Living scan to scan can take its mental toll and as you know I have been on a bit of a rollercoaster over the last few months. As my last scans had showed an indeterminate anomaly with a chest lymph node on my scan I was feeling slightly nervous as I headed to the Marsden for my latest results last Friday. It sometimes feels like turning up at the teachers door for exam results not knowing if you have managed to scrape past or not, except in this case the results can have a much more fundamental meaning as there may be no resits. This may sound over dramatic but I felt rattled to the core earlier this year after my experience earlier in March plus I also saw from 2 other friends who also had stage 4 melanoma just how quickly things can change and they are sadly no longer with us.
I am a glass half full person and live every day to the fullest as my Dad taught me that and cancer has made me even more determined that that’s how I’ll be living my life. I used to be worrying about deadlines for work or what I’d be wearing to the next party but that all falls into insignificance when you are waiting to hear if you’ll sill be alive and kicking in 3 months time. Of course no one knows that but living with not one but 2 cancers means my odds are not ones you would be betting the house on. Saying that and with my positive hat on I am still here four years on from that stage 4 melanoma diagnosis and that almost certainly wouldn’t have been the case 10 years ago. So my trip to the Marsden on Friday was a good one, my latest scan results are all good, there is no issue now with the chest lymph node and my Oncologist was correct it was likely due to the COVID vaccine. I left the hospital armed with cycle (months) 42, 43 and 44 of the wonder targeted drugs Debrafenib and Trametinib looking a bit like a Mexican drug lord and felt elated to be passing go for the next 3 months. Thank you as always to the fantastic melanoma team and also a big thank you to the radiology team. I am a frequent flyer at the Marsden for scans I haven’t counted the number I have had but it is a LOT. The radiographers are amazing calming the patients, chatting to you knowing your name as they see you there so often and putting you at ease while understanding you are going through a stressful experience. They are then reporting on the scans in super speedy turn around time so that everything is ready for your doctor by the next appointment. They are some of the unsung heroes at the hospital and often go under the radar when they play such a key role in your overall care and deserve a big thank you.
With the lockdown starting to lift in the UK I have been beyond excited to catch up with friends and family. It has felt so special to see people in person and such a treat to go out and eat dinner. It was also lovely to get out of London and see the hiking gang and those simple things that you used to take for granted are really a special treat. We are also in countdown mode for our trip north of the border after 3 cancelled trips from the autumn through Xmas plus we have had to postpone our planned trip to the Outer Hebrides until next year, however, we are all set to head there later this month and cant wait to see the gorgeous parentals and family.
As we reach the start of May it’s Melanoma Awareness Month and Team Shomelanoma are kicking off the Skipathon Challenge starting today May 1. It’s going to be a lot of fun, we’ll be skipping for 10 mins every day and there’s going to be some funny videos and pics to share. I have to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has signed up for the challenge and a big mention to Christchurch and Holy Trinity Primary School where my lovely friend Avis Hawkins is Head Teacher and approximately 400 of the children there will be joining the Skipathon for the month to help raise funds for melanoma research at the Royal Marsden. Having seen some of them practicing their skipping this week they are looking pretty good. We’ll be sharing some fun photos and videos throughout the month so look out for them, we are beyond excited to get going well some more than others David will be getting his new skipping rope out of the bag tomorrow and attempting to skip for the first time in many years, look out for that video. Full details of the skipathon .
I also have to say a BIG thank you to gorgeous friends Chris Lloyd and Nicki Millward who both took part in the virtual Royal Parks Half marathon on April 11. Chris ran along the banks of the Thames with David alongside him on his bike for moral support. As many of you know Dave is a regular at the Royal Parks half marathon (he is featured in the Marsden Progress Magazine this month) but he is saving himself for the next Royal Parks half marathon in October so that he can get his running back up to speed. Jane and I were on our bikes too in the support crew and Chris finished in a good time under 2 hrs. Nicki was running close to home in the Malverns and also did an excellent time of 1 hr 54 Thank you to both of them and everyone who supported their amazing effort.
If you would like to join any of the upcoming fundraising challenges or organize your own please let me know. I will be doing a full update on the melanoma research projects the funding is supporting in an upcoming blog.
As the weather starts to heat up in the UK we will no doubt see the excitement of the British public stripping off as soon as they see the sunshine. Remember that UV damage is cumulative and to protect you skin and stay out of the mid day sun. Most importantly don’t get burnt and if you do notice any changes to any moles or new skin lesions get them checked out by a GP or dermatologist. The motto is if in doubt get it checked out and don’t delay. Melanoma UK is an excellent source of the key warning signs to look out for
Thank you as always for all of your support. I’ll be back soon to report on a full update on the Skipathon next month.