Friday, 30 July 2010

A Bad Week in January

It started as a bad week in January and it kept me from blogging for quite a while. 

On the Sunday, our little old cat Tuppence started to have serious problems with her heart and although I didn’t realise it at the time her joints were giving her trouble too.  As if that wasn’t bad enough two days later my husband was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus (gullet).  It has been a difficult few months and thankfully Eric has recovered but sadly little Tuppence didn’t.  It was heartbreaking letting her go, but it was the best thing for her. I started to wonder whether we were ever going to get back to a normal life.

I won’t go into the details of my husband’s treatment, all I’ll say is that it’s been fantastic and thankfully, successful. Well as successful as things can ever be when you've had cancer. There are no guarantees.

Our National H
ealth Service comes in for criticism but I have to say it's amazing. The speed at which my husband was treated and the quality of treatment and care was phenomenal. I dread to think how much it must have cost. The care has continued with our local community nurses who came out every day after he was discharged.  If we were relying on private medical insurance, I doubt if we would be able to get it for him. If we could, we wouldn’t be able to afford it. It’s already a nightmare getting his travel insurance.

I try not to be too Political (with a capital P) when I blog. However I hope the Conservative government invests as much in the NHS as the previous Labour government has done. The Conservative track record on the NHS isn't good. Margaret Thatcher and co. decimated it by massive underfunding. The NHS is one of Britain's greatest achievements and it’s our country's most most priceless asset! So politics over, now to the information bit of the posting. 

Check this out and be aware of the dangers of oesophageal cancer as very few people know much about it.

We hadn't heard anything about cancer of the oesophagus before January and although it's not common, it's the seventh most common of the cancers in the UK with 7,000 new cases every year. We were surprised to find that it's on the increase worldwide. Apparently the North East of England and Scotland have the highest incidence of this type of cancer in Europe.

There are two different types of cancer of the oesophagus, adenocarcinoma and squamous. I won't go into detail here, you can find out more on the Patient UK website.

What causes Oesophageal Cancer?

Apparently there are various causes of cancer of the oesophagus:

  • Ageing! It's more common in people over 65 and in men. 
  • Diet is a possible factor. A high fat diet and obesity are thought to increase the risk and a vegetable and fruit rich diet is thought to reduce it. 
  • Smoking. 
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol especially spirits. 
  • Acid reflux. 
  • Food and drink temperatures. Some research has shown that high temperatures could be a factor. 
  • China and the Far East has a higher incidence than Europe. This could be due to environmental factors and/or diet. 
If you want to find out more about the causes check out Cancer Research UK

So what are the symptoms?

Well unfortunately there are no early symptoms for this type of cancer.  Sadly most cases are advanced before they are diagnosed. The most common symptom is difficulty swallowing and feeling that your food is getting stuck in your throat. Less common symptoms are persistent hiccups, coughing, weight loss, indigestion and vomiting.

Eric was one of the few people diagnosed through a total fluke. His symptoms hadn't been any of those listed but our local doctor sent him for an endoscopy to try to find out what exactly was wrong. This detected a minute tumour which was then found to be cancerous but thankfully it was diagnosed very early. He had his operation (very drastic) but didn't need any further treatment. It's been a slow recovery for him and he still has quite a long way to go, but he has a very positive attitude which certainly helps. 

It goes to show that you should always get checked when your symptoms are persistent.

As for me, I'm just starting to relax and get my life back on track. Well I was this week and now we have the school holidays and grandchildren. No rest for the wicked!

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  1. Dear Winifred, I can't imagine the fear that you and your husband must have lived with during the early stages of the diagnosis. It is a horrible form of cancer I am sure you were so relieved that he was diagnosed early and that he is cancer free at this time. Truly God is watching over Eric and you. It is a miracle that he is doing so well. I know how grateful Eric and you are to have received such good care for him, wonderful news.
    I lost my Grandmother to Esophageal cancer in 1978. I am afraid she was not diagnosed early and was gone two months after the diagnosis. We were grateful that she did not suffer long. I know Eric will continue to recover. He has a good caring wife and family, and that means so much when you are trying to recover from such a serious illness. Beat wishes. Marjorie

  2. So happy to hear all is going well with your husband. Sorry about your cat. We become so attached to our pets, don't we? Hope you have a lovely week-end. I'm sure the grandchildren will keep you on your toes. LOL

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  4. Thank you for sharing some of the details of your husband's cancer. As a person who suffers from mild acid reflux (I take medication) I am vaery intersted in this. My doc does a endoscopy every five years because of this.

    Ithink Eric was very blessed that this was found so early. I'm sure it has been a terrible trial for both ofyou, but hopefully the worst is behind you.

    I will continue to hold you both in my prayers.

    ~hippo hugs~

  5. It is so good to read of the progress that Eric is making and my prayers continue for complete and lasting recovery.

    Alan too found the care he got in the ward he was in was very good. He had medical insurance but insisted in staying with the NHS as he was admitted through A & E. Not what I would have chosen.


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