Cam is finally looking hot

Posted on September 28th, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

I got discharged from hospital yesterday after a week of testing, or should I say, a testing week. Not before picking up some kind of virus that has sent my temperature to the 38-39.5 range, causing severe headaches and mixed messages to my body. One minute I am in bed with a 39.5 degree temperature, shivering uncontrollably. Then I am trying to get cool again with ice-packs all over while dripping with sweat. At least I am home, and I am thankful for that.

I won’t write much tonight or probably for the next few days if I continue feeling this way. Very difficult to do anything at the moment, just because of the virus.

I will write in more detail later, but I was discharged after the consultants (Haematology, Oncology, Orthopaedics) agreed my hip was ok to walk on. The Haematology specialist that gave us the chat the other night outlining the severity of my diagnosis came back in the morning and said, “This is a very tricky case”. He said it with enough expression on his face that he had better news to follow. The expected diagnosis that we had received from 4 or 5 Doctors was now unconfirmed in the hip. It seems that my hip should be OK in 2 weeks with partial-weight-bearing with the frame or crutches – no surgery needed!

The ‘but’ is that the report said they have located 2 other suspicious areas, one on my rib and the other on my pelvis. According to the report, the one on the pelvis most likely represents another plasmacytoma (as is in my sternum). I will be having further tests over these next few weeks to work out what is going on. Chemotherapy has been put on hold until we know what is going on.

This has been the second time we have been through this process of having “The Chat” and then been told better news. You can understand that we are emotionally exhausted. Good to be home.

We now understand that this is the nature of this particular cancer. It is very difficult to find as it is so patchy, it can be in your bones but remain undetected, and it can be confusing at the best of times to get definite answers on. My belief about the end results haven’t really changed, it is just that the journey through it may get a bit rougher than we previously anticipated.

I may be out of action for the next couple of days until I shake this virus.


The Walk Beside now requires a walking frame.

Posted on September 22nd, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

I am home today. I was able to get weekend leave from the hospital until tomorrow night. We have had some great news since last night. The Orthopaedic Surgeon saw me this morning and said that the fracture was on the top of the neck of femur and wasn’t really jeopardising the strength of the hip at this stage, so they are going to hold off on surgery. This was the best news and started the day off on a real positive.

The events of last night are still sinking in, and we are still in a bit of confusion as to what my situation is. Here is what has happened in the last day or so.

• Yesterday morning, went from the orthopaedic ward to my usual 8:40 radiotherapy appointment. Had a chat with the Oncologist who is overseeing my therapy. She upgraded my diagnosis to Multiple Myeloma. The decision was made to continue radiotherapy still as we are half-way through.
• Went straight to X-ray and had a full skeletal assessment done.
• Back to the ward for 5 mins, then down to CT for a scan on my hip.
• Just rested in the afternoon. At about 5pm we got a visit from a Haematologist who gave us ‘the chat’ outlining the new diagnosis and prognosis involving high-dose chemo, stem-cell infusions, etc. They’ve decided to redo alot of test next week to reassess the stage of the cancer.
• We fell apart a bit.
• We have got the best friends and family ever surrounding us. It wasn’t long after remembering this (not that we have ever forgotten) that we were able to take the photo in the last post of Libs and I smiling. I don’t want to give people the wrong impression by having people think that everything is rosy and we smile in the face of adversity consistently. Last night was tough, and that’s the second time we have had to hear ‘that chat’.
• Quite a surreal experience for us though, 6-8 of us crammed into a bed cubicle, curtains around, eating smuggled in Pad-Thai, laughing with friends about 20 mins after hearing news about a tough road ahead.
• Once everyone left, said goodnight to a teary Elizabeth. I was exhausted. I kept the curtains closed, downed some sedatives and painkillers, put ear-plugs in, turned the lights off, put a shirt over my eyes and went to sleep in awe of the people around me and thankful to the God who sorts this stuff out perfectly.
• This morning, Orthopaedic Surgeon number 1did the rounds and told me surgery may not be necessary! Nice.
• Orthopaedic Surgeon number 2 (the head honcho) came and told us that we could go home, he wasn’t as concerned about the hip strength. This kind of made us uneasy. How could an assessment be so different to what we have been told in the last 12 hours? We are still confused, but at least we were able to come home as long as I only partially weight-bear on my left leg. I had my crash-course on how to use a walking-frame and crutches, and now we are home watching football (that is the strangest thing).
• Just got a call from the hospital saying no partial weight-bearing, now it is totally non-weight-bearing.
• You can probably understand why we are a little confused about things at the moment.
• In brief, I probably don’t need surgery to fix the hip. I’m allowed weekend leave, as there are no more tests that needs to be done over the weekend. I will go back to hospital on Sunday night for bone scans, blood test and CT results, bone marrow biopsies next week to help clarify what the next step will be.
• Good to be home for a bit.



Posted on September 21st, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

hospital.jpg Yesterday I was asked to check myself in to emergency department as my hip showed a pathological fracture. It took a few hours to get through as there is a bed shortage but eventually I was admitted to the orthopaedic ward. In the initial assessment in Emergency, the orthopaedic specialist identified that there was another lesion on my hip.
This was not great news but Elizabeth and I were half prepared for news of this kind. The pain in my hip has been a strange pain- deep and aching. Unusual.
The day started today with my usual radiotherapy appointment. Elizabeth and I were able to see the Oncologist. The lesion in the hip is cancer, and so my diagnosis has gone back to Multiple Myeloma. From there it was onto full body scan and a CT of my hip.
I was able to rest a bit this afternoon and then at about 5 o’clock I was visited by a haematology consultant that will be working with my current consultant. Elizabeth, Carms and I sat and listened as he went through the most likely process. I need to have surgery on my hip to treat the fracture either this weekend or next week. We are still waiting the results of the CT scan to determine what this surgery will involve. I am not allowed to weight bare on my left leg and I am now bound to either a walking frame or the bed. I will be undergoing tests to totally re-evaluate the prognosis. I will now go onto chemo while I am on radiotherapy.
I am sitting in hospital now surrounded by great friends and family. I am in good hands.


The Hobble Beside

Posted on September 20th, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

The hospital called today with the results of the X-ray on my hip. It is showing a pathalogical fracture. I was requested to stay a little while longer at radiotherapy tomorrow to have further tests (CT). I got a call about 10 minutes later asking to get the CT done this afternoon. 10 minutes after that I got a call to come into ED at the hospital to check myself in as an inpatient and to not walk on that leg.
I was at the workshop at the time I got the calls. Elizabeth left work and picked me up. We are now at home just grabbing a pair of jocks and a toothbrush. I am trying to work out what would be appropriate bed attire for a shared room. A bit of excitement leading up to the weekend it seems. At this stage it is a process to make sure that everything is ok to walk on, so I don’t think it will be a major setback. It is just going to make playing Twister all the more challenging.
Hopefully be back before the weekend. Till then, break a leg.

1 comment.

Fiercely Dependent

Posted on September 20th, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

I hear a few people every now and then describe themselves as independent. This may refer to their character, their finances, their decision making skills, their ability to cope with life’s problems, their determination to get through things on their own, etc. or whatever other aspects make up an independent individual. I have a great deal of admiration for those people that can say they have got through on their own, battled through adversity without having to depend or rely on others and come out the other side successfully. I, on the other hand, am fiercely dependant.
I am not saying this as an admission that has taken me a while to verbalise, I’ve known for years. I bask in the fact. I have no hesitation in stating with absolute certainty that I could not have made it to this point without people generously pouring themselves into my life. As much as I am able to admire other peoples’ independence, I don’t really want to venture down that path. I have experienced so much in the way of people giving of themselves to make my life better, easier, funner (it will be a word one day), richer, cheaper and deeper. Why the heck would I want to go independent?
There is an insight you get into one’s character when you allow them to do stuff for you, when you declare you need someone’s help, when you give them permission to be generous. I have been learning a lot about how ready people are to look after people given the opportunity. These are golden moments where a healthy humility meets a willing outpouring, where a person says let me help you, or when we get to the point where we ask someone to step in and help.
Not a day is going by at the moment when I am not mindful and thankful for the people in my life that show me that my dependence on them is significant.


Libs and I at Araluen before radiotherapy started. This is the ‘before’ shot. I haven’t got an ‘after’ shot just yet, so just imagine my chest is a bit red and I am a little more ‘swollen’ or ‘puffy’. I have been feeling pretty weak this last week. My hip has been giving me a bit of pain for about 10 days now and it hasn’t been getting better really so I was able to have Xrays done yesterday to find out what is going on there. Apart from that, I am really struggling in my concentration. I am finding that the fatigue that they hinted about before radiotherapy might actually be true. I am almost completely off steroids now so I am not sure what to expect over the next few weeks considering I went from feeling like a 94 year old man to Superman within 12 hours of starting them. My legs, however, stayed looking like the 94 year old man’s throughout the course of treatment.


Shed and box

Posted on September 19th, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.


This is the shed (background), and this is the box (foreground) it came in. It is the only shed in the neighbourhood that comes with double-sided tape and velcro as components.


My Shed Cred is Dead

Posted on September 13th, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

I like sheds. If I wasn’t living where I am living, I would like to live in a big shed where I could pull my car right into, step out of the car and sit straight onto the couch in front of an open fire. A big industrial shed in the middle of the city would be ideal, and I would grow plants inside the shed to make it feel a bit connected to the outside world using effective natural sky-lighting and lots of glass. Fantastic.
As from today, we have a shed. This is not a shed that fits into my schema of what I believe a shed should be. For a start, we ordered the shed out of a catalogue. We didn’t design, converse with engineers, discuss structural integrity etc., we just circled a design, chose a colour and added and optional skylight.
I have previously bought two other sheds. One took me and a mate a whole day to dismantle and transport, the other one took a big truck to drop off at my house. The shed that arrived today is not like these other sheds.
When I got home this evening, I almost forgot that the shed had been delivered. I asked them to ‘unload’ it outside our door. It wasn’t there, but at least our neighbours received their cardboard box (obviously containing a broom-set, or totem-tennis kit, possibly badminton nets). So I took the torch out to search the complex for my shed walls, trusses, industrial components etc. Not finding anything, I took a closer look at the neighbour’s delivery. It was our ‘shed’. I feel so inadequate.
I never thought that I would unwrap a shed from a cardboard box. What manlihood I had before can now be further questioned. I am just thankful that it was dark when Libs and I smuggled it from the neighbour’s wall into our living room.
Needless to say, I won’t be pulling any car into this shed. Planting plants inside will be limited to small species of lichen and possibly the occasional fungal outbreak, and the natural lighting I am going to assume will be provided by sun that I believe will have no problem penetrating the thin tin walls which may or may not hold up a roof.
We will see. It may surprise me, again.


When the Faith hits the fan.

Posted on September 9th, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

The ongoing ponderings on faith and healing came up in a conversation I had with someone today. It was not a complete conversation as there were interuptions, but it was interesting to hear the person’s point of view on how faith in God and healing fit into their lifestyle.

I am not sure that I fully understood the point the person was making, but I got the impression that their belief involved there was no need to be sick when you had faith in God. Examples of colds, flu, coughs etc. came into the conversation and how faith in God covered that.

This suddenly made everything seem quite easy. I looked around the room and saw a lady using a walking frame. Someone else was blowing their nose. I have my own cells eating my sternum for breakfast, lunch, dinner and while I sleep. Things are easy now because I can get a clear understanding of where peoples’ faith is at depending on their circumstance or physical ailments, including my own. Easy to calculate, easy to fix. (close sarcasm)

My understanding of faith and healing hasn’t really changed during my experience in the last few months. I still have 100% faith that my creator has all the power in the world to make sickness go away and has sovereignty in the decision. Whether I am dead, alive, feeling crap or feeling fantastic, my faith in his ability stands.

It is just as well though, because I have absolutely no idea what I need to do to ‘up’ my faith in this area. Do I need to talk about it more? Do I need to reject medical treatment to let God do his thing? Do I need to spend hours in prayers of faith (I am not even sure what that means, to be honest)?

I am so uncertain about my outcome, and I am so comfortable with that. I have absolute faith that God is able to heal me, but I don’t equate that at all with my ailments, mortality, sniffles or need for a walking frame. Faith, hope and love are three things talked about in the Bible. I have faith that God can heal. I hope he heals me, that would be great. I love life and I love those that I have the privilege of sharing it with.

In response to the conversation I had with the person today, I still enjoy hearing where people are at. Maybe I will understand more of this person’s belief as I go through this experience and work out that I don’t have to be sick. Or maybe I can sniff, push my walking frame and have my sternum eaten up and know with absolute certainty that God is all powerful, regardless.


On the road again!

Posted on September 6th, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

Not to be confused with the ‘roids’ again, although I am being weened off them. I am talkin’ back on the road driving cars again. I just drove for the first time since May. Oh, what a feeling! Thought we would play it safe and just drive to the shops and back to get bread and milk and the mission was a success! I am not really needing a car at the moment but at least I know I can drive if the need arises. Fantabulous!
I am back into routine now also. I have my radiotherapy early in the morning, catch the bus to the city which takes about 20 mins, and I have been working full days so far. It is so good to be back into a routine after months of not knowing how each day is going to pan out when I wake up. There is a surreal realisation that take place, at numerous times in the day, when I am in awe of how good it is just to be.


The Initial Roast

Posted on September 4th, 2007 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

Day one of radiotherapy and all went well. The newish cancer centre at the hospital is very nice. Very flash looking machine, great staff, and a subtly-flashing light show on the roof to keep patients soothed. The whole process was incredibly quiet and relaxed. I would have hardly known the treatment was on if not for being told and the occasional light coming on.
Today took a little longer being the first hit but I was in and out before I knew it. Elizabeth knew used to work with one of the other patients that we met in the waiting room who is halfway through her radiotherapy course, so it was great to meet her and hear of how she has been going. It would be good to meet a few other people as there are a bunch of us there first thing in the morning, I am pretty sure we will have something in common.
Lib’s folks went home today also. It has been really great to have them over and they have been huge in support for us all along the way. They really appreciated just being to make connection with our lives here now and meeting the people they hear so much about. We are not going to know what to do with ourselves now as it has been almost two months of having people stay and look after us. Which reminds me, there is a position currently available for live in staff in Robinson Ave. Must be willing to cook, clean, listen to whatever music I may impose on the immediate environment and laugh accordingly to any wisecrack made during the natural course of the day. If you feel called to this position, please contact me a.s.a.p.


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