We rose early Tuesday and walked up the towpath from NB Val through Leighton Buzzard, across a green park, and strolled into the train station where Les bought our off-peak tickets (travel allowed only during non-high impact times--in other words after the poor rats have made the morning and evening race-commute.)
I noted in my diary that it was exactly a year ago to the day that Les began Radiotherapy without which Mr. H refused to operate to remove the cancerous rectal mass as he said radiotherapy was required prior to surgery to shrink the tumor. Radiotherapy which--and I quote directly from notes taken at the meeting with Dr. J--the Oncologist at Mount Vernon, who said, "the short course Radiotherapy will not shrink anything but it will assure that the cancer does not return to the bowel or metastasize."
The train traveled quickly past villages and towns we know well from our travels on our boat until it arrived at London's Euston station which was a first for me.
This trip to the Royal Free Hospital to meet the liver specialist was also a dry run for me to suss out the station and the bus for future daily expeditions.
|Passengers wait for platform numbers to post on reader boards.|
Les showed me where the cash point (ATM) and the toilets were and we left via a side exit to Eversholt street where we walked about 500 feet and stood waiting for the 168 bus--which was of course--diverted due to road works that began October 6th and will run until the 17th. This rather large diversion means the 168--which is scheduled to arrive every 6-10 minutes--is running on average thirty minutes late.
This put paid to Les' brilliant idea of arriving early and walking up to Hampstead Heath to eat our homemade picnic lunch in the quiet of nature. Instead we sat on the wall of the hospital facing Pond Street, people watching in the brilliant sunlight; specifically we enjoyed two groups of primary school children, walking two-by-two, holding hands as their minders led and followed.
|The wall where in front of the RFH where we dined Al Fresco.|
This was the third time now that we've eaten lunch wherever we could find a spot in a busy town for various reasons. I told Les he was going to have to stop spoiling me with all these romantic Al Fresco dining opportunities for fear they might go to my head!
|RFH check-in kiosks.|
Professor D.--a liver specialist, instructor (this is a teaching hospital) and surgeon was right on time. We met with him and his nurse assistant. I took detailed notes as I always do for all Les' appointments. Professor D. took Les' general health history, examined Les (strong heart, good clear lungs, no liver enlargement or tenderness) and proceeded to tell us about Les' scan which showed 2 lesions on the right section of his liver. In his opinion they are doubtless rectal cancer cells which typically travel to the liver, since all the blood in our body sweeps through and is cleansed by our liver every 14 minutes and it travels from the bowels to the liver. Professor D. said removing thirty percent of Les' liver on the right side (which automatically includes the gall bladder which is hooked into the liver there) offers Les "a very good chance of a cure, although there are no guarantees." Ah yes how well we know...
"What about chemotherapy?" the Professor asked.
"I'm not interested in chemo," replied Les.
"Have you spoken with an Oncologist?"
"Yes, Dr. J. at Mount Vernon."
We mentioned we live on a narrow boat and continuously cruised and the Professor's face cracked into a lovely smile.
"Well then," he said in his Scottish accent, "We'll do the surgery aboard your boat. You've got a dining table, yeah? And some rum?" We laughed and nodded in the affirmative. "All right then we'll call it a day trip." With that Professor D. left us with his nurse assistant to fill us in on some of the details.
Les goes in next week for a pre-op and fitness appointment. The surgery will be scheduled sometime between then and November 2nd. It will take place at the RFH in London. Les will be on the operating table for 5-6 hours so with pre-surgery and post-op recovery it means I'll be waiting there all day. After recovery he will spend the first 24 hours in Intensive care and then move to a specialist floor. Recovery in hospital takes 7-10 days if all goes well (no infections) and then he will come home to recover further for another three months.
So far the services received to date from the RFH have been good. Quick appointments, kept on time, and quick follow-up directly by phone.
|Les snaps a selfie of our reflection in a window on a busy London street.|
|I could live in the British Library! This view is from our table across the street.|
|The sunset skyline of St. Pancras station rising behind the British Library.|
|Dear Sir waits for our vegetarian pizza to arrive as we sit and enjoy the view.|
Chemo, radiation, and surgery do not cure cancer. Cytotoxic cancer treatments destroy cells--good and bad--with the hope the patient will survive the treatment and the disease will hibernate in remission. Surgery removes the diseased portions of the body. None "cure" cancer.
We hope this was caught in time for us to reverse Les' body chemistry so that cancer can no longer continue to grow and flourish inside him and his immune system will grow healthy enough to stand guard once more.
We are so very thankful for everyone's hopeful, positive thoughts and prayers on his and our behalf and the unwavering support we've been offered by our families and our community on the cut.
We are thankful for each other and this glorious life of freedom and peace lived as continuous cruisers. We really appreciate Canal & River Trust officers working with us during this difficult time. (And I personally am thankful this operation is not taking place at Watford General.)