sorry to hear the news - been catching up with events via the Blog (don't have them in Norfolk!)and glad to see things going reasonably well. All this talk about Roast Beef's making us hungry and the Bengal's gone on the prowl anticipating an early Sunday Lunch (don't have them in Norfolk!).
At Cricket today - will be waving to you if you're watching on Sky (don't have that in Norfolk either!.
Will be in touch Luv Sue & Philip + Cats (we do have them in Norfolk!)
hay andi - nell and i left an ode to andi post on our travel blog (http://theflashpackers.blogspot.com) - we hope you dont take offence at your new dive name. we're extremely proud of you and thinking of you loads. keep reading and writing and holding strong.
kia kaha andi.
Dude. Your positive attitude is simply awe inspiring.
Keep up the good work, like your friend Janice says, it will all be behind you soon. Then you'll be able to get some diving practice in before you do your IDC and IE to catch up with me and Colin... :-)
Just had the call from the Oncologist, my bloods are ok so we're all on for the third (and final, pre Op) round of Chemo on Wed.
There is just one issue, a blood count relating to my liver function is high, so he is going to not give me the Epirubicin this time around, there is no way to work out how much I can cope with as my count is so high, getting it wrong could result in liver issues and interfere with cardiac function....nice, he'd rather deliver me to the surgeon in good condition than risk delaying the surgery, as far as the drugs go, although it's a nasty one, it's the least important of the three and shouldn't make any difference to the control of the intruder! Glad he's taking that decision than risking heart issues, no amount of keeping fit will stop a drug messing it up for you.
The other bad news is that the pains in my arms may take up to a year to fully recover, oh well, a year of a painful arm is also worth it to ban the intruder from me.
So, I'll be in Mercy from about 1300 on Wed until about 1900, open for visits, just ask for the day ward where the chemo is carried out, just near reception at the main entrance (which is round the back on facing the road at the front)
Great news for Wednesday not surprised that you are having problems with your liver though!
We visited Bushmills distillery last week and I couldn't help but think that you would have to be stopped from diving head first into one of the large vats.
Keep smiling and enjoy SKY especially the world cup although I'm not sure about the Scots chances to be honest. I would swap over to the Kiwi's if I were you.
Could be worse fella, could be a pain in the ar$e :-)
Really pleased to hear that tomorrow is all go. Nearly a third of the way through! Keep smiling and we'll keep up our end by sending tonnes of positive vibes your way :o) Don't forget to call on us if you need anything at all. Us xx
Hey cuz and not forgetting the lovely Wendles, not sure where the last 3 weeks have gone, but no doubt you are now preparing yourselves for the next onslaught. So pleased this last round has proven to be more manageable than the 1st. You must be feeling a certain amount of relief that stage 1 is coming to a close. I can imagine that once you are both through this chapter of your lives, life's challenges will seem like a breeze in comparison. I am so pleased you have both managed to have some R&R living it up in your 5* luxury - hope it enabled you both to recharge a little. Sorry the arm is now giving your problems Andi, but hey, your attitude is just amazing - it sounds like you are doing your utmost to keep up that positive 'bring it on' attitude - go you!!
Right will be thinking of you both tomorrow and will catch up on the phone later in the week.
Love hugs and sloppies
Hmm Liver.. That would make sense... You've being heftied up with some pretty powerful stuff It does sound like from what you've said, that this Doctor of yours doesn't have the God complex and actually wants what's best for you! I like that in most of the NZ doctors.
I'm sorry to hear about the pains in your arms.... That sucks... but it is better than being told you have no chance of it ever going away. Whever I get crapo news I try to remember it could be worse than it is and hey, I can deal with this. When I broke my leg, not long after I heard about the poor guy who broke his too and one of our Fonterra trucks ran off the road and barreled into his house and broke his other leg for him too. That could have been me.. and with my damn accident proneness should have been hahah...
Nice to see we're invited to come see you. I will attempt to gather a ride tomorrow.
Good luck and I'm praying for you!
We're back home now having completed the final pre-surgery round of chemo - all went OK. Andi just had the one IV drug (Cisplatin) and he'll now continue to take the Xeloda tablets for another 2 weeks. He needs to wait a total of 3 weeks from today, then he goes for another CT scan on 9th July, we're back to see the oncologist on 11th July and we'll probably see the surgeon the following week. Need 4 weeks recovery after the end of this 3 week cycle, so that takes us to w/c 6th August for surgery - still need to wait to see the surgeon to set an actual date.
Will be in touch again tomorrow - keep those positive vibes coming.....
W & A
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Thinking of you guys, LoJoDa XXX
Hi Andi and Wendy
It was great to catch-up with you on Saturday. Thanks for the cooked breakfast......much appreciated after 24 hrs of flight back from the UK....great to see you wolfing that down Andi! Looking forward to seeing you down here in Wellington in a coupla weeks.....you should be ready by then for a bit of Harry, Max and Emily therapy.....great for raising the energy levels! Good to see you taking up the guitar Andi.....but I can tell you really want to be a drummer. I'll teach you some rock drum patterns when you're down here and you'll be hooked (and everyone knows the girls dig the drummer most!).
Keep your chins up guys.....we're praying for you heaps.
Loadsa love, Steve, Mandy, Harry and Max XXXX
So you are playing that pretty guitar... Awesome... Let me know when you're ready to open for us. And remember.. Drummers are a different breed.. Although I must say Ringo was a babe in his younger days ..
I was watching some relic Beatles Videos last night.. let me know if you'd like to see them... One is called the Oldest Recorded Beatles Video..... You can tell it is.. they looked like they were about 15...I've got quite a few music videos if you get bored.. let me know and I'll send you a musical care package..
Have an awesome weekend you two!!
And as always.. Healing Hugs sent your way!!
Pleased to see we've got this Blog entry stuff sussed! Glad to hear all the positive news - hope the guitar playing's coming on well - will get you into a duet with Sue on her Violin yet!!! Bengal on course of antibiotics to combat fake paw injury - he wants to know more about the roast beef subject!! Village now clear of rabbits, pheasants, moles & squirrels - we've had some great stews recently. A domestic weekend planned - gardening, cat flap replacement and new bathroom design. Sue's taking part in Race for Life in Peterborough this Wed evening whilst Philip will be supporting from the Bar - no change there!!! Thinking of you both. Take care Sue and Philip
Andi hasn't been as bad this time - he's really, really tired but hasn't been feeling as sick (due to only having one of the IV drugs, instead of the usual two). He managed to go into the Cancer Society on Friday to go to his last Relaxation & Meditation class, so that was a huge step, compared to previous rounds. He's pretty wiped out now and has slept for most of today but I guess that's the best thing for him right now.
At least we are now a third of the way through - next step is surgery which should be in about 7 weeks time. Andi will have another CT scan on 9th July, then we see the oncologist on 11th July and the surgeon the following week to set a date for surgery.
It feels like a really, really hard, uphill climb at the moment - the freewheeling downhill which we're looking forward to seems too far off at the moment.....
However, we've got the 'M team' arriving in a months time plus we're drawing on all your support out there to get us through this. Team Willsher will win this one! So please keep in touch and keep sending those positive vibes our way.
Yes you will win! I know it looks like such a huge battle right now, but there will come a day not long from now where all of you will look back and realize first of all, how strong you were and secondly, that it's really all complete. We never know what the journey will be that we're going to end up on and a lot of the time we don't get to find out why we were ever placed on that journey, but we do get to see how the journey affected us and how we dealt with the whole experience. You two are doing a great job keeping your chin high and riding this wave. Eventually the wave will die off and the boogie board you're on will land you on a nice sunny beach where life is once again peaceful. I can't see it being any other way!
Tons of healing hugs your way!!
Well, nowt much to report from here really - Andi is still pretty wiped out and is sleeping for most of each day. Best thing for him though.
However, he did manage an outing on Monday - Charlie took him to buy some drums!! Andi had started to learn the guitar but was finding it too difficult with his sore fingers at the moment and also, as he's suffering from 'chemo brain', he found once he got home, he couldn't remember what he'd been taught at his lesson! So, he traded in his guitar for a set of electronic drums!! I've already had a go & they are really cool! So watch this space!
I've been into work yesterday & today and been to Yoga tonight. I went to see a hypnotherapist yesterday which was really helpful - I felt so much more relaxed & lighter afterwards. I'm also going to have a Reiki treatment tomorrow - all part of my 'self-care' plan.
Please do get in touch to let us know your news - otherwise we start to feel a bit isolated - especially Andi who isn't really getting out of the house at the mo and also hasn't been up to visitors....hopefully that will change as this week goes on.
Will be in touch again soon - Bye for now
Wendy obviously I don't know you,last saw Andi too many years ago!!! But make sure you look after yourself as there will be people to look after Andi. Health Visitors always told me to look after myself or who else is going to look after the kids!! I check up on the blog every day after findng out about it and am thinking of you both. Keep enjoying the drums, looking at my CD collection reminds me me how much Andi introduced me to, the 80's have a lot to answer for!!!!!!!!!! Can't visit but good feelings sent your way.
How are the neighbours going to cope. I was saying to the wife, what the hell is that racket coming from around the corner. Now we know. Gives us a yell when you are up to having visitors
We've been to see Mike, our oncologist today, as Andi's hands were quite swollen & red, so we went to see Mike to get it checked out. Unfortunately it's due to the Xeloda tablets (one of the chemo drugs) and so Andi has to stop taking them a week early. Although not ideal, it is more important that Andi is in peak condition for surgery - Mike said that as an oncologist he knows his place and has to hand Andi over to the surgeon in a good state!
Thanks to all those of you who have been in touch today - great to hear from you all. By the way, for those with concerns for our neighbours re. the drums - they are electronic, so can be played whilst wearing headphones, so no neighbours will be harmed whilst we practice!
Bye for now
My first post for what seems like ages.....been a pretty hard time this one, painful hands and feet, everything tasting of metal, sleeping, loads, but I'm getting there in the end, Wendy's updates have been all the news really.
I find this stage really hard, conscious enough to be bored but not enough energy to do anything about it! I've been making more soup this morning, one of the few things I can swallow, even though it tastes like metal, today's was roast Pumpkin and red onion with leeks, got to keep the vege loading going. Hopefully, with the stopping of the Xeloda, it won't take that long to start to feel "normal" whatever that is anyway, and I maybe able to have a few decent days pre surgery to enjoy a little Winter sunshine and maybe even a coffee, who knows?
I have a drum lesson next week, something I can still do with sore fingers, never thought that this "entertain Andi" lark would be so fraught with fun and frolics.....
Glad to hear you have ordered some winter sunshine for my visit as there is precious little sunshine here and it's supposed to be summer! I hope you are fancying coffee by then too - I look forward to visiting a Robert Harris coffee shop with you! Longing to see you both - less then 4 weeks now! Keep making the soup; I look forward to tasting some of that too. Enjoy your drum lesson next week and stay strong my loves - you're doing really well and that light at the end of the tunnel is getting nearer every day.
We're just sitting down to watch All Blacks vs. the Ozzies - always interesting! Just gotta hope that the AB's win! Can't have those Ozzies winning!
We managed to go out last night - met Rose-Maree and Carl for dinner at a little Italian place in Kohi - yummy food and it was great to go out for the evening! Today we had a lazy morning - Andi especially as he stayed in bed! - I got some chores done and then went out to meet Rose-Maree for a cuppa (we haven't caught up for ages, then we managed to meet up 3 times this week!) and a mooch round the shops. It was great for me to have a 'normal' few hours - enjoying tea & cake & a bit of retail therapy!
Andi's doing a bit better - his hands & feet are still quite sore but he's been feeling a bit more human again. Unfortunately he's not enjoying his food at the moment, as well as being difficult to eat, none of it tastes right but at least we are heading towards the surgery now and he can look forward to eating his favourite foods again afterwards.
Michelle came round at about 5pm-ish and we had Bangers & mash for dinner (which luckily Andi managed to eat OK). Now its Rugby time....
Anyway, please keep all those positive vibes coming our way - be great to hear from you when you get the chance.
lots of love
Hi Andi & Wendy,
You are still in our thoughts and we enjoy reading your blog. We are glad to hear you are doing okay Andi and I can't wait to dive with you one day :D Although I'd be happy to wait until Summer as the water is BLOODY freezing at the moment!!!!! Anyway, you guys take care and we'll send you all the positive vibes that we can find! (which will be millions!) Lots of love DD (& Russ) xxxxxx
Well, we'll hit 11 weeks this Wednesday and things are quite tough at the mo. We feel like we're in limbo - chemo has finished and we're now just waiting for surgery. Andi is really fed up at the mo - fed up with the weather (we've had sooooo much rain!), fed up with not being able to eat, fed up with everything tasting metallic, fed up with being bored and not being able to do much.....
However, he has had a better day today - he's been over to see Charlie & Molly and has also had his first drum lesson! Tomorrow, Cameron (who runs the bike shop in Christchurch which Andi appears to be keeping in business single handedly!) is coming up to Auckland to visit one of his suppliers and is taking his Auckland advisor (aka Andi!) along too.
I've been into work today and have also been into see the counsellor at the Cancer Society again which was helpful. I'm booked on their caregivers course which starts next Thursday, so hopefully that will give me the chance to speak to others in the same situation.
We're both really looking forward to our trip to Welly to see the rellies next week! We fly down Thursday eve and come back Sunday eve - will be fantastic to have a real break and see everyone again.
Anyway, please do get in touch so we can try to raise Andi's spirits and stop him from thinking too much!! I know Andi would appreciate some visitors too, so feel free to give us a call and pop round (only healthy visitors though please!)
How was the drum lesson dude? Looking forward to sharing some grooves next week when you come down to Wellington. Harry is all ready to challenge you to some 'Need for Speed' on his Playstation and Max is looking forward to showing you his new bike (actually we pimped Harry's old bike for him.....being a little brother really sucks).
See ya, Steve, Mandy, Harry and Max
Gidday Andy - just checked in & good to see progress, best wishes mate
We're doing a bit better - Andi is a bit less fed up which is good (for both of us!) He had a great day with Cam on Tuesday - looking at bikes! - and for the last 2 days has been practising his drumming, practising his meditation and generally pottering about, doing e-mails, chatting, messenger-ing etc.
I've been into work all week and yesterday I had another session with the hypnotherapist I saw last week which was very helpful.
We've just booked ourselves another night away on Saturday - figured we needed some cheering up! So we're off to stay at the Hyatt in the city for some R&R!
Have also booked a flight for Andi to go down to Christchurch on 22nd - 24th July to stay with Cam - in Andi's words, will give him some different headspace.
So we're getting there - has felt a bit like we've been in limbo for the last couple of weeks but at least next week, we've got some other appointments: CAT scan on Monday and the oncologist on Weds.
Then on Thursday we're off to Welly to see the rellies! Yippee!
As always, keep those positive vibes coming!
Hi you two, glad to hear things are a bit better. Just countdown now to the big op, which I guess is what you have been looking forward to in a weird sort of way. I'm still sending Irish luck over the sea to help although it clearly didn't get as far as the NZ Americas Cup crew!!!
Take care, Tim.
Just had a call from Michael, the oncologist, re. Andi's CT scan which he had today - RESULTS ALL LOOK EXCELLENT!! There is no sign of any secondary tumour developments and although there is some scarring, that is to be expected from the chemo. Michael's words were 'Well done, excellent news!' We don't need to go & see Michael on Weds now, so next step is to see the surgeon on 20th. This has really boosted both of us!
W & A
Fantastic news; what a marvellous boost. The light at the end of the tunnel is certainly shining more brightly today!
Live strong - stay strong. I'll soon be there to give you all the hugs I am storing up!
Great news guys!!! You are getting closer and closer to O - day and then you have reached the middle way! Stay strong!
Well, yesterday bought the best news in a few weeks, as Wendy "blogged" That was a great relief, having had more difficulty swallowing in the past few days I was getting anxious over what the scan may show, no need, it must have been a combination of food types, scarring from the Chemo and inflammation from the Chemo, you'd be pretty inflamed if someone had doused you in poisons too I guess!
I'm feeling a lot more positive now, the past few days have been pretty low, still getting all the arm and vein pain from the chemo drugs, but now starting to be in limbo as we wait for the second phase that's the surgery. Now, knowing that I kicked arse in phase one, I feel heaps better, can't yet plan much as we are not sure on timescales, but feeling positive that what we are doing, and what I am going through, are working! Bring on the next phase and let's continue to kick it's arse, can't wait until I can get back in the water and dive next summer!
Was good to hear you on such a high last night(Tuesday morn). Glad that the results are so positive. Hope that the bloods are on the up too so that you are back on top form for 'O' day.
In response to your diving escapades next summer, lest you forget that you can hopefully practice your front crawl and back stroke in the soft fluffy BC powder before, just to get in training for the full under water experience. Or at the very least you can lie on your back and make snow angels for all your worth!!! ;-)
Stay strong, keep beating the hell out of those jam jar lids that you call a drum kit.
Catch you laters
Tom & Linz
P.S. Wendy, hope you did not work too hard in the office?!!
It was great having you down in Welly for the long weekend. I can't believe how good you look Andi, bearing in mind what you've been through.
Kirsty and I were talking last night. Should you ever need us, we are only a 7.5 hour drive (+ 3 speeding tickets) / plane ride away. Either of us can come up at short notice. Don't be afraid to ask, we want to help.
Take care the both of you.
Much love and big positive vibes.
Have only just read your blog, and great to hear the positve news, going forward. Your excursion down to Wellington will be a far happier occassion. You are most probably back by the time you read, but hey great news. We only have to beat the Aussies and it will continue the trend.
We went down to Wellington last Thursday and got back last night - had a great time (as always!) - it was so good for us both to have a break and a change of scenery. We know we've got lots of love & support from all the rellies in Welly!
We didn't make any plans - just took each day as it came. Kirsty was performing in a panto (Little Red Riding Hat - playing the lead role!) so we went along to watch on Friday. It was a really good show and entertaining to watch! Managed a short walk around Whitby lake Friday afternoon and another one along the Pautahanui inlet on Saturday morning. Although the weather was cold, the sun was out and it was a beautiful day! Saturday afternoon, we went over to Stephen & Mandy's and all spent the rest of the day and evening together. Sunday, we went into Wellington, walked along the harbour and had lunch out. It was great to see everyone again and we all had lots of laughs over the weekend - much needed at the moment!
I was back at work today and Andi met up with John and then Erin for a coffee. Tomorrow I've got Yoga, then on Weds eve I'm going to the theatre to see The Crucible. Thursday, Andi has another drum lesson and on Fri, we've got our appointment with the surgeon.
Be good to hear from you all when you get the chance....
Bye for now
Good on you guys. You sound like you had a blast. We managed a trip to the Knights today. 15m viz and 15 degrees. Not bad considering the recent bad weather.
Looking forward to hearing the positive response from the Surgeon tomorrow. We'll be thinking of you.
The surgeon's decision, or should that say incision?
Well, having just spent about 40 minutes typing up a blog update with today's news, sodding technology went and lost the lot â€“ so Iâ€™m typing this in â€œwordâ€ and then aiming to copy it across, as if there arenâ€™t enough issues to deal with, weâ€™ll blame that one on Bill Gates as well, just because we can!
Had a really good meeting with the surgeon today, I get admitted to Mercy hospital, Epsom, the one in NZ not Surrey, at 1600 on Wed 8th August, with â€œknife to skinâ€ time being 0830 on Thursday 9th. I get admitted the night before to meet the surgeon and the anaesthetist and get a tour of the facilities, see the ICU etc before getting a good nights sleep! Just quite how good, weâ€™ll see. He talked through the procedure in great detail, so if you donâ€™t want to know the gory bits, skip this section â€“ I have no issue talking about it, and Iâ€™m happy to write about it, not as though I have much choice really is it? He starts by opening my abdomen to get at the stomach and preps the area by separating the oesophagus from the stomach and doing what he needs to do there, inserting a feeding tube etc then he closes that bit, has a cup of tea and then opens up under my right arm, between my ribs, to work on the oesophagus, remove the affected tissues and then finally join the two bits together, then close the cut. It would appear that Iâ€™ll have more tubes than a DIY store for the first week, Iâ€™ll emerge from surgery with tubes for drugs, tubes for hydration and feeding, tubes for breathing, tubes for pain control (epidural, more parallels with pregnancy) tubes for draining stuff through, as well as bandages and pumps on my legs to control and clotting that may occur, despite all this, he says that they try and get me up and on my feet, and sitting in a chair by day two or three! Described in very simple terms, but Iâ€™m told that itâ€™s about as major as surgery can get and the biggest issue will be my mental strength to get through the pain and discomfort, if I can get through three more weeks of the â€œsoup dietâ€ I can get through anything! The biggest issue with the surgery is underlying medical conditions that the surgeon doesnâ€™t know about, and I donâ€™t fit that age group, being under 65 and young and fit, and the fact that the â€œjoinâ€ can leak, heâ€™s done over 100 of these and not had one â€œleakerâ€, hence being fed through a tube for the first week or so to avoid any pressure on the join, which is stapled and shrouded in plastic tubes to protect it â€“ nice! Shows how important it is for the surgeon to take his time and be careful, any leak can lead to serious infection, hence why they try and keep my in for a while to watch closely and then they also do more CT scans with more Barium meals to â€œseeâ€ whatâ€™s happening, more cheques to write to the Radiology dept. He also said the anaesthetist Iâ€™ve got is the best heâ€™s ever worked with in all of his 25 years of surgery, so the odds on as smooth a ride as possible are pretty good.
Iâ€™m only the second person the surgeon has seen that has had this new regime of the type of chemo Iâ€™ve had then surgery, then chemo, he said that they were very excited that they were on the verge of a medical breakthrough in cancer treatment by the way that the tumors were reacting to the regime and the tumor damage they had seen when they dissected the first removed tissues, if itâ€™s doing that to the main tumor, just think what itâ€™s doing to the outlying areas, were his words, and my timing for developing this couldnâ€™t have been better, apart from not having it at all that is.
So, all in all, itâ€™s looking as good as it can from here, I have to concentrate on staying fit and getting mentally ready for the surgery over the next two and a half weeks, as well as finding new soup recipes and other foods I can eat, then as soon as Iâ€™m back on solids I can eat again, he said that there will be some changes, smaller meals more regularly, so morning and afternoon tea will become meal times and breakfast, lunch and dinner will become small meal times, and that I wonâ€™t be able to eat as much and mustnâ€™t push myself at mealtimes, no more tying to fit in another piece of choc fudge cake, but, 3 to 6 months post surgery, Iâ€™ll be back out enjoying a meal at a restaurant as much as a normal person, maybe just starters/entrÃ©eâ€™s and then cheese and biscuits or dessert, so Iâ€™ll still be a cheap date!
Visiting hours in Mercy are 11am to 8pm, so no excuses, bring goodiesâ€¦â€¦
That's fantastic news Andi. Keep at those soups, keep the positive mental attitude and you'll be back in the water in no time mate.
Eeeeeeeeeewwwwwww...cheese and biscuits for dessert! What's wrong with a pavlova?
I know we'll be away when you go in to surgery, but Tara and I will be thinking of you. I will have a beer for you in London and Tara will have one in Paris.
Speaking of being away...
You're not going in to hospital till the 8th...
I know you have to prepare yourself and all...
But do you think you would be able to stand an hour or so in a pub with Tara and myself and a few friends on the 3rd?
OK I have no excuse for not writing sooner and I know it. Sorry mates. You two are always on my mind, rest assured! Been kinda crazy at work.... Crazy at home with the music and I'm finding time less of a vast commodity.
I see you guys carefully chose my Birthday as the removal date! Good on ya! Was an awesome day 37 years ago and I know it will be just as good this year for us both, just as it was for momma all those years ago! You get to beat this and I get to beat Diabetes for another B-day! What a day to celebrate! Next year we all should get together and throw one hell of a party! I know, you want a place suitable for wearing a diving suit... I'll see what the options are without making you look like your ready for halloween.
Now I'm not sure exactly where Mercy hospital is, but I'll figure that out and if I have to walk there, I'm going to come see you! I miss ya mate!
On the soup diet thing... You tell me what sorts you're allowed, and I'll bring you some awesome soups.. As I diet I am learning it's got nothing to do with the veggie I choose but more to do with the spices. You can flavour water to taste like a meal.... I know cuz I've been doing it
Great to hear things are on the up at the moment and you've now got a date in sight for the op. That would mean you'll be on the bike before you know it or back to the tri's! I'll be able to show you what $300 of swimming lessions gets you!
Thanks for the update Andi, details an' all, it means that we can be thinking of you by the minute... our thoughts are always with you & our positive vibes are travelling over in waves.
Sorry that half (well 2/3rds really) of us cannot be with you, the other 'alf (1/3rd) is on his way to NZ as I email :-)
Stay strong my friend, BIG HUGS to you & Wendy
Here's dreaming of the sunshine & the beach next year... (a little sunshine earlier 'ere might be nice, it's been pretty pants weather I can tell you!!!!)
Lynn & Adam X
Hi everyone; just to say how glad I am to be here with Andrew and Wendy. I had a good flight out from the UK via Hong Kong and arrived here Friday morning. It was SO good to see them; Andrew, despite all he has been through so far, is looking well. We are enjoying some time together and a period of "near normality" before he has the operation on the 9th August. It's winter here but it's amazing to see camellias and magnolias flowering in the gardens. It is not cold but can be very wet; this morning the road looked more like a river. I am staying in a very nice appartment just down the road from Andrew and Wendy's house and Wendy's Mum, Judy (the other half of the M Team) will be joining me there on Tuesday. Keep the comments coming in; they have given us all a great deal of support and comfort over the past weeks and we are going to need all the support and positive vibes you can manage over the coming weeks. On behalf of "Team Willsher" I'd like to thank you all.
So nice to know that you're (Lyn) out there giving Andi and Wendy all the love and attention they need at the moment. It's our wedding anniversary today and it doesn't seem a whole year ago that Andi was our best man! Love to you all. Andi will be much better if you bake him some of that lovely blueberry cake you made for us when we visited you in Scotland!
We'll be thinking of you all when we're wandering across Dartmoor today. Lots of Love 'the Kimber Team'!!
Thought it was about time I blogged again! Well, only a week to go til D-day (or O-day)....at least we now have the M team here to support us both. Steve has also been here since Sat but leaves tomorrow - I know Andi is gonna struggle to say good-bye but it's been great to see him and for Andi to have his support for the last few days. They've had some quality 'boy time' - lots of X-box and boy movies!
I've been going into work but had a day's leave yesterday and we all went out to Auckland museum. Andi & I have been over in Auckland for over 2 years and not made it there til now! It's huge with 3 floors of exhibits, plus a special Egypt exhibition which is on the moment. We started and finished with coffee in the cafe and spent the time in between wandering around - the girls in the Maori/Pacific island section, whilst the boys went to the War section and then we both ended up in the Natural History section, which was really well presented.
I'm off to my caregivers support group tomorrow - this is the 3rd and last group meeting but I think we're going to swap phone numbers so we can continue to meet up. It's been really helpful to chat to others in the same boat.
We're all (Andi & I and both the Mums) off up to Matakana on Friday - have booked a cottage for the weekend, so we can all have a break and a change of scenery. The cottage is on a farm, near the beach and down the road from the famous Matakana farmers market which is held every Saturday morning - so looking forward to investigating that, as well as the local pottery and the many cafes!
Anyway, am really tired, so I'm off to bed now but just wanted to mention that if anyone wants to visit Andi in Mercy hospital - if you can please give me a call first to check how things are going and we can also try to stagger the visitors, so everyone doesn't arrive at once! My cell phone number is 0211 429 340.
Please keep your positive vibes coming our way - we need all your support to get through this next step...
Kirsty and I have been thinking of you man. Less than 1 week to the removal of "all that is bad". It's all plain sailing after that. ++++ thoughts heading your way bro.
Well, my first blog for a few days, and the last for a while. The countdown to the Op is now in hours, not days! Not long until the â€œDFâ€ is removed for good. A major step in the fight against the intruder â€“ two thirds of the way there after the surgery, there may be some major recovery to get through, but at least the thing will have been removed and I will be able to look forward to eating some real food again, I used to like soup, but after seven weeks on the soup only diet, the appeal is wearing a bit thin. If I ever decide to open a soup kitchen, Iâ€™ll have recipes for the first few weeks with no repeats. I should have about a week on the â€œfeeding through tubesâ€ diet and then I can start on soft solids, hopefully, well, good filet steak is soft isnâ€™t it? At least things like pasta in sauce and cauliflower cheese are more interesting than more soup. With the recovery period before the next round of chemo being about 8 to 12 weeks, I will hopefully have some time to eat real food again, and taste it, before the chemo robs me of my taste buds again. Knowing me only too well, one of my friends had arranged for some vouchers for the spit roast meat restaurant in town, thanks Paul, Iâ€™ll buy the wine in Canada!
It was great having Stephen out for the past few days, got to spend some time just relaxing, having great chats and talking about stuff other than cancer and surgery, words just canâ€™t describe how much that means to me mate, hereâ€™s looking forward to swimming with the fishes in the sun and hot water next year.
Iâ€™m not too worried about the actual surgery, there is certainly some trepidation over handing someone else full control of â€œmeâ€ for 6 to 8 hours, but the more scary part is the multitude of tubes and needles that will be emerging from various parts of my body when I wake up, including, apparently, a morphine epidural, nice! And the length of the potential recovery period is also a bit scary, as well as how easy it will be to move my arms, shoulders, bend over etc, as someone who normally has loads of movement, I think that will be painful for a while. As for the actual surgery, Iâ€™ve had it all explained in great detail and Iâ€™ll sleep through it all anyhow, waking up in ICU will be a bit scary too, as well as spending a couple of weeks away from all my toys, donâ€™t think theyâ€™ll let me take my drum kit to the hospital.
So, thatâ€™s about it for a while, Iâ€™m sure that Wendy and Mum will add stuff to the blog whilst I canâ€™t, please keep the comments coming back, Wendy reads them all out to me and will be bringing print outs to the hospital for me, so donâ€™t be shy people. Talk to you all soon.
We have been following events on your website and are sure your extremely positive attitude will win through. You seem to be getting the best of treatment both medically and from your family. Hoping everything goes well in the operation and afterwards. We are thinking of you.
Our very best wishes, Rod, Sandra, Melanie and James
Well here goes, time to kick this thing into touch. Best of luck mate
Tim & Elaine
Thinking of you mate, chat up a nurse for me! (tall, slim, blonde female, age approx thirty, good sense of humour and no baggage). Speedy recovery for those black runs waiting for us to hutle down! and for me to be dragged up the button lifts!. Just focus on of all the good snowboarding times we've had and lets look forward to the next trip, our 10th Anniversary!.
Take care mate, will be in touch.
James & family
20th April was the date of your first posting, and now the time has come. This thing inside you has been attacked from all angles by sisplatin and other weird concoctions, and in just a few hours the men in white coats will remove it altogether.
The next couple of weeks will not be pleasant, I'm sure, but things will get better as each day passes. The thought of that fillet steak on the horizon can only help the process!
Everyone here is thinking of you, and we look forward to talking to you when you're up and about.
James and Janice
Thinking of you guys - Pleasant dreams Andi - think steak egg and chips, roast dinner and bacon butty (not to be eaten all at once though!)
Hey you guys
The wait is finally over and at last you can re-commence the journey. Remember as daunting and scary as the thought of those tubes and needles must seem, they are there to help you and aid in your recovery. Now you need to have faith in your own strength to make the recovery time as manageable and bearable as possible.
Go with the flow Andi, let the power of your mind re-affirm to you how strong your body is and it's ability to heal itself. Remember the presence of those needles and tubes are just an inconvenience but a necessary part of the procedure. Try if you can, to adopt some of those relaxation techniques you have learnt whilst in hospital. Of course you will be uncomfortable - however, you have already experienced pain and discomfort - just a different sort and you've come through it - because you have no choice and that's the hard part, it's how you get through it that's important. Don't despair my wonderful family, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Lots of love to you both, we will be thinking of you over these next few days, be strong.
With love and huge hugs
Kirsty, John and Emily
Blimey mate... what're you gonna do while you've not got your drums to play with? Pay for the internet access in the hozzy & surf the net all the time, looking for new toys.. that's what!
Take care old son, and don't give the nurses too much to worry about... that's an order.
Lots of love,
Mike & Caroline (plus menagerie)
Thinking of you lots today. Thoughts and prayers are with you.
This is an update from Lyn who has just returned to the apartment having left Andrew to try and settle down for the night.
He is in the Room 58, Stella Maris ward of Mercy Hospital. He has had all the necessary tests and is all set to get rid of the invader once and for all first thing Thursday morning. To minimise telephone calls to the hospital Lyn will keep me up to date with progress and I will post here immediately I hear from her so before thinking of telephoning the hospital yourselves I suggest you check this blog for the latest information.
Wendy and Lyn are going to the hospital at 07.00 to see him before he goes to surgery. Lyn will telephone me as soon as we get the next news. We are told that the plan is for him to stay in the Intensive Care Unit until Saturday morning so he has "one to one" care. His anaesthetist is from St James' Hospital in Leeds and his nurse is from Manchester so he'll be feeling quite at home!
As soon as Andrew is feeling up to calls and/or visits we will post that information here. If you are planning to visit, and I am sure he will be very keen to see friendly faces as soon as he is feeling up to it, just a reminder to check with Wendy first so she can space visits out and avoid him being mobbed!
Feel free to post messages and comments at any time and we'll make sure they get passed on to Andrew.
Details of the hospital can be found at: www.mercy.co.nz
Good luck Andi - Russ and I are thinking of you this morning and we look forward to reading your next message post op.
Lots of love xxxxx
Thanks Chris, thinking of you all very much. Had a chat with Andi the night before admission and he was in a good frame of mind. As I write, he will probably be on his way to theatre - we all need to be strong for him now. x
God Bless! Let me know when it's ok to visit!
By my reckoning it's about midday there now. That means your past the halfway point mate. What tried to beat you has now made you stronger! Your on the run home. God bless you good friend and here is to next year.
If you need me there again..... just ask!!
Steve & Lynn xx
Our thoughts are with you today. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. Take care and see you soon.
Just wanted to say thinking of you all today - sending positive energy your way - love to all
- here's hoping for an easy ride xx
Following on from Stuvv's comments...
Stuvv can only go if I'm allowed this time!!!! Only kidding... ish ;-)) but on a serious note, well done Andi for keeping your sense of humour throughout & it's good to hear that it's still there, even after this huge operation. You are an inspiration certainly to me, I've been in an operating theatre once & that was minor compared to what you've gone through. Keep strong, both of you & thanks very much to you all for keeping us updated... it means a lot when you've enough to deal with. Sending much love from across the waters. Lynn X
GOOD NEWS - Andi's surgery is all done and it was very successful!
We've just got back from the hospital and both the surgeon (John) and the anaesthetist (Yatin) are very pleased. John completed the surgery in about 6 hours, so we got a phone-call about 2.15pm this afternoon to say it was done and had been successful. Lyn & I were able to see Andi at about 5pm tonight after he was brought from recovery into ICU. He was pretty groggy initially (as you would expect) but by the time we left him at about 6.10pm, he was a bit more chatty and had got his sense of humour back! He will be in ICU til Sat morning - means he can have 1 on 1 nursing and he'll be monitored hourly. We'll get a chance to speak to both John & Yatin again tomorrow, when we're all able to take things in a bit more.
Thanks for all your positive vibes and all the phone-calls, e-mails, texts & messages that have been coming through - do please keep them all coming and we'll update you on here & by e-mail as soon as we can.
Bye for now
Great news. Give Andrew my best. Can't promise me getting up to see him in hospital, but am sure he will have enough visitors to keep him busy. Will catch up with him when he comes home.
Go the Andi!
You're the bestest and the strongest of us all.
This has been the longest day of our lives but there is good news at the end of it. You will have seen Wendy's message so will know that the operation was successful. I am so full of love for our son and I am also full of admiration for the strength of spirit and determination he has shown and, I know, will continue to show as he starts along the road to recovery.
Thank you everybody, both family and friends alike, who have been in contact with Andrew over the last couple of days with messages of support; I know it has meant a great deal to Andrew and I am very grateful for that.
When Wendy and I left Andrew this evening the anaesthetic was wearing off and his sense of humour was returning - he said he could murder a beer and would visualise a Guinness! He is in very good caring hands in Mercy with constant monitoring.
Keep those messages of support and love coming - it's still a long road ahead but the light at the end of that tunnel is definitely burning more brightly tonight. Thank you all again. Lyn
Fantastic news all round. So pleased for everyone concerned, especially Andi (obviously). Hey chap I remember coming out of anesthetic and saying the same thing, but someone told me I wasn't allowed ..... lol. Keep getting well mate & all the best
Great news, I'm up for a guinness or two. see you next week
Andi - great to hear the op went well and you're on the final straight to recovery. Won't be long until you're big on the bike and ready for the summer months! Let us know when on the blog when you're okay to have visitors and I'll pop into see ya.
Andi is doing really well and considering what he's been through in the last 24 hours, he's remarkably chatty. John & Yatin have been to see him today and are pleased with his progress. His pain is mostly under control, apart from some pain in his right shoulder, which is referred pain from the surgery. This should ease in a day or so.
Andi is still in ICU but should be moved back to his room on the ward tomorrow. Lyn & I have been in to see him today and he was chatty, although obviously still quite sleepy. I took in print-outs of all the e-mails & postings on the blog and read them out to Andi and passed on the other phone messages & text messages.
John, the surgeon said it was the best surgery of this kind he's ever done - so you can't ask for more than that!
Anyway, will update you all again tomorrow.
At last after all these months of worry the Great news that we have all been waiting for - England can score tries after all. Glad everything has gone well, stage 2 out of the way. All the Best Tim & Elaine.
We've just returned from visiting Andi who is now back in his room - he was moved down from ICU at about 2.30pm. He had a pretty rough night as he was in quite a lot of pain but Yatin saw him this morning and gave him some more pain relief, which has made him a lot more comfortable. However, it also made Andi very sleepy and he was quite spaced out, so we only stayed with him for about an hour and we then left him to sleep, with the radio on quietly in his room.
The nurse looking after Andi said he's still doing well and his obs (they monitor everything every 2 hours) were all fine. Hopefully he'll have a better night tonight and be a bit brighter when we see him tomorrow.
How he is feeling now is normal and only to be expected - apparently after surgery, the patient is always pretty high and then obviously all the pain kicks in, after all the body has been put through a huge trauma! I took all the e-mails and blog postings in again though and read them to Andi and we updated him on all the text & phone messages. We also took his photo board in and arranged the flowers which my team at Cerebos kindly had delivered yesterday, so once he's more with it, he'll have some things to look at.
We'll let you all know as soon as he's up to visitors â€“ I'm sure he'll soon get sick of our 3 faces and be grateful to see some new ones!
Keep all those positive recovery vibes on their way to Mercy hospital and we'll be in touch again soon.
Thinking of you guys and sending lots of love and thoughts. So glad to hear that you are doing well Andi and looking forward to seeing you. Back in NZ in a week so look out. I will be visiting you in my brightest pink shirt !!We all send love Andrew, Susie, Alexandra and Livvie.
Hi All, Thinking of you all the time. Things are definately 'on the up' now! Wish we could come and visit but unfortunately too many miles between us!! Keep smiling.
Love Linz, Tom and Willow x x x x
Hang in there Andi, with each day that passes, the pain will become less and you will be a day closer to that steak sandwich!
Lots of love and hugs
The J Team!
Well, both John & Yatin are still pleased with Andi's progress but he is having a pretty tough time of it at the moment. He has developed a chest infection (apparently quite normal and he is already on antiobiotics which are continuing) but we met John this morning when we arrived to visit Andi and he did explain that he is not worried by this and that Andi is still progressing well.
They seem to have got the pain under control now although they have upped the doses significantly which has left Andi very sleepy and quite spaced out. Although he knew we were there today, he was drifting in & out of sleep and it's obviously very distressing to see him so poorly but we have to keep reminding ourselves that it's still very early days, after all the surgery was only 3 days ago. Also, both John & Yatin are not worried about anything and consider Andi to be making good progress in his recovery.
We sat with him for about an hour today but he wasn't really up to anything more. We'll phone the hospital again tonight to see how he's doing and go in again tomorrow when hopefuly he will have improved a little bit.
All the medical staff keep telling us that this is the worst bit and he will soon be more alert. It's just so hard to see him like this....
Keep those vibes coming our way - we've told Andi he has to drawn on everyone's strength & support to get him through this bit.
As you will understand, he's not upto visitors yet, but we will let you know just as soon as he is!
Bye for now
Positive vibes still coming your way thick and fast Andi!!!
Andi is still progressing well and we have been able to see an improvement (albeit a very small one) today. Both John & Yatin have been into see him and are pleased with his progress and the nurses have got Andi out of bed for a walk along the corridor and then into a chair! Apparently he did really well with his walk and the physio also did some work with Andi on his deep breathing. He was also able to sip some water today, so quite a lot of progress! However, after such a busy day, the poor guy was absolutely shattered! We sat with him for an hour or so at a time and popped out for a sandwich and then for a cuppa later on, in order to leave him to sleep.
Andi's still very sleepy but slightly less spaced out as they've changed some of his pain control drugs. He's been suffering from nausea, so is on some anti-nausea medication too. After all that he's been through, he's doing amazingly well.
Andi also had a delivery today - a lovely 'Don't worry, Be Happy' smiley face helium balloon! Thanks so much, Tom & Linz - what a great idea! Thanks also to the guys at Tip Top for the beautiful bunch of flowers which was delivered to us today :-)
Thanks to everyone who has been in touch too - it helps more than you know to have all your support!
Bye for now - will update you again tomorrow
Thinking of you daily, keep strong, you can get through this.
Andi is still doing really well - the physio got him up for a walk from his room, down the corridor and back again and he then sat in the chair for about 45 minutes - so he did brilliantly! Yatin has removed his epidural but Andi still has morphine on demand, so his pain is pretty much under control. Unfortunately Andi still has a bad cough which is very painful for him. However, John & Yatin and all the nurses are very pleased with his progress and today, he's been able to drink a lot of water. He was also a lot more alert - very sleepy but not as spaced out as he was. I'm still printing off all your e-mails and blog messages to read them out to Andi and I've been passing on all your texts, so please keep them all coming our way!
Bye for now
It's been really hard to see Andrew in such discomfort and with all his tubes and drains but we are seeing small signs of progress every day. Yesterday he was allowed sips of water and today he has been drinking water much more freely; he could have had some clear chicken soup for supper but he preferred water!
Also today he has had a few of the clamps removed from one of his wounds and his epidural line has been removed. Amazingly he has walked the length of the corridor assisted by his physiotherapist and spent some time sitting in a chair.
He was not so "spaced out" today and was able to have some conversations albeit short with us. Everyone at the hospital is really pleased with his progress which is really good news. They might only seem small steps but to me they are huge strides and so good to see.
Last night Andrew's feeding tube became blocked and although the nurse tried several times she was unable to clear it but a different member of staff managed to clear it this morning. Apparently they used Coca Cola and Ginger Beer to clear it! Something to do with the fizz?
Andrew has had flowers and good luck messages from work colleagues at Tip Top. The smiley balloon from Tom and Linz brought a smile to his face. He looks forward to spending the vouchers from Scotty on a steak in the not too distant future.
Glad to see that the worst seems to be passed.
Enjoy sitting in your chair as I gather that Wendy has a heap of jobs for you to do when you get home so make the most of it.
The Guiness is still chilling and waiting for you - Elaine has borrowed a bar from work so I just need someone to help me get through the barrel.
Tim & Elaine
Andi - see I told you Coca Cola was good for you!
Champagne has fizz too!!!! Maybe suggest they use that if it becomes blocked again?!
Wow! Andi looked soooo much better today - we walked into his room this morning and he looked amazing. He's had all the tubes taken out, apart from one drain, his main line in his neck and his feeding tube and he wasn't connected to any IV. The tube in his nose had been taken out and he'd had a shave (so was minus his designer stubble!) and looked great! It was such a relief to see him looking so good, especially as it was a huge improvement from yesterday. He was a lot more alert today and able to chat normally - he's still on morphine but as tablets and is not spaced out anymore.
Andi had 3 walks along the corridor today and did some more physio. Plus he got to eat some stewed apple & ice-cream, along with some fruit juice and Complan!
So all in all a great day!
We've been taking some photos during the last week and James (Andi's brother) has uploaded them onto the gallery on Andi's website, here is the link: http://www.andiwillsher.co.uk/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=7
I'm going to try popping into work tomorrow, then I'm going to my Caregivers support group, so Lyn is venturing in on the bus to see Andi in the morning and Mum and I will be going in at lunchtime. Will update you all again then.
Thanks so much for all your positive, healing, recovery vibes - do please keep them coming Andi's way!
Gotta be better than complan....!
Makes 1 large glass.
1 large ripe pear
150/1/4 pint natural (plain) yogurt
15ml/1tbsp linseeds (flax seeds)
10ml/2tsp lemon juice
mineral water (optional)
1) Roughly chop the watercress (you do not need to remove the stalks). Peel, core and roughly chop the pear.
2) Put the watercress and pear in a blender or food processor with the wheatgerm and blend until smooth. Scrape the mixture down from the side of the bowl if necessary.
3) Add the yogurt, seeds and lemon juice and blend until evenly combined. Thin with a little mineral water if the mixture is too think and pour over ice cubes. Decorate with watercress.
Bloody hell mate, you've gotta get me the phone number of that funny lookin' bald chick in the white tights! :o) Glad you're feeling better laddie... Keep up the good work, and don't forget to save all the spare pills for me ;o)
Lots of love & kisses,
Mike & Caz xxxxx
Spoke to Charley and he said that you were doing well considering you're now sponsored by YKK zips!!!!!
Still I guess that you can win the 'my scars better' competion in the pub. Glad your getting up and active and get yourself sorted with that complan!!! thats not good.. your not old enough...
Spoken to Jimmy to pass on the latest news and he's questioned where his nurse is?
Catch up with you when your ready or home or something.
Hey Andi, I'm so happy to hear you are feeling better. I checked out the pics, quite scary with all the tubes in. Your improvement over the last 3 days has been amazing, you can see it in the photo's.
Hope you get many bed baths from 150KG camp hairy male nurses...
Love and sloppies (from the pink midget)
J K E and ?
Great to hear you are doing better Andi!!
Just a quick note to say that I hope the ice cream they are giving you is Tip Top, any thing else is just not good enough!!
Well, things are getting better-er and better-er for Andi! He's now had his main line taken out of his neck and today he's eaten some proper food: chicken, mashed potato & gravy for dinner!
Lyn went in on the bus and was with Andi this morning, whilst I popped into work to catch up with the team and then met up with some of my caregivers group, before heading into the hospital at lunchtime.
It was great to see Andi still looking really good - now minus his main line - and he had a few walks along the corridor and came down to sit with us in the day room for a while this afternoon. We left him at about 6.30pm to have a well earned rest.
Andi's still got a cough which is painful but otherwise his pain is under control, although his wound in his ribs is giving him some grief.
Still, he's made huge progress considering its only a week since his surgery!
Andi's had another good day, although he had a very bad night last night - it looks like that when Andi's IV painkillers were stopped, he wasn't then given the equivalent orally....so unfortunately Andi was in quite a lot of pain last night and his cough was also troubling him. However, as soon as John Windsor arrived this morning, he sorted out the drugs for Andi!
There is just Andi's feeding tube left to be removed now...all of his staples have been removed from his abdominal wound and half of them have been removed from his chest wound - both look very neat & are healing well.
Andi's also going well with eating and tucked into 3 meals again today - Macaroni Cheese for dinner!
I popped into work this morning and Lyn went in again on the bus. I also went in to the Cancer Society to see my counsellor this afternoon.
Andi had some more strolls along the corridor, did his breathing exercises and also some new stretching exercises from the physio, who is very impressed with his progress - as of course, are we all!
John & Lezel from Tip Top came in to visit this afternoon and as we left, Charlie arrived. Since Andi is now up to some visitors, please do give me a call or a text on my mobile (0211 429 340) if you would like to call in and see Andi over the weekend - I know he'd love to see some new faces, just need to make sure everyone doesn't arrive at the same time!
Thanks once again for all the messages you've sent us - please do keep them coming!
Bye for now
This is very advanced stuff for me, but I just want you both to know that I am thinking of you. Each of you has a battle on your hands, with your mutual support I know you will win. It is not easy being the patient, but I also know from bitter experience being the spouse and carer is equally ,though very definately differently difficult. It is hard to put the care of someone you love in the hands of others.You are both stronge and are surounded by people who love you,I know you'll both soon be back on top form, doing all the things you love. Take care, hope to see you both soon love Gill. xx
Andi is now 100% Andi! His last tube (his feeding tube) was removed today! He's been doing really well with eating 3 meals a day, plus morning and afternoon tea and tomorrow he can move onto the normal menu, as he's been on the light diet menu until now.
So Andi is still doing amazingly well and making great progress. John Windsor wants to have another chest X-ray done to check on Andi's chest infection, which is causing him some discomfort at the moment but hopefully Andi should be able to come home early next week so that will be fab!
Andi's had some other visitors today: Steve, from Tip Top came in and then Pete (a diving buddy) popped in with his little daughter (who kept us all entertained!) and also brought in a fantastic photo he had taken of HMS Waikato, which is a wreck sunk just off Tutukaka (Thanks very much mate - will get that framed!). We've got some other visitors lined up for tomorrow, so at least Andi will get to see some different faces and catch up on their news.
Anyway, dinner is nearly ready (its fantastic having meals cooked by the M team!) so I'll say Bye for now.
Please keep all those healing vibes heading Andi's way.
Having just come back from holiday it's been fantastic to get to a PC at last and check on your progress.
What a journey!!!!!
Your letter and disks arrived and then I checked on this. Man you're an inspiration. I'm so proud that you're such a good friend and it was fab to hear that you ate some food. It's truely amazing.
I can wait to find out that you're home and have a good chat!!
God speed your recovery and heal that chest infection...
All our love
Stuvv and Lynn
Andi's had another good day - and also a very busy one - with lots of visitors! Justin (ex Tip-Top) & Tim (from Tip Top) came to see Andi, then our friend, Michelle called in. Later on, Caroline (from Cerebos) and Charlie visited too.
Anyway, Andi is still doing really well and may be able to come home tomorrow - so watch this space!
Bye for now
As promised, Greg has been shown the "presentation" of photos.... Not sure if its had the desired STOP SMOKING effect, but certainly an eye opener!! Fantastic to see you in such fine form today Andi, what a superlative effect you are making of "get well soon". Hope to see you again soon. Keep WW away from those choccies!!! Lots of Love and Best Wishes, Caroline & Greg.
Wow! Andi has done brilliantly and now at day 11, he's home! He phoned this morning to say he'd been released and Lyn and I went in at about 10.30am and brought him home! He's really tired and still pretty uncomfortable but at least he can now chill out at home in his (v.comfortable!) stressless chair!
I'm sure he'll be able to blog again before too long and in the meantime, I'm continuing to read out all the messages and e-mails, so please keep them coming.
Thanks for all your support to help Andi get this far - please keep all those positive, healing vibes winging his way!
Bye for now
Great to hear you are home although understandably rather tired. Also good to hear that your taste for food is returning. I understand that your stomach is now about half the size it was. There are people over here paying thousands of pounds to have their stomachs stapled up so that they are forced to eat less to lose weight! You'll need to concentrate on quality and not quantity in future. Absolutely the very best of everything.
You might be feeling a bit rough for a while and very sore but as I see it from here the end of this road is now very firmly in view. Should be all downhill from now on. We are very proud of what you have achieved coming this far. Stay strong for the last few hurdles.
This is wonderful news. No point waffling on....
Good to hear things are going well. We have kept some barcodes with your name on them Lyn!!
Best Wishes from all the staff at Vane xx
That's just awesome dood.
It takes me longer to recover from a cold!!!
Jill and I sending healing vibes
Welcome home mate.
Tim & Elaine
You might struggle to remember me - Frome canoe club. I was chatting to Kris and I asked of you and was so shocked. Good to hear your doing well Andi. I had a sample of it three years ago and in a way I think you'll come out of this a better person it will change your perspective of life (although I think you were on the way already. You've got the right attitude and I'm sure you'll be fine. It's worse for those close to you - all that stress. Anyway best wishes and good luck for the future for both of you. Keep blogging!
Hello again - sorry we haven't posted anything this week - Andi is still making really good progress but is extremely tired and has also been really low. Obviously to be expected and we're doing our best to keep his spirits up but it has been a really tough week for him.
We went to see John, the surgeon again yesterday and he was pleased with Andi's progress. He also discussed the path lab results with us - the results show that the sample taken from around the join tested positive, as did 17 of the 43 lymph nodes which John removed. John explained, that this is pretty much what he expected and although not the best result, it is not the worst and everything is still curable. Basically, Andi will now need radiotherapy as well as chemo. The radiotherapy will be targeted to the exact point of the join to tackle that area (the join can easily be identified due to the staple that holds the join in place) and any other affected lymph nodes will be dealt with by chemo, as was the original plan. So we are not any worse off, just that there will now be additional treatment in the form of radiotherapy.
We are determined to focus on the positives and we WILL STILL BEAT THIS!
As we said, Andi could do with a bit of cheering up at the mo, so please do keep in touch and for all those fellow NZ-ers, Andi could do with a few visitors now (if we can please do the same as before and if you can please call me on my mobile 0211 429 340 to check on timings).
We both really appreciate all your support - we couldn't have got this far without you all and we now need to draw on all that strength to continue getting Andi better.
Hey Andi, I was just thinking about what I said yesterday and I don't think I was very tactful. Of course there's not much worse than what you've been and what you're going through. With my experience (and not in your league) you find yourself the centre of attraction and rightly so. But your loved ones really suffer too. When I got it I thought - so much for a healthy lifestyle! You look around at the lardasses and layabouts and think why me? Soon passes though. The positives are that you don't realise just how many people really care about you and keep asking how you are and rally round. Anyway keep your spirits up you'll have a few shit days but at least you are in a beautifull country. Can't be as depressing as this hell hole we live in. I don't buy the papers - too depressing. Bowyers are in trouble, looks like they will be gone soon. So a good move there! I see you're a pilot now, brilliant!
Your one of the few people who actually achieve. Anyway must get on, all the best Dave.
PS. I've never met Wendy but looks like you picked a good'un there.
On the above note Andi and Wendy, I'm not going to pretend I have a clue what you're both actually going through. I don't. I've got my own world that allows me to empathise however and I know it's not a fun place to be in and I still pray for you both! Wendy, you needn't apologize for not writing lately. If anyone knew what life was really like for you, I think they'd totally understand that leaving a message online to the world sometimes becomes less important than dealing with the things that matter in real life. We should all be apologizing for not doing more than we are. You both deserve a trophy for what you've endured already. My hat goes off to you both.
I see there's some more speed bumps in the road. I know you two will band together and anhilate the bumps. Look where you've been already. It proves you're both a lot stronger than I bet either of you knew you were.
Here's an affirmation for you both. "I can choose happiness whenever I wish no matter what my circumstances."
It sounds like a hard one but It's true. There's a little commercial I've seen many times now that is a little kid telling this awesome story about playing ball with his friends and how far he's kicked the ball and how he is a winner. Then the announcer comes on and says (Can't remember the kids name ) Billy can't walk, He's in a wheelchair. This is all from his imagination. I know that wasn't the intention of the commercial, but it shows that yes indeed we can choose where we will be in our heads!
You're both in my heart and on my mind. I will not cease praying for you both and the people who are affected by this.
I will call you in the next few days for an appropriate time to come visit. I don't want to be a hinderance though so if you aren't able to handle visitors please be honest and let me know. I can wait and my feelings aren't hurt. You both are important more so than any of the rest of us and you need to take care of you first!
God bless you both and your families as well!
I would like to thank all of you for your messages of support. I am glad I have been able to be here to help Andrew on this journey but it has been hard to see him so debilitated. Yes, Conni, you are right there are a couple more speed bumps on the road but Andrew will indeed, with everyone's support, anhiliate them. All the positive vibes bring strength and determination. This WILL be beaten!! Stay strong!
Sorry its been a little while since our last posting - I know some people were worried by the lack of updates last time but we're still doing OK!
Andi has had a mixed week - Tuesday, he had severe pain in his ribs and had to go back onto his morphine tablets but Wednesday he was a lot better and managed three visitors (John from Tip Top, Christine Flynn and Natasha from Tip Top) so that was great.
We're just taking each day at a time at the mo - baby steps...
Need to say a HUGE Thank you to all the guys at Tip Top (and an extra Thanks to Lezel who I suspect did the organising!) for the delivery we had this arvo - a v.cool green Octopus helium filled balloon (check out the gallery later for a piccie!) which raised a big smile from Andi and a voucher for us to have a night away at the Hilton hotel in the viaduct! Wow, you guys, that's amazing - THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!
Will be in touch again soon - please keep all those healing, positive vibes heading for Andi!
Wonderful to talk to you this evening Wendy. You are amazing......you sounded so bright considering it's late on a Friday evening and you must be knackered. Glad you're able to make the most of the M-Team......although I'm not so sure about the roast dinner on a Fri night.......don't they know we eat fush and chups on Fridays in NZ????
Spoke to Mum and Dad and Grandma this evening as well. They all send their LOVE and best wishes.
Hang in there guys. Be strong. I'll give you a call again soon.
Love, prayers and positive thoughts from all of us.
Steve, Mandy, Harry and Max.
Thought it was about time I blogged again! Andi is still doing really well - today is 4 weeks since his surgery! - and his wounds are healing really well (he had all the dressings removed last week) and we're going back to see the surgeon again tomorrow for another check-up.
We met with Michael, our oncologist, yesterday. Basically the plan is for Andi to re-start treatment in about 4 weeks time (which will be 8 weeks after surgery). Michael wants to do radiation & chemo at the same time but he needed to check with the radiation oncologist (Prof Graham Stephens) who he was having a meeting with today. We should hear from both Graham & Michael again soon and if radiation & chemo are possible together, we'll be given a date to start.
This time we'll be going to Auckland City Hospital, instead of Mercy - you can't have radiation privately, so we have to go on the public system but if you have radiation combined with chemo, then you are given a higher priority for treatment and they work the chemo to fit in with the radiation date....so we do kinda have a plan - just need some more details & dates to finalise that plan now.
Andi is still pretty low but we're all doing our best to encourage him and reassure him that he is doing really well. Please keep all your healing, positive vibes coming his way and please keep those messages, texts & e-mails winging our way too!
Hang in there dude! Remember I'm only a phone call away....
I've a few things to report that'll avoid any chat on things your end if you need to talk about anything else.
You're constantly in our thoughts and prayers.
Andi / Wndy,
I've been following the blog so keep it up and here's to a full recovery.
Sorry for the silence over the past few weeks, had a tough time getting over the operation, both physically, and mentally. I've found it easier to let Wendy make some comments but that's meant that I've been hiding away with my feelings! So I decided that it was time I did something about it.
Physically, the scars are healing well, still some rib pain and discomfort as the scars stretch and the skin returns to normal, it's only been five weeks since the operation and everyone is very happy with my progress and the speed of my recovery. My appetite still isn't really there, but I am managing to eat about five small meals a day and trying to keep my fluid intake up, not easy as I'm not supposed to drink 30 mins to 1 hour either side of food, try doing that with five meals a day! This is so that it helps to avoid a process called "gastric dumping" which can occur after gastric surgery and involves the stomach emptying too quickly causing pain and lots of time in the bathroom, that's bad enough as it is after having your insides messed about with, they are taking ages to settle down â€“ which I know is normal, and the OPA (Oesophageal Patients Association) in the UK, say that it can take, in some cases, up to two years to fully get over the operation, so my progress to date is very good.
That leaves the mental side. I suppose I was that focussed on getting to the operation and having the intruder removed, that I never considered what I'd do afterwards, and how much time I'd have to sit around and think about stuff. The OPA also say that it's quite normal to have some cells remaining at the surgical join and that it's normal to have them treated with radiation therapy, no one had ever said that to me before so I just wasn't prepared for it, the founder of the OPA had the operation 26 years ago, and the nurse we've been talking to had it 13 years ago. Deep down, I know that I've had the thing removed, and that the chemo and radio will tackle the rogue cells, the Oncologist also said that the most important chemo was the pre op chemo and he was very pleased with that, especially the fact that he managed to attack the thing and prevent any secondary growth. The surgeon was also very happy with the operation and the fact that there was no secondary growth, and the fact that he had a "good clean up" and was very aggressive whilst he had me there, he also said as much in the letter to my GP, and he and the Oncologist are still talking about cure. Both CT scans in the first phase confirmed that the intruder was localised and contained, if that wasn't the case, they wouldn't have been able to operate so easily, and they wouldn't have been talking about putting it into remission, we also knew that there were some lymph nodes involved from the outset, the surgeon removed 43 and only 17 were involved, but those 17 had been subjected to three rounds of chemo. So, even though I know all these things, and I know that everyone is happy with my progress, I still can't stop worrying about "what if's" I know it's pointless, I know that no one has a crystal ball and I know that it's normal for people who go through serious illness to do the same, it happened to Lance Armstrong! But non of that helps when I've got too much time sitting around, especially at 3AM when I can't sleep. The fact that I have lost so much of my independence has also had an impact, I can't get out and about to do "normal" stuff, I can only just walk a couple of Km's, and I can't wait to drive again, the yellow car is staying clean and dry in the garage. I guess that we're just not equipped to deal with such things as part of everyday life, yes, we can be strong, but no one can ever truly understand how hard it is unless they have been through it. The GP has put me on medication to try and help with anxiety and hence sleep, at least the rugby world cup and the 20/20 cricket world cup are on at the moment, great, I knew there was a reason I got Sky TV. So, distractions are welcome please?
Mum goes home next week, and Wendy's Mum goes home today, it's been great having Mum here to help, talk to, moan at, watch TV with etc, not to mention all the trips to the shops she's done for funny books, protein powders, drinks, food, magazines etc. I'll really miss her when she goes, so I have to find ways to occupy my mind during the day. Hopefully, within a couple of weeks, I'll get enough movement back in my body to start drumming again, and then driving after that, so I can at least get to the shops under my own steam.
We have had some positive news today, we are to see the Radio Oncologist this coming Wednesday morning, I'm looking forward to having a plan again, with some dates, rather than being in limbo. We are told that I am to have radio and chemo together, that will be quite hard on my body, and the radio will affect my swallowing again, but hey, what's another few weeks back on soup and protein drinks? Ice cream will still be allowed, so don't be shy.
Bye for now.
An ice-cream delivery will be winging its way to you shortly!!! Lots of new things for you to try!! Yum! Just in case you eat too many Trumpets & Memphis, I will bring the WeightWatchers too! Will text/call to arrange,
Dude. YouÂ´re doing fantastically well, physically and mentally. I am continuously astounded by your courage and your strength, and the number of people you have pulling for you. Keep it up and know that no matter how far away we are, we are thinking of you.
Well done Andy good to hear from you. One of the worst things is boredom it gives you all that oportunity for self pity etc. You're going to get crap days with that level of treatment no need to make excuses. If your tv is as crap in NZ as it is here you're going to struggle anyway. Do they have erm "gaytime tv" all day there? Try sitting through celebrity dancing/ice skating/singing/love island/in the jungle/x factor and god knows what! I'm sure you're going to be fine you'll soon be back outside in the fresh air again. What's your first plan - a spot of fishing perhaps? Take it steady you'll be back to your old lifestyle in no time. Got to go the rugby's on (presented this week by Julian Clarey).
I will be leaving New Zealand on Monday having been here for 7 weeks. It is with very mixed emotions that I will leave; I am so glad I have been here to support Andrew through his surgery and on his road to recovery and I will be sorry to leave him but I have a husband (Chris) at home who has been manning the fort and from whom I have never been parted for so long. Added to which we move house next Wednesday (how's that for timing?). However we will be back here at the end of January by which time I anticipate Andrew will be well on the way to engaging once again in all the sports he loves whether it be cycling, diving or snowboarding (hopefully to Whistler in March).
It has been super to meet so many of you whilst I have been here and to be able to chat to you and put faces to names. I cannot thank you enough for the support you have given to Andrew and, I know, will continue to give whilst he continues on his journey to recovery through the next stage of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I am so grateful to you all.
I know Andrew misses work and the interaction with his colleagues and he is very unused to being so inactive so if you can manage a visit or a 'phone call I know he will be delighted to see you or chat to you.
Thanks again and maybe we'll be able to meet some of you again next year.
We've been to see the radiation oncologist today - we're under Prof Graham Stevens and we saw one of his team today, Dr Lisa Capelle. She went through all the details with us and the next step is for us to be given an appointment for what they call a planning scan. Part of this scan enables them to put permanent marks on Andi so the radiation can then be lined up during treatment. Andi will be having 5 weeks of radiation, each weekday and each treatment will last about 15 minutes. So we'll get to know the route from our house to Auckland City Hospital very well indeed!
Prof Stevens is happy for Andi to have chemo at the same time, so the Stevens team will liase with Michael & his team to tee up the chemo once the radiation start date is confirmed.
Lisa explained that Andi will be prioritised, as his treatment is curative, so he will be fast tracked over others who still may be waiting for surgery etc. So we should be given an appointment for the planning scan in about a week's time and then there are 2 weeks worth of planning before treatment can start, so hopefully we'll be starting in about 3 weeks time.
Andi also needs to have another CT scan between now & when treatment starts, so that the oncologists have a base line to work from. Lisa is arranging this on the public system, so at least we won't have to pay for another scan! (Health insurance only pays for 1 per year and this will be number 3!)
For anyone who might know about such things, Andi's radiation will be 45 Gy in 25 fractions - sorry, can't explain it, doesn't mean anything to us but apparently, it's a very common format for the radiation! They obviously have to get a balance between zapping the baddies and not doing too much damage to the good cells!
We called in to see our GP on the way home and Andi now has some 'super strength' cough mixture to try to shift his very persistent (and v.annoying for him!) dry, tickly cough. The dietician at the hospital, Charlotte, is also arranging for a special approval number for a meal replacement drink called Ensure - means we can get heaps and its government funded, so we only pay $3. Might as well let the government pay for lots of tins of it, rather than us! Andi was sent home from hospital with one called Sustagen but he doesn't like it, nor did he really like Complan but he doesn't mind Ensure - we've been adding fruit to make it into smoothies. All helps with getting Andi's weight back up to the same as pre-surgery!
I'm working from home this week to keep Andi company, then am planning to go into work in the mornings next week and work from home in the afternoons. Andi is getting stronger every day and is more upto having visitors now â€“ in fact, he managed to fit in three lots yesterday: John, from Tip Top came round, then our friend Michelle came over with her dog, Maddy and Judith, from Tip Top also called in! So please feel free to give us a call at home (272 9071) or on my mobile (0211 429 340) if you'd like to pop in â€“ we'd love to see you! Please do keep the phone-calls, e-mails, messages & texts coming too!
So glad the next stage of the plan is coming together. Has to be said, even the name 'Ensure' sounds a lot better (and less OAP) than 'Complan'!! Catch up soon buddy. T&L x
Luckily, things look to be moving pretty fast - we have now been given an appointment for Andi's radiation planning scan tomorrow (Fri) at 10.45am at Auckland hospital! This involves X-rays being taken, along with measurements and permanent marks being drawn onto Andi ready for the start of his treatment. Apparently there is a weekly meeting held on Thursdays to discuss everyone having combined radiation/chemo, so we should be given a start date following next Thursday's meeting. We've been in touch with Michael (medical oncologist) so he should now be liasing with Prof Stevens' team (radiation oncologist) to work out the treatment plan.
Oh and now that I've had a chance to read the radiation information booklet they gave us yesterday, I now know what the 45 Gray in 25 fractions bit means! Gray is a unit of radiation dose referring to the amount of radiation absorbed by the tissue and a fraction is a treatment session.
Will let you know how we get on tomorrow...
Hi - interesting point about using a gray measure... I assume that there is some clever way of figuring out how much Andy absorbs (per kg?) rather than how much is actually generated (rads/sieverts I seem to remember). Anyway, I hope the appointment goes well - i've got visions of Andy muttering the immortal words - "You wouldn't like me when i'm angry..." Cue, green skin, big muscles and much destruction :-)
Yes Andi, Tattoos, why not go for the full Maori look whilst your there! Good luck. (no sunbathing after radiotherapy mind)
Andi had his planning scan last Friday and had 3 (tiny!) tatoos put onto his chest & sides, all ready for when his radiation treatment starts. We're now waiting for a start date for combined chemo/radiation.
We had quite a quiet weekend (as you would expect!) but our friends, Gavin & Natalie came over late afternoon on Saturday and it was great to catch up with them. Then on Sunday, I had my massage, then later in the afternoon, we went around to see Sveta, Wayne & Kirril - who we hadn't seen for ages!
Ian, from Tip Top popped round for a coffee this morning to see Andi, whilst I was at work, then one of the Cancer Society Liaison Nurses, Christine, came round this afternoon - it was good to talk everything through with her.
Anyway, thats us for now - will be in touch again when we have more news!
Andi - got your message - email your phone number and I will call first thing am - should be afternoon for you and we can catch up. All the best.
Just wanted to let you know that Andi is still making really good progress - he's a lot brighter now and not so low which is brilliant. We know it'll still be very up & down but at least things are little bit better at the mo...
This week, I've been into work in the mornings, then worked from home in the afternoons to keep Andi company. Andi's had a few visitors too: Judith, from Tip Top came round on Tuesday whilst I went to Yoga, then on Thursday, Andi came with me when I had my hair cut and Mandy, my hairdresser shaved Andi's head! He was getting really fed of it being 'long' (well, long for him!) and he figured he might as well get it shaved again before his next round of treatment starts! Then we went from the hairdressers to Michelle's house for dinner which was great - someone else cooked and we had a change of scenery and got to catch up on her news.
Today, we've been over to Sylvia Park shopping centre - Andi has bought his new laptop and he also bought me a lovely pressie of two pairs of ear-rings (I couldn't decide between 2 pairs, so he said I could have both!)
Tomorrow, Steve (who Andi works with at Tip Top) and his wife, Christine are coming over for afternoon tea, so I'm gonna do some baking!
Anyway, think thats about caught you up on our week - we're still waiting for a treatment start date, so hopefully we'll hear something early next week. We've just passed the 7 weeks post surgery mark, so we have to wait at least another week yet.
Great to hear that you're feeling brighter!!!
Don't let things go to yer head too much though, I mean buying girly gifts.... what next? You should be buying dive gear dude!!! Only kidding Wendy lady!
Let me know when your up to chatting dude
We now have a definite start date for radiotherapy & chemo: Monday 15th October, so once again we have a plan which is good!
Andi has another CT scan next week on Monday (8th) so that there is a 'base line' scan available prior to his next lot of treatment. His dry, tickly cough is slowly getting better but Andi feels that it is hard to swallow again (due to the fact he's been coughing for 8 weeks but he is understandably worried) so we've requested that the CT scan be done to include his throat too, to put his mind at rest.
On Wednesday, we're seeing Michael, our oncologist to discuss the plans for chemo, then on Friday, Andi has another follow-up appointment with John, the surgeon.
Andi is doing really, really well and is a lot brighter and is wanting to do a bit more which is fab. He even played the drums again today (1st time since surgery!) so he's definitely getting better all the time!
We're off to Michelle's for dinner tonight, then hoping to catch up with some other friends over the weekend - we'll have to see what the weather does (since we've had 4 days of solid rain & howling gales this week!) Hoping we can go away overnight next weekend before Andi's treatment re-starts but we'll see how we go...
Anyway, please keep in contact and we'll be in touch again soon.
Well, Andi starts treatment a week today, so not very long to wait now til we start the final phase!
We spoke to Michael, our oncologist today, as we were due to see him on Wednesday but since we're now in the public system (as you can't have radiation privately) we've now been changed over to be under the care of a new oncologist in the public system, so we see Dr Paul Thompson on Thursday morning this week to discuss chemo. By speaking to Michael, it seems that they are intending to use one of the previous chemo drugs (hopefully in tablet form) and that the chemo will run in conjunction with the radiation and therefore only be for 5 weeks, so hopefully we'll finish earlier than we thought (keep everything crossed!) Michael explained that the chemo prior to surgery has done the lions share of the work and they need to keep a balance when giving chemo in conjunction with radiation, as they obviously don't want to make Andi too sick, as that would be counter productive!
Andi had his CT scan today and Dr Capelle (radiation doctor) had arranged for the scan to include his throat, so he will be able to be reassured about that.
We had a good weekend - went to Sylvia Park (for some more retail therapy!) on Saturday, then went over to Steve & Chris' for the evening. Sunday, I had my massage, then we pottered about and then went over to see Charlie, Jenny & baby Molly late afternoon and stayed for dinner. Today, we came home via Sylvia Park (we had to really, cos it was rush hour, so we'd only have been stuck in traffic!) for Andi to buy a couple of CDs and we ended up in the pub for dinner - so all in all, we've had a lot of 'normal' moments which is fab!
Anyway, will let you know how we go on Thursday with the oncologist. Please do keep in touch - we're always really pleased to hear from you all.
W & A
Just to let you both know we are still thinking of you both over the coming weeks.
There is no point in pretending the chemo and radiotherapy is going to be fun but at least you know what to expect. We wish you both strength and endurance for the next stage of treatment.
Hope you have some fun things to lighten the mind this week as well as seeing doctors. You guys have done so well to get this far and so keep it going.
Love Jim and Janice xo
Good news all round -
a) Andi's CT scan was clear - no other growths (including his throat which he was really worried about since it had become difficult to swallow again after having a cough for 9 weeks...)
b) Chemo is going to be with just one drug, Capecitabine, as a tablet, so Andi can take those at home - so no more IVs or sitting in oncology wards all day
c) The tablets are now funded, so instead of paying $2.5K we paid 22 bucks - result!
So we're all set to start radiotherapy on Monday and Andi will also start taking the Capecitabine tablets then too (3 tablets, twice a day). As you can imagine, Andi is feeling a lot happier now that he has been reassured about his throat.
After seeing the oncologist this morning, we met up with Stephen (Andi's cousin) who was up in Auckland on business and went for lunch at Sylvia Park - it was great to catch up with Stephen again (let us know when you're next up in the big smoke mate!)
Tomorrow we go back to see John again for a follow-up appointment, then we'll be calling into see the GP for more sleeping tablets for Andi and Andi has to go & be a pin cushion again and have yet more blood taken for tests!
Not heard from some of you in a while...do get back in touch when you get the chance!
Bye for now
Hi you two sorry its been a while. Glad the latest results are looking good now you can just push on and smash the rest of the intruder.
Thinking about you both
Tim & Elaine
Good news Andi well done. Radiotherapy is nothing to worry about it's a bit like having an x-ray - you don't feel a thing it just knackers you out a bit. Don't know about the chemo I haven't tried that! I reckon those scars you have will pass as a shark bite later on - pretty impressive you could spin a yarn or two there. Chin up, soon be over, time is whizzing on, your on the way to the end of that tunnel.
Hi Wendy & Andi,
Good to read latest report about Andi and here's hoping all continues to go well for you both.
Made a call into Bowyers yesterday and took Barbara out for lunch. Didn't get any further than the factory gate but was fortunate enough to bump into Chris Browning and Pauline Butt. All very sad about the pending closure of the Trowbridge site but at least they will be busy up until Christmas.
Well,the rugby has certainly thrown up a few surprises and who would have thought New Zealand and Australia would be home by now. Looking forward to watching England v France tonight and who knows we may make the Final.
Will be leaving for Australia on 24th October and picking up a cruise ship on the 27th. Will check with you to see how things are before we arrive in Auckland on 7th November. We are only in town for one day between 8.00am and 6.00pm. It would be great to see you both but will fully understand all depends on Andi's treatment.
Be in touch soon and in the meantime all the very best to you both.
Rod & Diane
WeÂ´re still thinking of you guys.
My first post for ages, not really felt like writing much, so I've left it to Wendy.
I'm four days into my daily trip to Auckland, and four days into my Chemo, so far, all is fine, the staff at the hospital are great, there are no real side effects yet, apart from feeling tired and having a dry throat, I still have a sore throat from my cough and I'm still on the morphine elixir for that, so, that will probably be with me for the next few weeks at least.
My ability to swallow will be affected, so I'll be back on the porridge and soup diet for a while, but so far, it's all ok.
Wendy has been doing a wonderful job of working and driving me everywhere, as well as making sure I don't miss either of my 8.30 morning or evening chemo sessions, we're racking up some mileage on the car and discovering new routes into the city that avoid the traffic!
Glad the results were positive earlier in the week. Good news that you have started the final stage of the chemo. Sounds from the blog that you're still going to have to fill yourself up with more pills. Just think you'll be able to be your own percussion section as well as the main drums if you happen to bounce up and down whilst banging away on this jam jars of yours.
Get yourself over being a smarty tube in disguise and then its a case of getting that fitness back for a serious case of snowboarding.
Having said that I need to get my fitness back as well.....
Will catch up with you sometime. Don't forget the rugby at the weekend
Love to you both
Tom & Linz
Well, Andi has now been 'zapped' 5 times and has been taking his chemo drugs all week. So far, he's not had too many side effects, although the nausea is starting to kick back in and he's obviously very tired. We're putting aqueous cream on twice a day, on the site that's being zapped - this should help with the sunburn which is going to happen but by keeping the skin moisturised, it shouldn't get too sore.
Generally Andi is only in the hospital for about 10 mins - the zapping is only 30 seconds on the front and 30 seconds on the back - the rest of the time if for him to get changed and for the radiotherapists to line Andi up to ensure he's in exactly the same place every day!
We saw John last Friday and he had spoken with both Prof Stevens (radiation oncologist) and Dr Thompson (chemo oncologist) about Andi's treatment. We go back to see John a week after Andi's 5 week treatment is completed, when they will have done another CT scan. Hopefully that will then be it, unless they decide to do any further chemo and we'll then go back and see John after 3 months.
I had to be at work all day Tues & Weds last week, as we had our annual food safety audits (which we passed!) so Steve (from Tip Top) took Andi into hospital on those days. Natasha (HR Manager at Tip Top) has kindly arranged for 2 other volunteers to take Andi into hospital for 2 days this coming week, as I have to go on a 2 day course.
We managed to have a night away last weekend - just to a local hotel but we had a suite, with a spa bath, had room service dinner, room service breakfast and really managed to relax a bit which was fantastic!
We had an impromptu evening out on Tuesday - we took a takeaway round to Andrea & Garth's (I work with Andrea and we had had an 'interesting' day at work that day!) so decided on a spur of the moment get together, which was great! As Andi said, we needed to take advantage whilst he was feeling up to it!
I also had another Reiki treatment on Thursday which was lovely!
It's a long weekend over here this weekend (as it's Labour Day on Monday) so we're having a quiet 3 days at home - no trips to the hospital for 3 days either! Today we've just vegged out all day and tomorrow, we're hoping to meet up with Steve & Chris to go to the movies & enjoy some pizza!
Anyway, will be in touch again soon - please keep all those positive vibes coming our way!
Well done both of you, keep up the good work. Watch out for anything spicey Andi, all that zapping buggers up your digestion for a while, take it easy. Good luck.
Andi has now had 11 treatments, so nearly half way through. The side effects are starting to kick in: quite a bit of nausea, so he's now on regular anti-nausea meds and swallowing is once again becoming difficult and his throat is pretty sore and his cough is still around but apart from all that...!
We're just about back on the porridge, soup & smoothie diet but hey, if that's what we need to do, then that's what we will do.
Some more Tip Top volunteers took Andi in to hospital for 2 days last week as I was on a course: Norm, on one day and then Ian/John on the other day - Thanks guys, much appreciated. So far this week, I've done both days but Charlie is coming over tomorrow with Molly and he's going to take Andi into hospital and bring him home again, so they will get to spend some time together and I'll be able to have a whole day at work.
Michelle and her dog, Maddy came over on Saturday - we left Maddy to keep Andi company and Michelle and I went over to Botany to enjoy a pedicure and a catch-up which was great!
We actually managed an outing together on Sunday - we had tickets to see Crowded House in concert at Vector Arena and we booked ourselves into The Quadrant hotel, so we could chill out there in the afternoon, then we got a cab down to the venue for 7.30pm. The concert was fantastic! There were 2 support bands: Pluto (very good) and Supergroove (a bit strange although there was obviously lots of Kiwi fans in the audience!) and then Crowded House performed for 2 hours, including Tim Finn coming on at the end to play a couple of songs with his brother, Neil. We had a late check-out on Monday, so I did some work, while Andi snoozed, then we headed straight to the hospital for Andi's lunchtime appointment, so that all worked very well.
We saw one of the Registrars on Prof Stevens Team yesterday - they do a check-up to make sure Andi is not having too many problems with the radiation and we're seeing someone from the Thompson team on Thursday to review Andi's chemo.
Weather-wise things seem to be improving so hopefully that will continue - it really does make a difference when we see the sun!!
Anyway, think thats all from us for now - sorry its been a while. Always good to hear from you all - please keep the messages coming.
Think we could both do with a few cheer-up vibes at the moment, along with the healing vibes...mostly we manage to take it in turns to be a bit low but at the moment, we seem to have synchronised...
Hey! What's with these synchronised lows? From here everything at your end is looking much brighter. You can see the end of the road now quite clearly. You are also just getting into summer whilst here we can only see it getting darker and colder. When you think what you have both been through together what's left isn't very much at all and you can seriously start talking about having won the battle now. Keep hanging on in there and kick the last hell out of the invader - it's on its last legs! We're still thinking about you every day.
Hi you two, your Dad's right the future must look brighter now than it has for a long time, and the end of the road is within sight. You have both been so brave and have done so well, you must not allow those lows to sneak in and pull you down, not an easy thing to do, but after what you have both been through it must seem easier to cope with. I have not been in touch for a while but I read these blogs and view the photo's and keep in touch with Mum & Dad so I know what and how you are doing, and I am very proud of both of you for the way you have coped with all that has happened to you, many others would not have been so brave. I am sure the invaders have now grasped the measure of you Andi and they will have decided that there is no place for them in your body, and they had best get the hell out of you, for good.
My love to you both and stay brave and strong.
I came across your blog whilst googling. I am 34 years old and have gone through much the same process you are experiencing. I had my op in Jan 2007 followed by Chemo/Radio. I have to say that you seem to be doing much better than I did so please try and keep up the good spirits. You will find that the radio really does effect your eating so don't push yourself too hard. As for spare time, definately read 'The Monk who sold his Farrari', helps put things into perspective.
You can have a look at my blog http://booandloo.blogspot.com/ although I have been very frank so you might not want to read it.
Good luck with the Radio. Jay
Hi you 2, Here's something to cheer you up, the cost of living continues to increase in the UK, boy did you do the right thing leaving the UK!!! Just remember that light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, so get your shades ready for when you come out the other side. We are thinking of you both & hope to catch up & see you when we fly to Oz next year. All our love & warm feelings, Ellie, Steve & Eleanor xxxxx
Firstly, Thanks to those of you who have been in touch lately - it's always good to hear from you and especially so at the mo, as it's pretty tough going...
Andi's side effects have well & truly kicked in - nausea, sore throat, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, sore hands & feet. He's obviously really fed-up with having to deal with all that lot and although there are only 7 more radiotherapy sessions to go, it feels like we're wading through treacle at the moment - we know we're making progress but it doesn't feel like it.
We saw Dr Thompson, the medical oncologist last week and he reviewed Andi's chemo - the dose has been reduced slightly (from 1500mg twice a day to 1300mg twice a day) as one of Andi's liver function blood counts was a bit high. We see someone from the Stevens Team (Radiation oncologist) on Monday, then on 22nd, a review with Dr Thompson again, followed by a review with John Windsor (surgeon) on 23rd.
On a lighter note, it was good to see (cousin) Stephen yesterday when he was up in Auckland for a meeting. Congratulations to John & (cousin) Kirsty too on their latest addition to the Justice clan - Alexander George was born this afternoon!
Anyway, will post again soon but at the moment, apart from daily trips to the hospital, we don't do anything exciting!
Bye for now
Hang on in there you two. I wish I could think of something amusing to say but there is nothing funny about feeling ill. Just keep up the good work. I often wonder how you're getting on over there and so do many others I'm sure. So keep blogging and speedy recovery!
Well, we've nearly reached the point it felt like we were never gonna reach! Andi has one more zapping session to go on Monday.
We then see Dr Thompson, the oncologist on Thursday next week and then John Windsor (surgeon/specialist) on Friday...
We're trying not to get too excited yet, just in case they decide to do some more chemo - will keep you posted...
This last week has been busy for me at work and on Monday I have a day off site - for our Mid Term Plan launch!?!
Today we've had a quiet morning, then Michelle came over so we could go for a pedicure, whilst Maddy (her dog) kept Andi company. Michelle & I also met up with Rose-Maree for a cuppa and a chat, before doing a spot of shopping!
No plans for tomorrow - another quiet one probably.
Thats all for now folks - will update you again once we've seen the specialist next week.
Fingers and toes crossed all goes well Thgursday and Friday
Thinking of you both
Just thought I would let you know we did not forget about you, we were just on the road for several days.
Still thinking of you Andi.
Well, we seem to be just about finished...at one stage it seemed we were never gonna reach this point and now we're here, we're not really sure how we feel! It feels quite unreal...
We saw Paul Thompson (the oncologist we were seeing in the public system) yesterday and he said he could see no benefit in doing any further chemo. Andi just wants Mike Findlay (our original oncologist) to confirm that he agrees (we're waiting on Mike to phone us to discuss). Then we saw John Windsor today (surgeon/specialist) and he was happy that the treatment they set out to do, is now all complete and as far as they know, Andi is clear and cancer free! The hardest part is that obviously with cancer, there are no guarantees but all the team who have been involved in Andi's treatment seem confident. The original prognosis was that Andi's cancer was curable, so we have to trust that that is what they have done!
I think it will take us a while to get our heads around it, so no partying just yet...we need to allow ourselves to start believing it I guess. Andi is still not feeling very good physically, as the side effects from the radiotherapy generally last a few weeks after treatment has finished but hopefully with each day, he will start to feel a bit better...
They are arranging for Andi to have another CT scan in January (as a baseline scan, he had one prior to treatment and now needs one post treatment but needs to wait til the effects of the radiotherapy are gone), then we see John again on 1st February. John basically said today for Andi to work on getting himself stronger & back to fitness. There's not really anything he should avoid, although he did say to hold off from jumping back into a helicopter or diving for now! He will discuss those 2 activities again in Feb.
So, as I said, we're not sure yet how we feel...need a bit longer to process everything, then start to figure out what getting back to 'normal' really means!
Thanks to you all for your support in getting us both this far...
Will be in touch again soon
W & A
You had better start believing you are at the end because I am quite convinced that you are cured as I have always believed strongly you would be. I know it must feel a bit weird to get to the end of all the treatment and everything that went with it as it has inevitably dominated all else since last April. There's bound to almost be a feeling of anti-climax waiting for someone to tell you it's all over? All you should now have to do is to regain your strength gradually and get on with living life for all it is worth. The future looks very bright.
I couldn't help but make a few comparisons last evening here in Perth, Scotland. Your Mum and I made a rare visit to a live concert to hear Beth Nielsen Chapman sing. This was not a long planned event for us but a sudden impulse to go and we are glad that we did. Here is someone who having lost her husband to cancer when he was 37 was stricken herself with breast cancer a few years later. Quoting from a BBC web site "she spent twelve difficult months being treated for breast cancer. She used her position to speak out about the illness, keeping a web log on her website to demystify the process of chemotherapy, taught in workshops about dealing with grief and urged women in her audiences to be vigilant about their health."
To see her bouncing around the stage and singing strongly and vibrantly for well over two hours was a great experience and the overall performance was absolutely brilliant.
As the side effects of all the treatment gradually fade away and you start to get your strength and enthusiasm for life back again then we look forward to hearing all about the progress on this blog.
To hell and back for good. Tip Top has survived without you, but will be great to see your return. Will catch up with you in a week or two when you have had a chance to recover.
Glad that your at the end of that very long tunnel.
When's the book coming out? How about this for a title - 'WHIRLWIND' The story of a turbulent year for a helicopter pilot.
In all seriousness, take it easy there's no rush to do everything. It sounds like you are grounded and beached in so far as flying and diving goes; well at least for the moment, hopefully you get the all clear in time for the end of the summer so that you can fly and dive again.
Guess that the bikes can finally be dusted down and see the light of day again.
Be good, hope the side effects wear off quickly, talk soon.
Tom & Linz
Well, looks like we were right to be a bit cautious - Andi has just spoken to Mike Findlay (our original oncologist) and although he does agree with the other specialists: that Andi has had curative treatment and although they obviously don't know for sure, they are confident that it has worked; Mike has said that further chemo may be an option...
Basically, Andi's pre-surgery chemo may not have been as effective as they hoped (as there were still some positive lymph nodes removed during surgery and there was still a positive margin) and there may be some benefit in doing some further chemo. It sounds like it is up to us and obviously Andi feels (and I agree) that he wants to do everything possible and if some more chemo may be beneficial, then he wants to do it.
Mike explained that you need to wait at least 6 weeks following radiotherapy, before chemo re-starts, so he has booked to see us again on 9th January. Andi will have more blood tests prior to that appointment and if he has not yet had his CT scan by then, that doesn't matter as it won't really have any bearing on the decision. Mike will have a think about chemo options and go through them with us on 9th Jan â€“ apparently there is a new drug being used in the US, that is being shown to be beneficial in cases such as Andi's. Sounds like we have the option of a real â€˜belt & braces' approach, so we will be taking anything on offer!
So, that's where we are at the moâ€¦will obviously know more after our appointment with Mike on 9th Jan.
At least Andi should start to feel better over the next few weeks and we will get to enjoy Christmas together, so that's great!
W & A
Hi Andy and Wendy
Great to hear you are still progressing well - hang on in there - you are on the home straight - hope you feel well enough to enjoy the christmas dinner!!!
Take care and always thinking of you
Angie and Eck (Jim's friends)
Hi to both of you
I bet you cannot comprehend what you guys have been through during the past months, it must all seem like a very bad nightmare, and you have just woken up, and how brave you have both been. I know that "we", all the family are so proud of the way you two have coped and come through, well done you.
I read that there is to be some more chemo in the new year, and although I am sure you had hoped to be finished with that by now, this is probably a bit of extra insurance which you Andi, will cope with as you have with all before, but for now put all thoughts of treatments and operations behind you and look forward to Christmas together, and I am sure you can plan for your future in the new year.
Keep well and happy both of you.
My thoughts and love are with you.
I just wanted to say well done for getting through what has possibly been the toughest year of your lives. You guys are so strong and thank you for taking the time to keep us all updated - I have personally found your words very inspiring and I hope knowing you are so loved by so many has given you some lift.
All the best for a very merry Christmas and a wonderful 2008 ahead.
Lots of love,
Rachel (& Russell) Agnew
P.s. Would be awesome to actually meet you one of these days! x
We have just had a great night away in Tutukaka, visiting Martin, Jill and Herbie, we had a really good time trying to be normal, Martin cooked a great dinner, I even had some wine! the only downside was the almost 4 hour drive back home, a bit of rain and people drive their cars into each other here, when there's only one road it messes things up.
We eventually got home and went over the road for some food, guess it was too soon to try roast beef? another almost choking in public incident. Just when we try and have some normal time, go away for the night, see friends etc, there is always something to remind us that we are far from normal, and what is normal anymore anyway? it's been so long since we felt normal and did normal things that I'm beginning to wonder if they'll ever be the way they were, not that they will ever be the same, but we want them to feel the same, be able to do the same things, see the same places, see the same people again, do all the things that make us feel good again. We do have snatches of it, and hopefully the bits between the snatches are getting shorter, with the chemo starting in January I just hope that the side effects from the radio subside enough to enjoy Xmas and maybe eat some xmas dinner too, with some nice wine! and have a few days of normality, that would be a good xmas present, and then the non normal can start again....
Come on Andi ya daft bugger. I'm surprised you're even on your feet after all that treatment! Give it time. You'll get there. Don't think too much about what's normal. You've got to look forward now. You've got Wendy and she's been through a lot. We are all watching and willing you on. Take your time, you'll get there. Have a good Christmas the pair of you and let's hope for a much better new year!
You will get there stick at it. Have a good Christmas.
Andi - have a Merry Christmas and look forward to a great New Year!
Thought I'd better get back in touch, since I don't seem to have 'blogged' since last month! Partly cos there hasn't been much to report and partly cos I don't seem to have had much 'spare' time. Things have been busy at work and I've just recruited a new member of my team to start in January. There have been various Christmas socials to go to - Cerebos Christmas party was at the end of November, then we had our Bookclub BBQ and Andi and I have managed to catch up with some friends over the last week or so: Rose-Maree and Carl, Nat & Gav and Steve & Chris - not all at the same time!
My Mum arrived on Wednesday this week - it was great to see her again and under much better circumstances this time! My brother, Rob & his fiancee Misha arrive on Christmas day - at 5am, so Christmas will start early for us!
We're off upto Whangaparaoa tomorrow to stay in a bach I've booked. It's not too far away - about 45 mins or so and the house is one block back from the beach, so we're looking forward to being able to chill out there and enjoy our Christmas by the beach!
The weather has been pretty good lately - upto 24 degrees and fairly sunny, although we have had a few showers...I guess those of you in the Northern hemisphere don't want to hear about temperatures in the 20s...! Anyway, we're hoping for a sunny Christmas, so we'll see!
We'll get back in touch again before next year! We hope you all have a great Christmas.
W & A
Have a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas, you both deserve it.
We hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas - we all had a really good time here. Andi and me and Mum all went upto Whangaparaoa last Saturday to stay at Sonesta Lodge which is a 5 bedroom house, 1 block back from the beach - it was fab! Plenty of space, huge deck out the back and literally just 2 mins walk from a beautiful beach: Arkles Bay.
Our friends, Nat & Gav called in to see us that day, then Sunday, the 3 of us had a quiet day, doing not a lot! Christmas eve, Michelle and her dog, Maddy arrived at lunchtime and we all chilled out for the afternoon before Nat & Gav joined us for a BBQ dinner. Gav took Maddy for a walk on the beach in the evening and although he was warned that Maddy would head straight into the sea, I think he still got taken a bit by surprise and ended up leaping across some rocks, before being dragged into the ocean upto his knees! Both Gav & Maddy seemed to enjoy themselves though!!
Christmas day began early as Mum & I got up at 4.30am (yes, that's am!!) to go & collect my brother Rob and his fiancee, Misha from the airport. We were all back home by 7am after an uneventful return trip to Auckland airport. Rob & Misha headed off for a kip, Mum went back to bed and Andi was just chillin out whilst Michelle & I took Maddy to the beach for a swim, then dropped her back home and we both went for a swim ourselves! We pretty much had the beach to ourselves (since it was still only about 9am) and despite it being freezing (we had to keep moving once we were in!), we enjoyed our swim and I still find it cool to be able to swim in the ocean on Christmas day!
By the time we got back to the house, the rest of the household were up & about and we sat out on the deck to open all our pressies! Considering none of us were going 'overboard' present-wise this year, we had a lot to open which was great!
Andi got a surprise Christmas pressie of his very own Bike Friday, courtesy of Rob & Misha! The rest of us were in on the surprise but Andi had no idea and was blown away! He is now the proud owner of a yellow pocket rocket pro!
Once all the pressies were opened, we just chilled out for the rest of the day and then had our vegan (as both Rob & Misha are vegans) Christmas dinner early evening: roast veges, vege kebabs, heaps of salad, followed by (non-vegan!) pavlova and (vegan) chocolate refridgerator cake! Yum!
Boxing day we had to get up and pack up and we left the bach at about 10.30am to drive back to our house. We had lunch there, then drove Rob & Misha over to their bach in Maraetai - about 20km away from ours. I managed to find them a really cute, studio bach, 5 mins walk from the beach at Maraetai and they are living there very happily til they fly back to the US on 3rd Jan.
Since we've been home, we've met up with Rob & Misha most days - we all went into the city on Friday - on the ferry from Half Moon Bay - enjoyed afternoon tea in a cafe at the viaduct, wandered down Queens Street, then got the ferry back.
Rob & Misha have invited us to their place on New Year's eve, so we're intending to head over there in time for lunch, enjoy the afternoon at the beach, then have dinner together and hopefully watch the Sky Tower fireworks from the beach....
We definitely won't be be sorry to see the back of this year so here's to a healthy & happy 2008 for everyone!
Happy new year to both of you.
Andi, you will be happy to know that Tara and I managed to get one last dive in here in South America. We dove in 12 degree fresh water in lake Nahuel Huapi in Bariloche at 700m above sea level. So we can now finally say we have done an altitude dive, 2 actually. It was freezing and there wasn´t much to see, but it was just so good to get back under water.
Sorry, not been in touch for a while....just trying to get our heads around things. Saw Mike, our original oncologist last week and there is some further chemo which may be of some benefit (not cos they think there is anything left but to help ensure nothing ever comes back) but it's not been trialled in curative treatment, only palliative care, so there is no data available for Mike to give us.....also there are risks associated with having the extra chemo (permanent nerve damage etc) but Andi is probably already at risk from stuff like that from all the other drugs he's already had....feels a bit like we're between a rock and a hard place but Andi's view is that if there is anything else he can have which may help, then he wants to have it, which is fair enough, so we should be re-starting either next Weds or 30 Jan, still waiting on Mike to confirm.....treatment is scheduled to take 9 weeks, so we should be done by mid April...I guess the end is in sight but at the moment, we're both struggling to keep plodding on....
Hi to you both. Our thoughts & prayers continue to be with you, what ever you decide to do about the extra treatment I'm sure will be the right one. Remain strong & focused to get through this, you've come this far, although its been a rollercoaster, the track is nearly leveling out. Best wishes xxxxx
Hi Guys, was just thinking of you and thought I'd see what's going on with you. I agree this is probably the best time to get that lil extra just in case. You're already used to this "normal" so what's another couple of months? You're still in my prayers and I look forward to hearing you're all clear for take off again.
Andi has had the first of his last lot of chemo today - he will have 3 cycles altogether and today was the 1st cycle. He's having Taxotere via infusion and today it took about 3 and a half hours - Andi had a slight reaction to the drug initially - shooting pains in his back - so Elsa (the nurse) had to stop the infusion, give Andi some other medicines, then re-start the infusion. After that, it was all OK. No side-effects yet but need to see how this drug affects Andi...will keep you posted.
Andi is now more than a week into his 1st cycle of new chemo and so far, so good! He has been feeling really tired but otherwise not too many other bad side effects (certainly not as bad as previous cycles with the other drugs anyway). Initially he had no energy and was really restless and he still can't do that much as he gets v.tired but is definitely feeling better than last time, so that's a relief.
Andi had more blood tests this week and they were fine, so that's really good, as this drug tends to hit your white blood cells pretty hard and your counts can drop significantly within the first week after treatment. Looks like we'll be all set for cycle no. 2 on 13 Feb....
We've got another fairly quiet weekend planned, although I'm doing a women's duathlon on Sunday - 5km walk or run (I'll be walking!) and a 10km cycle. I cycled the course on Weds this week and there are 2 hills!! Never mind, will just give it my best shot - not too worried about how long it takes me, just want to finish! Hopefully it won't be too hot - we've been enjoying temperatures in the high 20s lately - not that we're complaining of course!
Anyway, be great to hear from you all if you get the chance - its been v.quiet from some of you lately, so hope all is well. Do get in touch even if you think you have no news - we always like to hear some 'normal' news - since it's been a while since things have been 'normal' (whatever that is anyway!) around here!
Bye for now
Chris and I arrived in NZ on Tuesday and were delighted to see Andrew looking better than we had anticipated. It's so good to see him and we are enjoying taking him out each day so that he can have a change of scene. He tires easily so we have been for a short drive and perhaps a short stroll on the beach followed by lunch. We hope to be able to have small outings each day we are here. It's good to hear Andrew planning his return to work and to fitness.
Today I have the second of the three extra rounds of Chemo, so after that there's only one more round to go, my blood counts are low, but not too low to have the infusion so we have to be at Mercy for 3pm, let's hope that I don't have the reactions like last time, but if I do, at least I know what to expect.
It's good to see the light at the end of the tunnel, started looking towards my training plan to get back to fitness, swimming, riding and some running, ready for next years Triathlon season and MTB races, will miss all of this years but I can at least get a good start on next years, better than trying too soon.
I'm looking forward to being able to travel again too, and to dive! really miss my fishy friends.
Mentally things have been pretty tough, we lost a friend to breast cancer at the weekend, a lovely person and it's so unfair, even though it's different, and I know that, it's just very close to home and a reminder that they can sometimes come back or already be there somewhere. I know that my scans have all been clear and that the medical teams are confident, but that's all easy for them to say, harder for me to get my head around things, that will take time. I'm thankful though that I have the time and the chance to do that. And that we can offer help and support to our friends when and if they need it, in any way.
At last, my bloods were tested yesterday and they're all ok so I can have the last Chemo infusion tomorrow. This is the last of the extra three sessions, there were times when I didn't think I'd see this day, there is still some way to go on the recovery side, but this should be the last of the treatment.
Another trip to Mercy hospital to be poked and stabbed again, but the final trip to the Oncology ward, hopefully! I will then have a few weeks to get over that and have another baseline scan, then the oncologist will work with me to have a rehab and a return to work plan. So, all being well, this is the final stage and I can start to train again in a few weeks and get back to having a normal life again, as normal as you can have after the past year we've had, and it will be a year from start to finish, and a year with ups and downs, let's hope this is the start of quite a few ups, I think we're owed some highs!
Thought it was about time I blogged again - we completed Relay For Life at the weekend - a 24 hour fundraising event for the Cancer Society! It was great fun although rather exhausting (no sleep on Saturday night!) but we managed to keep at least one person on the track at all times, walked a total of 700 laps which equates to 300km and raised a fantastic $4035 for the Cancer Society!
It's great for Andi & I to be able to give this contribution back to the Cancer Society since they have given us lots of support over the last year and it's good to know we have helped them to continue their support & research for others coping with this cruel disease.
I was there for the whole 24 hours and Andi came out for the survivors lap and then managed another 4 laps!! Thanks to our friend, Gavin for being nurse & chauffeur and Thanks to our fantastic team: Willsher Wombles for joining us to do the event & raise all those funds!
Otherwise, we've just been plodding onwards & upwards - Andi is doing OK after chemo apart from being really tired and achey. It's such a relief to know that all the chemo is now complete...Andi will have another scan at the end of April - to provide a baseline for ongoing monitoring and then early May, we're seeing Mike (oncologist) to discuss rehab and monitoring etc.
To celebrate his last chemo, I bought Andi a pressie and he is now the proud owner of a pair of 'Livestrong' oakley sunnies - v.cool - they have yellow arms and will look ace with his yellow car & yellow bike!!
Anyway, Bye for now - Take Care
I'm so happy and proud of you guys.
I've been thinking about Andi a lot lately - all the way from South Africa.
All the best to you both, and just keep keeping strong!
Easter is here, we are enjoying some great weather, non of the snow you're seeing in the UK, it's about 23C or so, sunny, and warm. We spent a great day yesterday with Charlie, Jenny and Molly, went for a paddle and an ice cream on the beach, what else do you do on Good Friday? we'll really miss them when they move back to the UK in a month or so.
Charlie has been a great friend over the past year, even if it's only when he tells me to wind my neck in and have a beer...ha ha. But seriously, we hope they find what they're looking for, for a while anyway.
It's almost a year since all this started, is taking much longer to get over the drugs this time around, my taste is shot, everything aches and I feel like I've been run over, but it's all coming good, slowly. Last Easter we'd just sold the house in the UK and we had friends over for a curry that I cooked, it's amazing how quickly and drastically things can change, just enjoy what you've got.
We've off to Tutukaka on Monday, to a friends wedding, will be only the second time, ever, that I've been there and not been diving, the first was when we visited just before Xmas, this time, at least I can have a better idea of when I will be able to see my fishy mates again, there have been some awesome sightings over the Summer, I'll just have to wait until next Summer for my NZ Manta rays and Turtles, and hopefully the odd Hammerhead! You never know what the Winter will bring, I'm looking forward to seeing the clear water again, the cold? well, it isn't ever really that cold in you've ever dived in the UK, especially the North Sea, we still get between 12 C and 15 C most of the Winter so I'll cope, he's to some awesome weekends with Martin and Jill and sinking beers late at night - be there soon.
We have just had a couple of days in Tutukaka for the wedding of a couple of good friends, Martin and Jill, it was the first time I have been there, with good weather, and not been diving, that was hard, you could see the Poor Knights from the marina, even though the Ocean looked very lumpy, you just knew that the conditions at the islands were good, with great viz too, still, won't be long and I'll hopefully be there, need to save up all that cash for the rebreather again, spent all that on drugs...
The wedding was great, very special, but a very long day for me, hard work, my longest yet, the ceremony followed by drinks and then the reception which followed on to the evening and and awesome band. I lasted ok, but my voice was done in, as expected, and I slept well that night, but it was great to do some "normal" stuff with friends. Even managed some steak for dinner, nice and tender, but the first real meat in ages, not really missed it that much in fact, and we've got so used to eating veggie food over the past year, just no more soup or porridge and we'll be fine.
We're back home now, and just being patient over the recovery process again, Wendy has another walk this Sunday morning, and I'll hopefully be able to start getting out and about soon, the weekend in Tutukaka certainly got the motivation going for the water, not that it needed a kick start, but we do love it up there....and there's all my fishy friends just waiting for a visit.
Here's hoping that the recovery speeds up a bit now that the drugs should be clear of my system. Managed coffee and some cake over the road this afternoon once Wendy had finished work, got to keep trying these foods I missed out on for so long.
It's been a very long while since I added anything to the blog & it's about time... Keep going Andi my friend, persevere & stay strong. I can only imagine how tough this has been on you & I get some inkling from this webpage, other emails & phone calls going back & forth. Take great care of yourself & you will reap the benefits of your recovery when you're feeling able to do more. Sending much love to you & to Wendy, we're continuing to plan our next visit to see you! BIG hug XX
Glad to hear you're at the end of the drugs now CIL. Looking forward to you guy's coming down in June. Bring jumpers... Brrrr. Oh, I have been saving a stash of ultra special beer for your visit.
BTW, it's Bambi 9 - 0 JJ
Nothing's really new, been trying to just get on with the recovery process again, still on the steroids for the throat / voice / cough, so no real talking for a few weeks, hopefully be off them in another week or so.
We both picked up some sort of bug at the weekend, I've still got mine a week later, so getting pretty fed up with being stuck in the house again, the start of the week was easier as the weather was wet, but it's ok now and I still can't get out really, but there you go, just got to be patient again, seem to have done a lot of that over the past year and I want to play a different game now. Any plans I may have had for this week have been cancelled.
I have my next scan on Wednesday next week, and then see the Dr a week later, he'll then talk about work and exercise again, so the end is in sight, just need to get there, the steroids and feeling crap just don't help at all. Hopefully we can enjoy a normal-ish weekend, we'll have to see what happens?
Hello Andi & Wendy,
Now back in the UK after 6 months in Australia and already thinking about our return later in the year. Have just read your blog and sincerely hope all goes well for you. You really have had a tough time and I do admire your courage.
Congrats to you both for the work you did for the cancer charity and the money you raised. Also thank you for your recent email that was sent to my Oz address, very much appreciated. Keep your chin up and trust you enjoy a good winter in NZ and your treatment continues to go well.
Have come back to wet and dull weather here but they promise an improvement soon. Must admit miss the sun.
Off to see Bath play at the Rec on Saturday, it's on Sky so you should get in in NZ. Went to see a Super 14's game in Perth v Warathas a couple of weeks ago, about the same standard as top English Premiership teams.
Hope to catch up with Barbara over the next couple of weeks who is now temping for a local Devizes firm. Saw Keith Walker yesterday at the Orchardleigh Golf Club, he is working 4 hours a day 5 days a week. I told him he has never worked so hard!!
Will continue to follow your blog with interest and in the meantime here's wishing you both all the very best.
Good news - Andi had his CT scan today and it was ALL CLEAR!!!
Originally we weren't supposed to get the results til next Weds when we have an appointment to see Mike (our oncologist) but since Andi came off the steroids (which he has been taking to suppress the cough that he had) on Monday, he has been getting increasingly breathless, so we spoke to Mike today and he said he would fast-track the scan results just to make sure nothing there was causing the breathlessness.
We saw our GP today and she explained that when you take oral steroids, your adrenal gland, which normally produces natural steroids, is suppressed and so it takes a while when you stop taking the steroid drugs, for your body to adjust. Hence why Andi has had absolutely no energy this week and has been breathless. It should all sort itself out in a few more days and hopefully then he will start to feel better again - at least he seems to have finally got over the virus which gave him an upset stomach for about 2 weeks!
As you can imagine, we were v.relieved to get the all clear on the scan! We'll still see Mike next Weds to discuss rehab, going back to work etc but not having to wait another 5 days for the scan results has saved us a lot of anxiety!
Cameron arrived today, from Christchurch, so Andi & he will be having some boy time, fettling with their bikes and Cam is then doing a triathlon on Sunday morning. In the meantime, I'm going to meet up with some girlfriends for some retail therapy!
We've had celebratory pizza & a beer (well, wine for me!) tonight!
We'll be in touch again after our meeting with Mike next Weds.
Thanks to everyone for all their support & positive vibes in getting us to this point!
Bye for now
W & A
Great news from you guys...........we've been keeping in touch with progress through Lyn and Chris and were brought fully up to date when we visited their new house in Scotland in early April. With this encouraging good news from you, we both trust that Andrew's progress to fitness will be quick and positive.
We send all our best wishes and will be thinking of you both.
Angela and Brian
So, we went to see Mike (oncologist) last Weds for a catch-up. He examined Andi and there were no problems and Andi's blood results all came back fine, so along with the clear CT scan, that was all good! However, Andi is still feeling quite poorly - looks like its just taking his body a while to settle back down again - hardly surprising after what it's been through! Neither Mike nor our GP are worried and have both just said that its going to take time and we just have to take things slowly - guess we have to keep doing that patience thing!
Anyway, as Andi was still not feeling that well, Mike wants to see us again in a month or so's time so that we can discuss ongoing monitoring etc. He wants to leave those discussions til Andi is feeling better which makes sense.
Andi did ask about flying (helicopter piloting) and diving - Mike has suggested that Andi wait until Sept when his aviation medical is due for renewal to sort out the piloting part. As for diving, Andi obviously needs to build up his fitness first but Mike also wants Andi to see a respiratory specialist as well - the radiotherapy will have damaged Andi's lungs to some extent - so although I don't think Andi had anticipated having to see another specialist, it makes sense to get everything double checked.
So, we're back to see Mike on 11 June and in the meantime, Andi can continue to (slowly!) start to feel better and get his strength back. We are desperate to be able to get back on track but have had to accept that these things can't be rushed, as (extremely!) frustrating as that may be!
At least we've got some trips away to look forward to: we're off to Waiheke island next weekend, for a chill out weekend and to belatedly celebrate Andi's birthday, our wedding anniversary (which were both during Andi's last lot of chemo) and an early celebration for my birthday! Then at the end of May (Queen's birthday long weekend) we're back off to Welly to see the rellies!
Bye for now
W & A
Well, thought it was about time we got back in touch...still making progress, just very slowly! Andi is doing really well (even though he doesn't always believe he is!) and he is getting there, just not as fast as he would like...
So, what's been happening since our last blog in May?
I've celebrated my birthday - went out for the lunch with the team at work, had birthday cake, then we had a thai takeaway in the evening. I had quite a few cards and exciting parcels in the post too!
We spent last weekend - which was a long weekend for Queen's birthday - in Welly with the rellies. As usual, we had a fab time - good company, good food, beer (JJ's home brew) and wine, all enjoyed in houses with heating!! It was lovely to see everyone again (since we were last down in July last year) and to meet Alexander who was born last November.
Having arrived back to Auckland late Monday night, I headed back to the airport on Tuesday to fly to Oz for work. First stop was Brisbane, where I met up with Ruth & Stuart, fellow poms who moved to Brisbane 2 years ago. On Wednesday, I took the train towards the Gold Coast to go & audit one of our suppliers. Then Thursday, I flew down to Sydney to spend what was left of the day (Thanks to Qantas and yet another delayed flight) at the Cerebos factory. Friday, I joined the Australian Cerebos Technical team for their away-day, which involved a car treasure hunt - good fun and we didn't have to use our 'Open if you're lost' envelope! I flew back last night and got home just after midnight.
We've spent today just chilling out and catching up on zzzzzz's. Andrea & Garth have been round tonight for a takeaway - it was great to catch up with them again. No plans for tomorrow, see how we both feel. I managed to develop a cold whilst in Oz and Andi is also a bit sneezy.
We're off to see Mike (oncologist) again next Wednesday for another follow up and then hopefully in the next couple of weeks, Andi will be able to start back at work part-time.
Next weekend, we're heading down to Lake Tarawera, to stay in what looks like a fantastic lakeside bach, complete with it's own fishing boat, which Andi is hoping to use to catch some trout - fingers crossed!
Then it's not long til we fly to the USA (6 weeks tomorrow, not that I'm counting of course!) for my brother, Rob's wedding to Misha.
Things are finally starting to looking up - so watch out world, the Willshers are getting back on track!!
Lots of love to you all
W & A
We saw Mike (our oncologist) last Wednesday and it was a very positive meeting. Mike examined Andi and we asked him a fair number of questions but Mike is not concerned about anything and thinks any of the remaining tummy/cough issues that Andi still has will settle down in due course, as they are already improving. Andi is fine to start swimming & cycling again (both very gently to start with!) and Mike will see us again in September.
So we both felt a whole lot better after that and now have another 5 weeks to get Andi feeling even better before we head off on our hols to the States in July, for my brother's wedding.
We've had a lovely weekend this weekend - we went down to Lake Tarawera - about 3 hours South from Auckland. Stayed in a fantastic bach: lakeside with amazing views! Plus the house had a log burner, spa bath and extremely comfortable beds! We had such a wonderfully relaxed time, sitting beside the fire, reading & watching movies and Andi went out fishing a few times (although wasn't lucky enough to catch any trout this time!)
Andi is planning on returning to work on Tuesday, so that will be an important step forward. He's going to aim to do 10am-1pm Tues, Weds & Thurs next week and see how he gets on.
Anyway, will be in touch again soon - keep those e-mails coming, always good to hear your news too!
W & A
We're doing well - finally feels like we're moving forward now.....just slowly but thats OK. Andi has been back at work 2 weeks now - he's just doing Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays at the moment, he started off 10am - 1pm, then last week did 10am - 3pm. He finally has a focus back and is back to interacting with others in a normal kind of way and he has really picked up in terms of being happier & smilier. He is also back on his bike!! Initially it was just on the trainer in the spare room (partly due to the awful weather we have been having lately) but today, he got out on his new bike & enjoyed some rare sunshine!
Have had a quiet couple of weekends since our last blog - just chilling out & trying to keep warm really! For the last 10 days or so, it has rained, hailed, we've had thunder & lightening and its been howling a gale! We managed to catch up with some friends for a takeaway on Saturday evening, then I met up with my fellow bookclubbers on Sunday afternoon for a mid-Winter Christmas bookclub with mulled wine & mince pies!!
Otherwise, we're now on countdown for our trip to the States for my brother, Rob's wedding to Misha! Only 20 more sleeps til we fly out!
It's been great to hear from some of you recently and catch up on your news - some of you have been a tad quiet, so do drop us a line and let us know how you're doing.
Bye for now
W & A
Just thought we'd post another blog before we head off on our hols - not long now til we fly to the US of A for my brother Rob's wedding to Misha! We're both really excited about our trip - can't wait to have a holiday, not to mention seeing everyone again and seeing some sunshine! Last time I spoke to Rob it was 35 degrees - far better than the 10 or 12 we've been managing here!
Andi is doing really well - he's just completed his 5th week back at work (part time) so that's great. Work is really busy for me at the moment, so I'm looking forward to our break.
Anyway, we'll be in touch again when we get home.
Bye for now
W & A
As promised, I'm getting back in touch to let you know what we got upto on our hols! We had a fantastic time - sunny weather, plenty of exploring, chilling out & seeing family & friends.
We left Auckland on Sunday 20th July and flew into San Franciso, then upto Seattle - very cleverly arriving before we left!! We checked into the Hotel Andra in Seattle - a great little Boutique hotel in Belltown, one of the central areas of Seattle. We had dinner in the hotel restuarant which is a Spanish style Tapas restaurant, then headed to bed for some much needed zzzzz's.
Monday, we had a lazy morning, enjoyed breakfast at the hotel, then walked to REI which is a huge outdoor supplies shop, complete with mountain bike trails and a climbing wall! Andi was in heaven but I finally managed to extract him from the shop and we walked to the main shopping area of Seattle for some more, you've guessed it, shopping! That night, we went to a fab pizza restaurant called Special Pie where we shared a yummy pizza, followed by yummy dessert!
Tuesday, we had another leisurely morning and then walked about 4 blocks down to the waterfront and then to Pike Place Market, a huge undercover market with heaps of fresh fruit, veges & fish, along with arts & crafts - now I was in heaven! Having made a few purchases, we then walked further along to Pioneer Square - the original part of Seattle and went to a great bookstore, where we enjoyed both lunch in their cafe and a mooch round all the books. By the time we had walked back to Pike Place Market, along the waterfront, we needed a coffee (& cookie!) stop! That night, we went to a restuarant called 'The Cheesecake Factory' where we had huge plates of food, followed by cheesecake - mmmmm!
Wednesday, we had breakfast, then walked to the Seattle Centre - this was built in the 60s and has exhibition halls, museums, the space needle and a little mono-rail which takes you back into the city. Our reason for going there was to go to the Experience Music Project (EMP) which was set up by Bill Gates' other half in Microsoft and has heaps of memorobilia all about the bands from the Pacific NorthWest, including Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix. Andi was in his element but eventually he was persuaded to take the mono-rail and find some lunch. We then did a bit more shopping, before heading back to the hotel and going to a lovely Italian restaurant next door to the hotel for a gorgeous meal, on our last night in Seattle.
Thursday, we got packed up and then picked up our hire car and headed out of Seattle to drive South through Washington state to get to Astoria, which is on the Columbia river. We stayed at a hotel right under the Astoria Bridge (which is the world's longest continuous truss bridge) and spans the Columbia river between Washington & Oregon. We found a little diner place for dinner and then had a stroll back to the hotel beside the river.
Friday, we set off for the next half of our journey, down the Oregon coast to Waldport, which was the nearest little town to the farm where Rob & Misha were getting married. We arrived there about 3pm and found the vacation home we had rented which was right on the beach, with amazing views (unfortunately we had no time to take photos at that point and for the next few days, there was sea fret which meant no more photo opportunities). We got changed, then drove further into Waldport to the vaction house, Rob & Misha had rented and (eventually - some of the party got a bit lost!) met up with the rest of the wedding party - Rob's best man, groomsmen and Misha's bridesmaids, plus Misha's Mum, Misha's Dad, my Mum and her friend Gill and our family friend, Keyna & her partner, Jon. Misha's Mum made a great meal for us all and we enjoyed some wine and got to know everyone a bit.
Saturday was Rob & Misha's wedding day and Mum and Gill headed out to the farm in the morning to do the flowers (Gill did a beautiful bouquet for Misha, aided by my Mum as her assistant!). Andi & I drove out ready for the ceremony at 3pm. The ceremony was in one part of the farm and then in another area was the bar, the dance floor and the dining tables all set out, under the trees. The ceremony was lovely - Rob & Misha wrote their own vows which were very moving and the ceremony was carried out by their friend, Bill which made it very personal. After the ceremony, there were lots of photos taken and then we all headed back to enjoy appetisers, a great vegan dinner, followed by wedding cupcakes! Misha made a speech, then Jon, Rob's best man did a great speech, then two of Misha's bridesmaids also made speeches, which were all very amusing. Everyone was very interested in Andi wearing his kilt and the the American guests all kept asking him if he was going to play the bagpipes!! Then the happy couple had their first dance and then everyone boogied on the dancefloor under the stars! It was a fantastic day - everything was lovely and Rob & Misha are so happy together. We were so glad we could be there to share it with them.
Sunday, we headed back out to the farm to enjoy blueberry pancakes for breakfast and to help with clearing up and packing things away. Then Mum, Gill, Andi & I chilled out in our hot tub, overlooking the ocean, before Keyna & Jon joined us for dinner. Later that night, we went back round to Rob & Misha's vacation house to watch them open all their cards & pressies.
Monday found us all packing up and making our way to Eugene, where Rob & Misha live. We drove down the coast, which gave us glimpses of beautiful views but unfortunately was quite misty to start with. We stopped in Florence for lunch, then arrived in Eugene and found our next vacation home which was in North Eugene and turned out to be a huge 3 bedroom house with a massive deck and hot tub! We all met up at Rob & Misha's house that evening and got introduced to Peanut & Willy, the cows and Horsey, before having dinner together.
Tuesday, we all had a tour of Bike Friday, where Rob works - its amazing how much they manage to do in a relatively small place - and it was good to see where Rob spends a fair amount of his time. There was time to try out lots of the bikes, before we headed back to our vacation home and the others cycled over to join us for dinner - bringing left-overs for dinner in the trailer pulled by Jon & Becca on the tandem!
Wednesday, we had to say goodbye to Mum & Gill as they flew back to Vancouver and then back to Blighty Andi & I had a pootle round Eugene, then chilled out back at our house in the hot tub!
Thursday, was our last day and so we went to a nearby lake, with Rob & Misha & Joe (all the other guests had already continued on their travels or gone home by this point) and enjoyed the sunshine and a swim in the lake before a Thai meal back in Eugene, followed by delicious cakes from a fabulous local patisserie!
Then all too soon, it was Friday morning and we had to pack up, leave the house and drive out to Eugene airport. Rob & Misha cycled out on their tandem to say goodbye, then we were off on our journey home - 3 flights and 24 hours later we were back in Auckland. We were both really sad to come home as we had such a fabulous time!
It's now a question of getting over the jet lag and keeping warm, since we're back into Kiwi Winter after 2 weeks of American Summer!
Yes, we're once again home-owners! We had already looked at a few properties and then last Tuesday, we found one we both loved, put an offer in, had it accepted by the vendors that night, got a building inspection survey done, got a LIM report (similar to land searches in the UK), sorted out a mortgage, transferred our £'s into $'s and went unconditional (similar to exchange of contracts) last night!!
All very exciting! The house is in Howick, about 10 mins further out to the coast, compared to where we are living now. It's also only 6 years old, has an easy-care garden and is immaculate inside, so we can just move on in! And that will happen on 25th September!! They certainly don't hang around with house purchasing over here!
Adding to the excitement is that we've arranged Pickfords to ship all our things over - will be fab to finally have everything here - after 3 and a half years in storage!
Anyway, things are really busy at work for me at the moment - this week, we have our annual food safety audits for 3 days in Auckland, then for 2 days in Dunedin next week and this weekend, we're off to Lake Tarawera with some friends for a chill out weekend - but I will do my best to get back in touch again soon.
Bye for now
Thought it was about time I got back in touch again. Things have been really busy lately, so haven't had much time for blogging!
We had a great weekend away with our friends, Sveta, Wayne & their 2 boys, at Lake Tarawera. Unfortunately, Andi had no luck catching any trout but we all enjoyed our time away.
Last week, I was down in Dunedin for work and Andi also had one night away, staying at the coast (one of the wild, west coast beaches) for a management conference.
Last weekend, I chilled out with some reflexology and Andi & I enjoyed lunch out in the city. We caught up with some friends for a Thai takeaway Saturday night, then Sunday, we took advantage of some sunshine (!) to stroll over to Botany for some tea & cake!
Later on this week, we're off to Fiji! Our friends, Shelley & Damon are getting married there on Saturday and we're looking forward to joining them for their wedding and having some relaxing time in the sun!
Once we're back, we're off to Taupo for Andi to join his cousin, Stephen & his cousin-in-law, John for a 12 hour mountain bike race! Andi has assured me (and informed competitive John) that he will only be doing a few laps and will take it easy doing them!
After that, its just a week or so until we move house, so we'll be busy packing!
Phew, we should be able to have a rest once we're in our new place - need to wait for our shipment of furniture to arrive from England before we have to do too much unpacking!
Will be in touch again when I get the chance - Bye for now!
W & A
Well I won't go on too much about the wonderful weather, the beautiful beaches, the yummy food, the great company and all the relaxing......we had a fantastic time!!
Shelley & Damon's wedding was a fabulous day and a great time was had by all!
We've off to see the oncologist again tomorrow, so will let you know how we get on.
Bye for now
Wendy & Andi
Since this week is probably gonna be kinda crazy with work & moving, I thought I'd make quick contact now..
Hopefully everyone has our new address & phone number now. Our e-mails stay the same and we should have broadband connected next Friday, fingers crossed...
Will be in touch again once we're all moved in - hope you are all well
Bye for now
Wendy & Andi
Well, we're now in our new home! The move went well - Thanks so much to Nat & Gav and Steve & Chris for all their help - couldn't have done it without you guys!! Much appreciated!!
We moved most things yesterday and today, I've been back to the apartment to clean before we hand the keys back tomorrow morning. Feels really good already to be in a new space - just need our shipment to arrive now, so we can do some more unpacking! We're living very minimalist til then!
Anyway, broadband & phone are both connected and our re-direction seems to have kicked in, so we're still contactable.
Will be in touch again soon - Bye for now
W & A
Sorry, it's been a while since we've been in touch - we've done heaps since we moved house!
Since we don't have much unpacking to do (until our shipment arrives) we've done lots of other jobs - arranged for a log burner to be installed (just waiting for the council to grant us our permit first); had our 1st firewood delivery (and moved it all into our wood shed!); bought some outdoor furniture and painted our bedroom & ensuite!
We've also had some visitors - Michelle has been round for dinner, as have Martin & Jill when they were down in Auckland the other week and Lezel has been over to catch up with us too.
We went back to see Mike (the oncologist) a few weeks ago and he was really pleased with Andi's progress. We are due to go back & see him again in December and he will then do another CT scan in March (which will be a year after Andi finished chemo!) We have also been to see Dr Christmas, a respiratory specialist to talk about whether Andi can go diving again - the radiotherapy has affected Andi's lungs and they are now not as elastic as they were - Andi has had some lung function tests and we're waiting on another appointment to discuss the results.
This weekend, we're meeting the 'Fiji gang' for lunch on Sunday and then next weekend, we're doing more painting: this time, the living room, dining & kitchen!
Andi has been out buying some more toys too: he went out to buy another kayak (play boat) and ended up coming home with BOTH a play boat and a sea kayak!! We went down to Cockle Bay beach last Sunday and Andi had a go in his new sea kayak! It's yellow to match his car & bike!
Anyway, be good to hear from you with your news too :-)
Bye for now
W & A
well, it's been kinda busy for the last month and suddenly we find ourselves almost at the end of Nov! Hope this finds you all well and surviving the cold (for those of you in the Northern hemisphere) and enjoying the warmth (for the Southern hemisphere dwellers)!
We've finished all the painting that we wanted to do - had a mammoth weekend doing our lounge/dining/kitchen - which is one big room, all open plan and last Tuesday, our container arrived, so we've been re-acquainted with all our belongings!
Andi's parents have been in Auckland for the last 2 weeks and luckily (for us, not so much for them!) their stay coincided with our container delivery and it was great to have an extra two pairs of hands to help with the unpacking. We're sorted now and it's fab to have all our things around us again.
For those who keep up with Andi's facebook, you will know that unfortunately the respiratory specialist came back and recommended that he doesn't dive again....he's gutted but is being sensible about it all and working on getting rid of temptation by selling off all his kit at the moment....he's going to focus on his kayaking and his photography instead.
We go to see Mike (oncologist) again next week for another follow up, so will let you know how we go with that.
Anyway, now that we're all unpacked, we'll try to be in touch a bit more regularly and it would be great to hear from you all when you get the chance.
Take Care - Bye for now
W & A
Happy New Year to you all! Just realised I hadn't blogged since last Nov....whoops, will try to catch you up a bit now.
We had a lovely quiet Christmas - just the two of us - in our new house and then our friends Cameron & Verena came up from Christchurch for New Year.
Since then, we've both been busy with work - Andi is now Technical Manager at Tip Top, so he & I are essentially doing the same job but at different companies - makes for some interesting conversations at home!
My Mum and her cousin, Jacqueline arrived on 15th January and were both with us for just over a week during which time we had a weekend at Lake Rotorua, went to see some Outdoor Shakespeare (Romeo & Juliet) and enjoyed a meal in the revolving restaurant, Orbit, at the top of the Sky Tower in Auckland. Jacqueline flew home last Friday and we've all been taking it easy this weekend, which has been a long weekend, with a public holiday today.
Andi tried out his new surf kayak on Saturday at Murawai beach and today is at Maraetai beach, teaching our friends Natalie & Christine more kayaking skills! Meanwhile, Mum & I have had a pedicure, been chilling out & reading our books.
Another quiet weekend is planned for next weekend and then we have a weekend away for Andi's birthday, which happens to be another long weekend.
Hope 2009 is treating you all well so far.
Bye for now
W & A
We're now officially Kiwis!
We attended our citizenship ceremony on Thursday night. It wasn't too dull, despite there being 300 people who all had to go up on stage individually and collect their certificates and we were numbers 295 & 296!
Next step will be for us to apply for our NZ passports, then we'll be able to travel freely between here & Oz without getting visas.
Bye for now
W & A
Hope all is well with everyone - hope all of you in Blighty are surviving all that snow! Brrr!
We're doing OK - ticking along........ Work is crazily busy for me and there are various changes going on at Tip Top too for Andi.
We had another long weekend at the beginning of Feb and we went upto Omaha beach for a friend's 40th birthday celebrations - it was a surprise and we managed to keep it all a secret from the birthday boy! We stayed in a lovely bach, about 3 minutes walk from the beach - the weather was beautiful and we enjoyed a couple of swims in the ocean (Mum even joined us!) On the Sunday, it was Andi's birthday, so we went to Ascension Winery, near Matakana, for a fabulous lunch.
Last weekend we had a quiet weekend and then this weekend, Mum & I had some pampering and spent yesterday afternoon at a fantastic spa, out in the country in the West of Auckland. Today, we've been into Auckland to enjoy afternoon tea at the Langham hotel!
Unfortunately Mum goes home next Friday.... She seems to have had a relaxing time during her stay so that's good.
It's been lovely having her to stay.
Anyway, will be in touch again soon - just thought I'd check in and say Hi.
Be good to hear from you when you have the chance
W & A
Apologies for doing this via e-mail/blog but we wanted to update those of you who are already aware of the situation and let others know .....
Andi has lost his voice and after taking antiobiotics and it not getting any better, our GP referred him to an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist - he could tell that the right hand side of Andi's voice box is not working and that something was pressing on the nerve to the voice box. so he sent Andi for a special ultrasound which he had on Tuesday this week.
Unfortunately, they found a suspicious looking lymph node and we've been back to see Mike (oncologist) today. The node was visible on the scan in May last year and it has actually got smaller but has changed in appearance. The radiation oncologist has looked at the scans and they don't think it is in the radiation field, so it is less likely to be radiation scarring, therefore, it is likely to be a reoccurence but if it is as small as they think it is (6mm) and is isolated and they can give it enough of a radiation dose, then they should be able to treat it
In order to do a definite diagnosis, they want to do an MRI scan as soon as possible next week. Mike is then away Weds-Fri, so we will probably not be able to see him again until next Saturday.....the waiting is awful but they are all trying to estabish all the facts so that they can give a correct diagnosis and formulate an action plan.
We will hear from Mike again on Monday with a date for the MRI, so in the meantime, we're trying to stay as positive as possible, which is incredibly hard....
Luckily we have our friends, Cameron (up from Christchurch) and Steve (who arrived from the UK today!) staying with us at the moment and I know everyone is thinking of us, so please keep all the positive vibes coming our way and we will let you know as soon as we know anymore.
Bye for now
W & A
I work at a hospital with about 2,000 beds and until very recently, there was no RN at all on staff in the radiation oncology unit. There are 3 physicians there doing treatments, if that tells you anything. http://doctorfinders.com/doctor.php?Provider=rpatel
Thanks to everyone that has contacted us with good wishes & positive vibes - please keep them coming. Andi had his MRI scan today but we're still waiting and probably won't have any more news until Saturday.
Will be in touch again as soon as we know more
W & A
We're still hanging on in there (just!) The MRI scan Andi had on Monday was inconclusive, so we now have a PET scan booked for Monday at 5pm. We have to go to Wellington (at least, there is now a PET scanner in NZ, otherwise it would have meant a trip to Oz) so we're flying down on Saturday and staying with Andi's cousins for the weekend, then they will take us to the hospital for the scan and we're flying back Tues lunchtime. The results should be with Mike (oncologist) by midday on Tues and we have an appointment with him at 6pm that evening.
Will let you know as soon as we know anymore. In the meantime, please keep all that positiveness coming our way.
W & A
We saw Mike (oncologist) tonight - the PET scan which Andi had last night unfortunately shows 4 areas of concern - at this stage, they appear to be cancerous lymph nodes - one at the base of the neck on the right hand side (which is affecting Andi's voice), one on the left collarbone, one in the chest area and one around the kidneys - Mike had not viewed the scan himself at this point. They are still talking about using radiation to shrink or control these areas and the next step is for us to see Maria (radiation oncologist) - hopefully later on this week or early next week. We are obviously still trying to get our heads around this latest update but they are still talking about being able to do something, so we have to hang onto that.
Will be in touch again when we have more news - please keep the positive & supportive vibes coming our way
W & A
We've now heard from Maria, the radiation oncologist - we are seeing her at 7pm tomorrow (Thurs) so at least not too much longer to wait
As always, will be in touch again when we have more news - Thanks for all the vibes & good wishes coming our way - it means a lot to both of us
W & A
We are now going to see Maria (radiation oncologist) on Tuesday evening next week - this is so that Andi's case can be discussed at the oncology team meeting next Tuesday.....so more waiting......
W & A
We saw Maria (radiation oncologist) tonight - Andi was discussed at the team meeting this afternoon and the concensus is that they won't do any radiotherapy at the moment.
Basically, the PET scan identified 6 positive lymph nodes (3 in the neck area and 3 in the kidney area). These are too small for surgery and they can only do localised radiotherapy to shrink them to relieve symptoms. Because Andi hasn't got any symptoms (apart from his lack of voice which can be sorted with a small op by the ENT surgeon) and is in no pain (apart from his muscular damage caused by him trying to white water kayak too soon) they won't do radiation, as that has it's own side effects.
Maria is going to speak to Mike tomorrow about whether there is any possibility of doing further chemo but otherwise, we have to try & get our heads around this and get on with our lives....
More in a few days when we have processed some of this!
W & A
Following our meeting with Maria last night, we have seen Mike this afternoon and it was a much more positive meeting - there are options for chemo: either drugs which Andi hasn't had, maybe the option to be part of a trial or perhaps the re-use of some drugs Mike used before. It has made both of us a lot brighter just to know that there are options. Whilst Mike investigates whether the trial is possible etc, he has told us to go ahead and go back to the ENT guy to sort out the minor op to sort out Andi's voice, so I have got us an appointment with him next Weds to discuss the procedure in more detail.
Mike also said that they have detected the reoccurence early and that in his experience, you might expect to see a growth appear on a CT within 3 months, yet Andi's nodes are still not really visible on a CT after 2-3 years, so that means anything that is growing is growing really slowly - another hugely positive piece of news.
If Mike does do chemo, then there are 3 possible outcomes:
1) either it does nothing to help - unlikely
2) it stuns the growth so it doesn't grow for a while or grows more slowly
3) it shrinks the growth completely or partially
Obviously option 3 would be best but even if it is shrunk completely, it is likely that another growth will pop up somewhere else as it's likely that there are other cancerous cells which can't be seen on the scans....but at least things are looking much more positive and Andi, I think can at last start to see that it is not 'game over' as he was thinking after our meeting yesterday.
We are off to stay with the rellies in Welly tomorrow evening for Easter, so looking forward to chilling out and enjoying some company for the long weekend.
Thanks to you all for your love & supoort - keep those positive vibes coming our way!
W & A
It looks like you guys are checking the blog again and people have been asking for the latest, so here it is!
We went down to Wellington for Easter and stayed with Kirsty & John and spent some time with Steven & Mandy - it was great to have a break and unfortunately even though Andi was in a lot of pain with his back (more on that later), we had great company and I got to have a few outings with Kirsty. Thanks once again guys, it was fab to stay and be looked after so well!
Since Andi's back pain seemed to be getting no better, we went to see a chiropracter on Wednesday last week - it would seem that because of Andi's surgery on his abdominal muscles, he has no core strength and his abdominals have not been supporting his back, therefore his vertebrae have been compressed and twisted - hence all the pain!
The chiropracter (Dr Murray Findlay - seemed like a good omen, since our oncologist Mike is Prof Findlay!) sent Andi for x-rays and has now done 3 days of manipulation which seems to be helping. Andi is seeing him again next week. He has also given Andi some gentle exercises to start building up his stomach muscles and core strength, so fingers crossed the chiropracter continues to help.
Anyway, this was supposed to be updating you on Andi's voice - just to recap, one of the lymph nodes is pressing on the nerve to the right hand vocal chord - in order to restore Andi's voice, the ENT surgeon can do a relatively simple procedure to insert an implant (made of gore-tex - Andi always was one for technical equipment!) which will allow the other vocal chord to meet with the gore-tex surface and therefore make the sound back to normal.
The procedure should also restore Andi's energy levels, since at the moment, his vocal chords don't meet and therefore air is continually escaping through them, reducing the energy levels. It is good to have an explanation for all these things!
The only bit that is freaking Andi out is they have to do the procedure under local anathestic, so that Andi can make sounds and the surgeon can see if all is in the right place! Andi will be having this procedure on Monday 4th May, so at least there isn't too much longer for him to manage with no voice.
Once Andi has had his voice fixed (it should only take about a week for the neck to heal) we will be going back to see Mike (oncologist) to discuss options for more chemo.
We've both been to see Carrol, the hypnotherapist again and yesterday I had some more Reiki which was fab. I had a massage today too and we both managed to get out of the house this afternoon - into Howick for a cuppa!
For those of you who have asked, Andi's planned trip to the UK has obviously been postponed for now and we'll let you know when we have another plan.
Anyway, you'll probably be regretting asking for an update if I go on any longer, so will be in touch again soon!
Please keep those positive, healing vibes winging our way!
Bye for now
W & A
Just a quick update - Andi is having the procedure done tomorrow to fix his voice. It's at Gillies Hospital (one of the few local hospitals we haven't visited yet!) at 3pm tomorrow, so please send out lots of supportive, healing vibes tomorrow afternoon.
Will be in touch again soon.
W & A
Hi Andrew and Wendy Popped around this afternoon and dropped of some daffodils. One day at a time Andrew just remember that. You have been in my thoughts and prayers all weekend and the vibes are strong as hell. Upwards and onwards. Talk to you around Friday, just don't rush it. Lots of love Mads
Thanks very much for all the good wishes that have come through - both on e-mail & text - Andi's op went well. We didn't get home from hospital til nearly 10pm last night but Andi had a reasonable night and I've worked from home today so I could keep an eye on him! We went to see the surgeon this morning who wanted to check that the implant hadn't moved - which it hadn't (Thank Goodness!)
Andi's voice is back but still croaky but will improve over the next few days as the swelling goes down. We'll see the surgeon again in 2 weeks time but for now, Andi just has to take it easy for a bit longer...
His back is improving but very, very slowly. He's having a week off from the chiropracter this week - back to him on Monday.
So that's us - be great to hear from you all and find out what you've all been upto - as you can imagine, life is not very exciting around here at the mo!
Bye for now
W & A
As always my love to you both, and good thoughts.
We saw Mike (oncologist) tonight and discussed options for further chemo. He wants to see us again on 10th June, so in a month's time, to give Andi's back a chance to improve and for Andi to feel better. Also, there is a big American conference at the end of May, about the biggest annual cancer conference that is held, so he wants to also wait and see if any new options/drugs are published at that conference.
After we've seen Mike on 10th June, Andi will have another CT scan to monitor the 6 lymph nodes and this will help to give a baseline prior to the chemo. Mike will probably do a course of chemo over 2-3 months initially and then do another CT scan and have another review with us.
There are still lots of unknowns and it is all about balance - between trying to hit the disease whilst it is still at a low level, with the highest level of drugs but also not to use all the drug options up and not have anything further to use in the future...
At least we now have a month to get Andi feeling better and to get his weight back up to a stable level (he's been really struggling to eat as he hasn't fancied food and the pain has meant he doesn't want to eat). We are going away this weekend, upto Matakana to stay in a cottage on a vineyard, with our friends, Natalie & Gavin, so we're really looking forward to having a break and a change of scenery.
It's great that some comments are starting to be posted on this blog again and we do love receiving e-mails, so please keep them coming.
Bye for now
W & A
Since it's been a while since we last blogged, I thought I'd get in touch even though there isn't much to report. Andi is still suffering with back pain, although the chiropracter is pleased with the adjustments he has made on his spine, he is now working on his ribs, so the pain has moved. Unfortunately the pain means that Andi can't really do too much, so we haven't been able to get out and about.
We did manage to have a lovely weekend away mid May, for my birthday. We went upto Matakana (about an hour North of Auckland) and stayed in a beautiful cottage set amongst a vineyard. It was so peaceful & quiet and we chilled out with our friends, Gavin & Natalie.
Other than that, I've been crazily busy at work and we've both just been plodding on - trying to take one day at a time, even one hour at a time some days!
Please keep those positive, supportive vibes coming our way.
W & A
I wrote a message on your blog some time ago. I have the same diagnosis as yourself. I've finally got through all my treatment and starting to feel stronger. I'm not sure if you're still suffering from nausea, I suffered quite a bit, even after the operation. I found that one of the drugs I was taking to keep my bowels moving was actually irritating my stomach lining, the drug was called Docusate. I also found that being fed via a Naso Gastric Tube took the pressure off trying to get calories in. As a consequence, I stopped most of my anti-sickness medication, which in turn stopped me having to take my bowel motion medication. Finally, one other drug that really helped with the sickness was Gaviscon peppermint tablets, they line the stomach which then blocks some of the nausea receptors, hence you feel much less sick. Note that all of the above was done after I had finished Chemo, but it may well work during Chemo.
We saw Mike again yesterday - there was some new research which came out a recent US conference - trials have been successful with chemo drugs in combination with Herceptin (breast cancer drug). 1 in 5 people have a marker and with this marker, treatment with Herceptin could be beneficial.
Mike is arranging for the test to be carried out (Andi's tumour which was removed is held in the Lab - apparently they keep them for upto 20 years!) so they will test that to see if it is positive for the marker. If so, Mike will look to use Herceptin on it's own, as Andi has already had treatment with the chemo drugs which were used in combination with the Herceptin in the trial and he has already explained there is no benefit in re-using chemo drugs he has already used.
Herceptin is given as an infusion, every 3 weeks and Mike would do 3 months treatment, then re-scan. Herceptin is an anti-body, not chemo and works by 'switching off' the genetic pathway of the cancer cells.
However, if Andi doesn't test positive for this marker, Herceptin won't be beneficial and in that case, Mike will commence chemo with gemcitabene. Not sure how often this is administered and Mike said he would probably do 2 months treatment, then re-scan.
So we at least have some options but now need to wait some more in order to get the results from the marker test.....if they are available next week, we will see Mike next Weds and if not, the following week.
Mike doesn't know yet whether Andi will need a port putting in (in his chest, to administer the drugs) - he will get Elsa (chemo nurse) to have a look at his veins, as it depends on how they are after all the previous chemo. If a port is needed, this can be done as day surgery by one of the surgeons at Mercy Hospital.
So that's where we are for now.
W & A
Since Andi's voice has not improved as much as it might have done and when we went to see the voice therapists last week, they said there was still a gap between the implant & the vocal cord which is working, we went back to see the ENT surgeon last week. He is now going to do a collagen injection into the vocal cord which isn't working to bulk it up and enable the gap to be closed. This will help improve Andi's voice and increase his energy levels, since there will no longer be air escaping through the gap.
So we have to be at Manuakau Superclinic at 8am on Friday (to make a nice change, this procedure is actually paid for by the Government!) and the injection is done under a general but Andi won't be out for too long.
We had word from Mike today too, that unfortunately he doesn't think he will have the marker test results back this week, so we'll probably go & see him next Weds.
We've not heard from some of you for a while - do keep in touch, it helps us to not feel so alone in all this.
Bye for now
W & A
I'm so sorry I'm so slack. I've no excuse for not logging in and letting you both know I care and I worry. I pray alot and I beg God to please make this all better for you both.
I can't for the life of me figure out why us good people suffer so much, I can only say that I'm so sorry all this is happening to you both again, and we "good" people know our rewards aren't going to be here, now, in this plane of existance. It doesn't make it any easier to deal with tho. I know. But optimisim is so important.
The brain is the most important thing we have physically. It controls everything. A good positive attitude has gotten me through many a bad situation, and I know you guys are quite positive people too. Just don't let the negative in. Refuse to accept it and it will have to go somewhere else.. Just please don't send it my way
I love you guys!!! I'm praying daily for you. If there's anything I can do for either of you, please tell me and I will do my damndest to make it happen.
Just to let you all know that the collagen injection went well today and the surgeon was pleased - apparently Andi spoke to the surgeon so he does have his voice back but I haven't heard it yet, as he has to completely rest it for the next 2-3 days, so no chatting just yet!
Thanks for your e-mails, texts & messages - do keep them coming.
Bye for now
OK, so we now have a plan: unfortunately Andi did not test positive for the Herceptin marker, so that treatment is not an option but next week, we start chemo with another drug, Gemcitabine. This is given as an infusion, which takes about an hour and a half, once a week, for 3 weeks, and then a week off. That is one cycle and Mike is going to do 3 cycles initially and then do another CT scan and compare against the baseline CT scan which Andi had done today.
Andi's voice is slowly getting stronger but he's still struggling with back pain.
We're treating ourselves to a night at a 5 star hotel in the city tomorrow, so looking forward to a change of scenery and some pampering!
Please keep in touch and keep those positive vibes coming our way...we need some extra ones at the moment...
Bye for now
W & A
Hi Guys, you both seem a very long way away but don't think that we ever stop worrying about you both. Good luck with the Gemcitabine hope it's not too bad and remember if it ain't hurtin' it ain't workin'.
All the luck of the Irish winging its way over to you.
Sorry not been in contact for a week or so, we've both been struggling to deal with this latest lot of chemo. The actual infusion went well last Wednesday and Andi wasn't too bad on Thursday & Friday but was suffering with nausea which got progressively worse during Saturday. I managed to get Mike to fax a prescription through to the pharmacy to pick up some new anti-nausea meds which have helped but Andi is still feeling pretty rough. Fingers crossed, his back seems to be a little better but we're not getting too excited yet! Can't believe we're back in tomorrow for round 2 - this second week has come round too quickly...
Not much else to report - please think of us tomorrow afternoon during treatment 2 of cycle 1...
I am still thinking of you and hope things go well with this next batch of treatment.
You guys kick this things butt! I'm always thinking of you two even when I'm not actively seen! You're both in my prayers!
Well, so far, so good. It seems we might finally have got Andi's nausea under control and today's infusion went well, so keeping everything crossed that this next week is better than last week.
Please keep your messages coming - it's great to hear from you all.
Bye for now
Well, it looks like we might have spoken too soon last week when we thought we had Andi's nausea under control - he had a pretty tough week with not many good days to break up the bad ones...we saw Mike yesteday to have a detailed discussion about controlling the nausea and it seems that since Andi has come off his morphine (which he was taking for his back pain), that is also contributing to the nausea caused by the chemo! So, we now have a new anti-nausea plan and we're hoping that that, and the fact we have a week off chemo next week, will mean that Andi will start to feel better soon.
Please keep your messages and positive vibes coming our way. We're both really struggling to deal with this at the moment...
W & A
Guys, my thoughts are with you from all the way over here in South Africa.
Hope you feel better soon Andi!
Sending happy thoughts your way. Keep in there
Andi, thinking of you and wish you well dude, cheers from the Bay of Plenty. Andrew G
Well, don't want to tempt fate but so far, so good - it seems we may finally have got Andi's nausea under control! Looks like morphine withdrawal symptoms were adding to the problem and now Andi is feeling a lot better, relatively speaking of course. The chemo is making him pretty wiped out but the nausea is definitely not as bad.
Andi's been having another alternative treatment called Neurolink - I don't know that much about it - but Andi finds it really calming and it seems to be improving his back too.
Otherwise, not much else to report - we love hearing from you all, so please keep in touch
Bye for now
W & A
How come this last week has gone so fast? Back in for week 2 of cycle 2 tomorrow. Trying to keep Andi as calm as possible. He's at least had a few good days this week. Keep those positive vibes coming our way please.
Bye for now
Well, still plodding on here! We've now finished cycle 2 and have another week off from chemo to look forward to next week. Andi is doing a lot better - the nausea is pretty much under control, his back is heaps better and although he's really wiped out from the chemo, he is able to do a bit more in terms of reading, e-mailing and he's got into code word puzzles, so he's keeping his brain ticking over!
Andi's got quite a few appointments this week - Tuesday is another Neurolink treatment, Wednesday he's seeing one of the counsellors at the Cancer Society and on Thursday, he has a Relaxation course. Thanks to everyone who is assisting us with lifts to either take Andi to places or pick him up - it really helps me not to have to do all the running about.
Luckily, work has calmed down considerably for me, so that's helped a lot.
So the plan is to do cycle 3 and then when that is over have another CT scan.
Will be in touch again soon
W & A
Well, we're gearing ourselves up for week 1 of cycle 3 this coming week. Not much other news at the mo...be good to hear how things are going with you all, when you get the chance.
We now have a digital photo frame and whilst we have quite a few piccies on there, it would be great if we could have some more of everyone, so do please e-mail us a few and we can have you on display!
Will be in touch again soon
W & A
Andi had a CT scan on Monday this week and we saw Mike tonight to get the results - all good! What a relief!
Some of the nodes have shrunk, some have stayed the same but most importantly, none have grown. We re-start another 3 cycles of chemo next week but at least we know it's working.
A celebratory takeaway tonight I think and then hopefully a better night's sleep for the both of us.
Bye for now
W & A
Had a bit of a disappointment today, Andi can't start cycle 4 of chemo til next week, as he has a chest infection. At least it explains why he's been so poorly. We know we have to be sensible and if he doesn't give his body a chance to heal, then the chest infection could turn into pneumonia. It just means being one week later starting, we won't finish til 16th Dec, so Andi will only have a week and a half to start to feel better before Christmas...oh well, there's nothing we can do about it. Andi is on antibiotics now so hopefully they will kick in soon.
I'm also on antibiotics and have had this week off work so far as I have a throat infection. So not a very well household. I guess we did quite well to not pick up any bugs until now...Just a shame we coincided!
So a quiet rest of the week and a quiet weekend, then we should be good to start chemo again next Weds...
Andi can't really chat on the phone at the mo as talking makes him cough but please do keep your e-mails coming and for those face-bookers amongst you, it's great to get your messages on there too.
Bye for now
W & A
Andi was well enough to re-start his chemo today, so he's just had 1st week of cycle 4.
Nothing much else to report at the mo but will be in touch again soon
W & A
Well we've now finished cycle 4, so going into a week off from chemo this week - yeah! Also just enjoyed a long weekend, since it's Labour day here today. We actually managed to get away for a night - stayed at a hotel in the city last night. I had tickets to see Swan Lake, the ballet which was brilliant and Andi chilled out at the hotel, then we had dinner at a Japanese restaurant - yes, actually made it to a restuarant for a meal!! Then today, we popped into Botany briefly, then have been chilling out at home, since the rain has returned (again!) this afternoon!
Keep those e-mails & messages coming guys
Bye for now
W & A
Sorry been a bit slack at keeping in touch, don't know where the time goes at the moment!
Anyway, we're plodding on and head into week 2 of cycle 5 tomorrow, so at least the end finally seems to be in sight. Next week is last week of cycle 5, then just one more cycle to go.
Not much else to report for now - Andi's parents arrive tomorrow to stay for 3 weeks.
Will be in touch again soon
W & A
We started cycle 6 of Andi's chemo today. All went well and now there are only 2 more weeks to go!
Andi's parents left to go on their sub-antartic cruise on Monday this week and my Mum arrives tomorrow!
Hope this finds everyone well and getting ready for Christmas. Will be in touch again soon
W & A
We're on countdown now as Andi has his last chemo on Wednesday this week - Thank goodness! It's been a really long 6 months.
Also on countdown to nearly 2 weeks off work! I finish up on Christmas eve and don't go back til 5th January. Mum is here with us now and my brother and sister-in-law join us on 27th. We're all spending a week in Nelson (top of the South Island for non Kiwis) - really looking forward to some R&R!
Thanks to those of you who have sent us Christmas cards - much appreciated.
Hope everyone has a happy and safe holidays and here's to a happier, healthier year for next year!
Happy New Year all!
Hope everyone enjoyed their New Year celebrations. We had a great week down in Nelson (at the top of the South Island) with my Mum, my brother Rob and sister-in-law, Misha. Nelson was lovely - really funky little city with a beautiful river running through it. We stayed in a bach within a few minutes walk of the city and we could walk into the shops and cafes along the river. We came back home on Saturday and Rob & Misha are now touring around Motueka and the Abel Tasman area and fly back upto Auckland next Sunday.
Unfortunately Andi has been quite poorly since we got back so we've had a couple of really quiet days. Hopefully he will start to pick up over the next few days. He has another CT scan next Monday and then we see Mike (our oncologist) next Wednesday for the results - keeping everything crossed that the last 6 months of chemo will have sorted out the 6 positive lymph nodes.....always a stressful time when we're waiting for a scan and the results....please send some extra positive vibes our way.
I'm back to work tomorrow but I have a couple more days leave booked next week when Rob & Misha are back in Auckland, so I can ease myself back in gradually!
Will be in touch again soon - be great to hear from you when you get the chance
W & A
We saw Mike this afternoon following Andi's CT scan on Monday - the scan showed that the lymph nodes in the neck area have shrunk (they stayed the same on the last scan in Sept) and the lymph nodes in the kidney are have stayed the same (they had shrunk from the July scan to the Sept scan). There were no new areas which had popped up either.
Mike was pleased with the results of the chemo - the drug that he has used over the last 6 months (Gemcitabine) is normally used for pancreatic cancer and Mike commented that he would now use this drug again on oesophageal cancer so that shows he was pleased with the results. Mike will see us again early March to see how Andi is feeling then and check there are no problems and then he will do another CT scan at the end of April.
Whilst Andi is pleased that there is nothing new and he doesn't need any more chemo at the moment, he is still struggling to get his head around the fact that no-one can tell him it has gone for good.....but our focus now is to get Andi fitter and feeling better.
We are going to investigate one on one pilates so that Andi can strengthen his core muscles, which in turn will support his back - as he has still been having a bit of trouble with back pain. Andi is also back seeing the chiropracter at the moment and having Neurolink treatment so that is all helping too.
I've taken the next 2 days as annual leave from work and we're going to spend some time with Rob & Misha at the beach (before they fly home on Saturday) so looking forward to that!
Keep those e-mails & messages coming - we do like to hear your news - although at the moment, I guess a lot of the news is connected with all that snow you guys in the Northern hemisphere have got at the mo - Brrrrr!! I won't tell you that we've been having warm & sunny weather then!
W & A
Great to catch up with you guys yesterday, you were in my thoughts all of today. I'm so glad that the news is good!
Great news guys, Lets hope this means you can enjoy 2010.
All the best for 2010 from Russ and the boys at ChesterMTB
Can't believe it's mid Feb already!! We've just come back from a week away at the beach to celebrate Andi's 40th birthday! Our friends, Stephen & Lynn arrived from the UK on 2nd February and on 5th Feb, we all travelled upto Matapouri, just North of Tutukaka. Natalie & Gavin also joined us and we had a great time - staying in a fabulous luxury bach, only 200 metres from beautiful Matapouri Bay. The weather was fantastic and we went swimming most days. We had a birthday BBQ for Andi on Monday, which Martin & Jill joined us for and enjoyed lots of food & drink out on the deck, including a chocolate birthday cake in the shape of the number '40' which I made for Andi!
The original plan was for us to all travel to Rotorua on Friday for the weekend but unfortunately Andi was not feeling that good, so the Elliotts have gone to explore Rotorua and we've stayed at home to have a quiet weekend so Andi can rest. We'll then spend some more with them this coming week and next weekend, before they fly home.
That's all for now folks!
W & A
OK, thought it was about time we sent out an update since people have been a bit shocked when we've told them about Andi's new wheels, so let me explain....
Since finishing chemo in Dec last year, Andi has had very little energy and his energy levels have not really picked up yet - when we say very little energy - if he walks from our bedroom into the living room (our house in on one level and it's not very far from any of the rooms) he has to sit down as he is worn out. It seems Andi is suffering from cancer fatigue or chronic fatigue which may last anything from 6 to 18 months, or even 2 years. It seems from reading up on it, that cancer fatigue is very common and unfortunately there is no magic answer, just time. Andi is also suffering from anaemia, again very common and is now on iron tablets which once they kick in, should help with the energy levels. Anyway, since he can't really walk anywhere, he was stuck at home and getting lower and lower, so he started to investigate wheelchairs with the result that last Friday he purchased a light-weight wheelchair that folds up and he can put it in his car. He's fine driving, so at least now he can start to get some of his independence back and be able to go out & about a bit more. The people that we've mentioned this to so far have been really shocked, so hopefully now things will make a bit more sense.
It feels like we've turned a bit of a corner, as Andi is feeling more positive now. His back is a lot better and he's only seeing the chiropracter every fortnight. He's started rehab Pilates/Physio and has exercises to practice at home. Amongst all this, he also ended up with a trapped femeral nerve and the new drugs he is on seem to be easing that too. We're also got his stomach problems a bit more under control, so things are starting to look up.
We've had a quiet week or so, since our friends went home to the UK and have a night away to look forward to this weekend to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary!
Be great to hear your news, so do get in touch when you have a minute
Bye for now
W & A
We had a follow up with Mike (oncologist) last Weds and he diagnosed Andi with (extremely!) low blood pressure and wanted him to see a cardiologist. Andi had an echo scan (ultrasound of the heart) yesterday and we saw Dr Chris Ellis today. Basically Andi now has a moderately impaired heart, ie his heart is now slightly weaker. This damage has been caused by the chemo that Andi has had, particularly cisplatin (which he had in 2007) and Taxotere (in 2008). This moderate impairment when combined with all the recent chemo Andi has had is what is causing his low blood pressure. Whilst his heart may pick up again, it may not but should not get any worse. Because Andi's body has been deconditioned by chemo and his heart is not as strong, we need to try to get his cardiovascular system 'trained' up again. He will need to take things very slowly and Chris has suggested that initially he tries to do short walks from room to room in the house, several times a day. Chris got Andi to have some more blood tests today and the results should be available on Thursday. Chris will check how anaemic Andi is and if necessary, he will speak to Mike about Andi having a blood transfusion to 'perk' Andi up a bit. He also confirmed that we are OK to travel, so for those of you who don't know, we fly to the UK next Thursday for a holiday!
We're trying to minimise our travelling once we get to England and have tried to base ourselves in a couple of places and have people come to see us! Apologies now to those who we won't have a chance to catch up with....
Bye for now
W & A
Got some exciting news - I have a new job! I resigned from Cerebos Gregg's a week ago, where I've worked since shortly after we arrived in April 2005. It's been a great job, with a fantastic boss (Thanks Andrew!) but there have been a lot of changes recently and Andrew is no longer my boss, so I decided that it was time for a new challenge. I'm going to be Quality Assurance Manager at Griffins Foods who manufacture biscuits, crisps (or chips, depending on which country you are in!), nuts and muesli bars. There are 2 sites and I will be responsible for the site which makes chips, nuts & muesli bars. I start on 3rd May, so have our 4 week holiday in the UK, followed by a week at home to recover from my jet lag, then I will have a fresh start in a new job. Really happy about it all and because of my annual leave which is obviously already booked, my last day at Cerebos is actually tomorrow!!
Bye for now
Sorry for passing on this news in this way but we're not really not upto keep repeating this on the phone....
We had a follow up appointment with Mike on Weds this week and then yesterday Andi had a CT scan and we saw Mike this morning for the results, which unfortunately were not what we wanted to hear. Despite the Jan CT scan indicating that Andi's chemo last year had been successful, this latest scan shows a new tumour, down in the lumbar region of Andi's back, in between the stomach and the back of the body. There are also some new areas of growth within the liver but at this stage they are not big enough to cause any problems and there are some more enlarged lymph nodes higher up in Andi's neck.
This new tumour explains both Andi's low blood pressure and the bad nerve pain he has been having in both his legs. The reason is that the tumour has caused one of the lumbar pieces to fracture and this is causing pressure on a large nerve 'control area' (don't know the proper word) which controls all the nerves in the legs. This is why Andi has been having such bad nerve pain in his legs. These nerves also control the veins in the legs which return the blood to the heart which is causing low blood pressure. (It seems that the cardiologist has re-examined Andi's echo scan and apparently a very 'athletic' person's heart can appear the same as an impaired heart on an echo sound and because Andi used to be so fit, this may be what has happened, so they now think that perhaps Andi's heart has not been damaged).
The focus now is to get Andi's pain under control and get him feeling better. There are no immediate plans to do more chemo since at this stage, Mike has used all the drugs available to him plus Andi is not fit enough to cope with more chemo at the moment. There is a big cancer conference in the US in June, so Mike will see if anything new comes up then and he is going to investigate clinical trials but with such low blood pressure, Andi would not currently be eligible to enter a clinical trial anyway. There may be a possibility of doing radiotherapy on the tumour to shrink it and thus ease some of the pressure on the nerves, which would obviously help with reducing the pain too. We have an appointment tomorrow with Maria, radiation oncologist to discuss further.
We have been to see a pain specialist today at the local hospice. Both Andi & I freaked out when Mike first mentioned the word hospice but it is not just for when people are nearing the end, they also offer a lot of out-patient care including ongoing pain management. They have started Andi on a new regime of drugs today, so hopefully they will start to alleviate some of Andi's pain. He has also started on a drug to retain fluid to increase blood volume, to try to assist with low blood pressure.
Now that Andi is registered with the hospice, one of the nurses will come out to visit us next week and Andi's pain management will then be managed by the nurse, the doctors at the hospice in conjunction with our GP.
I think we are both still in shock and trying to come to terms with this - by all means drop us an e-mail or give us a call but maybe give us this weekend before you call, so that we can start to get our heads around things a bit. Also, we're not really up to discussing all the details or answering questions at this point because we don't have the answers. However, please do keep in touch - we need all your support now more than ever.
W & A
I'm so sorry to hear the rough news. You both are extremely strong and you will fight this battle too. There's nothing I can say that will help you or take away the hurt you both feel over this. I will just say you are both still and always in my prayers. You're both here for a reason and I love you both!
Andi goes for his planning appointment & scan tomorrow and then starts radiotherapy on Wednesday this week.
Thanks for all the lovely e-mails, texts and FB messages - please keep them coming. We have got some amazing friends and one of them, Steve is coming out to see us next Tuesday to stay for 2 weeks - it means so much and will be a huge help to know that someone is looking after Andi whilst I am at work.
My first day in my new job went well - I will certainly be kept busy, there is lots to do!
Bye for now
W & A
Just wanted to give you a quick update - Andi finished his 5 radiotherapy treatments today, so hopefully over the next 1-2 weeks, he will get good pain relief. He is already in slightly less pain from the new drug regime that the pain specialist doctor has put him on and the tablets he is on for his low blood pressure also seem to be working as he is much less wobbly and able to walk more easily without feeling so faint. The hospice nurse has been popping out to see him regularly and they've dropped off a walker today which he can use around the house.
I saw the counsellor at the hospice yesterday which was useful but quite hard, since it made everything seem more real.....she is coming out to see Andi tomorrow, so hopefully he will find it helpful too.
Please keep all your messages coming and if you want to call then we'd love to hear from you. Just remember we're 11 hours ahead for those of you who are upside down!
Bye for now
W & A
Just to let you know that Andi is feeling a bit better now as his pain is far more under control. We're really trying to take one day at a time.....
Steve flew home today - it was great having him here (a BIG Thanks for coming out to look after us mate and a BIG Thanks also to Lynn for sharing him!)
I've had a chat to my boss today and he has agreed that I can reduce my hours down to 3 days a week, so that I have some more time to spend with Andi whilst he is feeling better. We've got a weekend at home this weekend, going to try and catch up on our admin so that we can then do some fun things!
We're going down to Welly to see the rellies for Queen's birthday weekend, which is the 1st weekend in June, so looking forward to that. Then we've also booked a trip to Australia, flying to Sydney on 13th June and staying for 3 nights. Both of us have been to Sydney but we haven't been together. Then we're flying from Sydney upto the Gold Coast in Queensland for 4 nights. Whilst we're there, we're going to do a Dolphin Encounter at Seaworld - something Andi has always wanted to do. So we have some fun things to look forward to and we get back to Auckland on 20th June, then Andi's friend Paul arrives the following day to stay with us for a couple of weeks.
Please do keep your e-mails, FB messages and phone calls coming - we need to hear from friends & family at the moment. Don't worry about getting the time wrong either when you phone - we turn the ringer off on the phone in our bedroom so we won't be disturbed if you do phone in the middle of the night!
Bye for now
W & A
Thanks for all the messages & calls - please keep them coming!
We had a great weekend down in Wellington - the weather wasn't very kind to us (howling gales & torrential rain!) but it was really good to spend time with the rellies. Us girls went to see the movie Sex & the City 2 which was good fun. Andi wasn't upto doing too much but it was good to be able to catch up with family.
Andi's been really worn out since we got back, so he's just been resting and sleeping when he needs to, so that he's OK for our trip to Oz on Sunday.
I've been off work for the last 2 days as I've had a really sore throat - after lots of rest I am feeling better, so think it is exhaustion, rather than any infection.
Andi's very worried about travelling to Australia but we are flying business and have assistance booked, so I'm sure it will be fine. We're both looking forward to our trip, spending some time together and doing some fun things.
Will be in touch again when we get home
W & A