Cancer: My Experience, My Journey – Chemotherapy, Round Two

Detail Primavera

Cancer survivor sitting on chairWe are finally beginning to understand just how the powerful patterns of connectivity we can choose to enjoy today, might prove be used as a tool for creating evidence-based policies and practice and to help advance the health and well-being of society as a whole.

For that to happen in the world of cancer treatment, it requires across the board co-operation between individual and group agencies and that’s not always an easy ask and often does not go according to plan.

Young woman with skin cancer

February to April has indeed been a difficult time, although I was kept busy writing while marking time to move forward, as we were waiting to see if I had gone clear of the cancer.

The odds weren’t great as I knew it had escaped my bowel and tested positive in eleven out of sixteen lymph nodes. When I finally had my CT scan in April, the news was not what we had hope to achieve, as I still had a spot on the liver and another near the lungs.

Bowel Cancer 5

Working out how, where, why and when on my Cancer journey and experience, is what my family and friends have all been waiting to discover during this period.

My Oncologist set me on an all new path towards treatment with Immunotherapy, which in very simple terms, assists the body’s immune system to fight cancer with an 80% chance of success.  All sounded so simple, but then as so many other things do in life, it all became complex.

Bowel Cancer 4Immunotherapy is extremely costly and my only way forward is to qualify for a clinical trial and there are various routes you can go on to achieve that aim.

My Oncologist decided to test the actual tumour, which had been removed to look at its ‘markers’ about genetic testing to see if my cancer is inherited. It indicated yes in two out of four tests.

But that is not nearly enough. There is a particular blood test apparently, which will provide information on whether, or not, I had Lynch Syndrome, which is largely Australia’s Untold Health Story… a hereditary cancer gene in your family tree.

Read all about it here. It is not only in your interest to do so, but also to document your own and your families journey in health into the future.

Trying to gain an appointment to have the blood test involved has been time consuming and didn’t work out at all in the window of opportunity we had before us. Apparently if and when you have the test, it may take some three months or more for the results to come through.

3d illustration of a cancer cell and lymphocytesAlso, other tests now ordered on the tumour itself also take some three months plus for results. We cannot wait that long without me having some sort of further treatment, because my cancer type appears very aggressive.

In the meantime, my only option now is to have a second round of chemotherapy: Irinotecan.

Carolyn with Aurora, the care dog at Epworth, Richmond, Melbourne

Carolyn with Aurora, the care dog at Epworth, Richmond, Melbourne

Mother's Day, Matilda Restaurant, South Yarra, 2019 — with Ross McDowall, Jen Marshall, Colton, Paul McDowall, Craig McDowall, Grace Pan and Belinda McDowall.

Mother’s Day, Matilda Restaurant, South Yarra, 2019 — with Ross McDowall, Jen Marshall, Colton, Paul McDowall, Craig McDowall, Grace Pan and Belinda McDowall.

Starting today Thursday 20th June and for the next eight weeks I am back in the Day Unit at Epworth Richmond, where I will begin further treatment of 4 x 2 week cycles, which again can have serious side effects and complications.

And yes, this time I have been informed, I will definitely lose all my hair, not just patches. So, I have begun brushing up on my turban tying skills over the last weekend. While it is good to keep a positive attitude in place, there is no glossing over the fact any medication of the cancer chemotherapy type, can and may have serious consequences if you do not follow advice.

It is particularly important as I am diabetic, which does mean some adjustment to my medication which is not easily compatible with chemotherapy.

The promise is if I do come out well on the other side, the next stage if still required will be an immunotherapy trial and I have to keep on believing there is light at the end of yet another tunnel until it goes dark.  That road trip also starts this same week, an interview on the day after my chemotherapy.

In the meantime, my three sons and their partners are working through their very busy work schedules as they continue to offer me their unconditional love and support. How blessed am I.

And so, it is back to writing and TV binge watching for me, because I have to avoid possible infection at the worse time of year for colds and flu.


Primavera or Spring, representation on a fresco in a villa at Stabiae part of the collective Torre Annunziata World Heritage site, designated by UNESCO in 1997.

Keep your fingers crossed I will emerge from my home fires again as the age-old promise of Spring (Primavera) arises. My favourite version of the great goddess is once again part of my desktop array; she’s an image who has created a lasting impression on western art.

Part of a fresco in a villa at Stabiae nearby to Pompeii and Herculaneum, she is associated with spring flowers and the ideal of female beauty as she walks gracefully along. The lower part of her chiton is gently wafting on the lightest of breezes, expressing that sense of joyful freedom and harmony with nature, which we associate with civilization at its best.

Her turned head indicates what is concealed may be more beautiful still and perhaps also suggests, that which is not revealed cannot ever disappoint.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2019

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