Sunday, 24 October 2010

This is a great link to Urology at Addenbrookes; have a look.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Another week passes! Car failed MOT this week but apart from that, a fantastic week. Thorp Perro arboretum and gardens is well worth a visit if you get the chance. It's about 85 minutes drive from Penrith over to Bedale in North Yorkshire, but wow, what a treat when you get there.

Best news of the week was that I have one of my daughters, Chantal, staying with me on Christmas Day this year. First time I have been with any of my kids stay on that day for over 10 years, so really looking forward to it.

Tomorrow my case goes before the MDT meeting at Addenbrookes, so I hope to get some feedback very shortly after that. I have joined a chat room on the 'Prostate Cancer Charity' site, and had some very useful feedback from others who have been through similar stuff recently. A guy called Keith wrote an encouraging note back to me....

"Daniel, I was diagnosed with similiar numbers to you 5yrs ago. I took a year to make up my mind to have surgery.
I would advise that if you are to have surgery start getting as fit as possible - start today. Especially the pelvic floor exercises.
It will speed up your recovery time.
By the way I will be celebrating with a very large bottle of champagne on the 26th Oct which is my 5 yr cancer free anniversary.
There is hope.

If you are close family of mine, ha ha, there's not many; you might find this site very useful for support. You have to register, but it's where you can contact other relatives in a similar position to yourselves; give it a try. The link is on the top of the page, just under my photo on the right.

STOP PRESS: I've just been told that my appointment has come through for Addenbrookes...9.30a.m. on Monday 1st November. Yipeee!!!! They ask me to come with a full bladder, as they need to do a 'urine speed speed flow test' on arrival; is that taking the piss or what? At last, some movement, I'm delighted!

It was great to get that appointment in the post today, but it was followed by a strange happening tonight. At 7p.m., the PALS unit from Carlisle phoned, regarding my letter to them 5 weeks ago. Yes, 5 weeks!!! They wanted to know if they needed to take any further action. I was fairly stunned. I said "no", because when I complained to them, it was not with the intention of getting anyone into trouble, it was just to get treatment. But why did they phone me on a Friday evening, 5 weeks after I had complained, and on the same day that I got the appointment to go to Addenbrookes? Coincidence?

Apparently there is an NHS rule that, from the time of seeing your Consultant, to the time of starting treatment, no longer than 18 weeks should pass, even in non urgent cases. It says on the NHS website.... 

 "This right is a legal entitlement protected by law, and applies to the NHS in England." 

I have waited over 20 weeks now, and I have had no treatment. Have the NHS broken the law?

My Blog next week will be posted after my visit to Addenbrookes, probably on Tuesday, so that I can give you a fresh update after the appointment. Let's see if we can get this out of the way before Christmas!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

A whole week has passed since my last Blog posting, seems like a lifetime!

The big shock on announcing that the blog would go out weekly, was when I looked at the statistics mid week. On average, only 2 or 3 people were looking in! That means of course that the 70 to 80 people who were looking in daily, were not there, because they had been told there would be no postings for a week. They were all regulars, how fantastic! I was delighted to find that, because I thought I had perhaps around 20 regular followers and that the other 50 or so hits were just random. I feel guilty having gone to weekly now, and hope you all come back once a week :-)

Sasha made all the difference on Thursday, and I would like to say a big thank you to her. There are 'sayers' and 'doers' and she has proved to be the latter throughout all of this. Fed up with lack of progress, she called Addenbrookes on Thursday morning, with far more determination than I had strength for. Not sure what she said, but within minutes, the Consultant's secretary phoned me with the following information.

My consultant is on holiday (wouldn't you have guessed!) and is due back on Monday (tomorrow). All of my records are waiting for him and I will be discussed at the MDT meeting on Monday 25th October. That's the big meeting that they have at all hospitals every week to discuss cancer patients currently in the pipeline. After this meeting, I should be called down within a week for an outpatients appointment, where I will be examined and possibly rescanned. All being well then, surgery should follow within a short period of time, but many things could influence what period of time that will be. So I am now on the conveyor belt at Addenbrookes, which is better than wondering where the conveyor belt is in Carlisle!

Great week at Uni, photography, ecology, biodiversity, expedition planning; love it! We had a two hour lecture on 'soil', can you believe that? I didn't know there was so much too know about that stuff! I've also been given the 29th October as the date for my minibus practical, so stay indoors Penrith!

This Wednesday we are on a day trip to Thorp Perrow arboretum and gardens, over in Yorkshire. I've put a link to it below, sounds great, don't you think?

Thank God for the French when I need reminding of a population that still has backbone. The French Government want to raise the retirement age to 62! Yes 62! All French people currently retire at 60 having worked a 35 hour week up till then. In this country, I've know people who work 70 or 80 hours a week and only get paid for 40. There is one sat opposite me now working all weekend, as she normally does, for no other reason than wanting the best for the children at her school; and she is working for 'free'. I can't fault her dedication, but I despise the system that takes advantage of it.

The French reaction to this decision by their government, is being led by French students, who are protesting in every city across their nation. Can you imagine our students protesting? They couldn't get out of bed on time! Now, I hear that the lorry drivers are blocking all main routes, the power workers are walking out and all fuel delivery drivers to the National Airports have gone home. Brilliant!

In this country, the retirement age is going up to 66 in about 6 years time, and then incrementally to 70. This means that you have to work until 70 until you get the state pension. Of course, most people will have to stop working at around 60 because at that age, in many jobs, they would simply struggle to keep up. So they will get to retire at 60, but just won't get a pension for another 10 years. It's a big 'win' situation for the government, because most people make it to 60 and a fair few even to 65, but about 170,000 people, aged between 65 and 70, die in the UK every year. That's 170,000 people who paid into the state pension all their working lives, who will never see a penny of it!

If our government put the retirement age up to 100, and cut the state pension in half, do you know what would happen? NOTHING! Spineless, gutless population as we are, having won two world wars, we still fail to even recognise the enemy living amongst us.

So why are we like this? Do they drug our reservoirs, or just give us enough X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and Eastenders to turn our brains to a jelly? Maybe we are protesting all around the country, but it's not being reported by the media? I last protested with two of my daughters, Chantal & Sasha, at the G8 Summit in Edinburgh. 5,000 riot police lined the city streets that day to police a completely non violent crowd. I lost track of where my daughters had gone, but finally got a call from one. Twenty of them, all youngsters with placards, mainly girls, were surrounded by over 150 riot police in full body armour. They were refusing to let them leave unless they left one by one. A single traffic warden could have sorted it out; especially an Edinburgh traffic warden! I was left stunned by the sight of this overwhelming force, used against a group of harmless young people who had done nothing wrong but apparently, were acting illegally.

Yet when a bank fails, making massive losses and ruining the lives of thousands of people, what happens to their leaders. Leaders, who knew weeks before what was about to happen and filled their pockets, advising their families and close friends to do the same.
Fred Goodwin, the former head of the Royal Bank of Scotland, was punished by having his pension reduced from £700,000 to 342,000 a year! NOT ONE police officer showed up, they didn't need to, because, 'he had done nothing illegal'. Do I sound pissed off with the Justice system in this country?

I better add to this, in saying that I am a total supporter of the Police, as they do their sometimes almost impossible work. I have many serving and retired friends, who are the most fantastic people you could ever meet. They have an extremely difficult job to do, and like us, just doing their best with the given funding. As inequality grows in this country, their job will become very difficult. There are dark times ahead.

Sunday, 10 October 2010


I have thought long and hard about this, and as from today, the Blog will change from daily, to weekly.

I am in a situation now where very soon, I will have to take about a month off University, though I hope to start studying at home after a short while. But so that I don't have to drop out, I really need to be about a month ahead in my work before I go into hospital. I am well ahead of the game right now, so that's good. Also, over the next few weeks, I have several days away on field trips, sometimes camping out overnight, and doing a Blog then would be difficult.

So what I am planning is this. I will write and post my Blog on Sundays, but if any news comes through mid week regarding my treatment, I will post that as a 'one off' on the day.

I know that this will disappoint some people who have become daily followers, but I am sure you will all understand the changing circumstances right now. It might mean I get a few more phone calls also, because since starting the Blog, many people who were regular callers, don't call anymore, simply because they have a new way of picking up my news. I don't mind that, because at first there was so much information to give out, relaying it individually would have done my head in.

I would like to think that I will hear from Addenbrookes next week, and maybe even be down there for the week after. So when I come out of hospital, and I am recovering at home, it would be nice to have people dropping in, or phoning for a chat. I have a funny feeling that I won't be very mobile in the first couple of weeks!

My vision for the future.......I would like to completely beat this thing, finish my degree, and go on to work in the charity sector, using personal experience and the skills that I have developed in the 'media' field.

The purpose of life is not to be happy - but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all.  ~Leo Rosten

Saturday, 9 October 2010

This is the letter that my Consultant has sent to Addenbrookes. I am sorry that I have had to leave out some detail but there are plenty of nutters out on the Internet and my Blog is deliberately very open.
By the way, I am 58! As you can see, a PSA of 4.2. You wouldn't normally even get referred with a figure that low. Also, when first examined by the Consultant, it was thought to be benign! All this when the disease is actually, "fairly widespread". Phew! I could be sitting here now looking forward to my next PSA test in a years time, thinking all was well with the world.

Not a lot to say today because so far, I have only identified and made pages for 10 out of the 30 British Trees on my list. I know that the wood from Holly is so dense it will not float in water. On the other hand, Alder is very water resistant and most of Venice stands on Alder piles. It was also used for water troughs and even pipes. Woodworm prefer Alder more than any other wood, so leaving a few bits in the attic is a good idea if you want them to leave your beams alone. Even a small bit in your wardrobe could save it from attack! The sap from the Birch can be used to make wine and the Birch can also be used to drive away evil spirits, hence being 'birched' to drive out the devil! The Elm's branches can just suddenly fall off without warning, this being one reason that the tree is often associated with death. The other being that it is the best choice of wood for a coffin! Build your house from Cedar, apparently it is almost insect proof. If you want a nice smelling wood on the fire, go for Cherry. If you want to make a magic wand, it has to be made from Hazel, though you'll be lucky to find any Hazel nuts these days because the Grey Squirrel will harvest them before they fall. Illegal distilleries used Juniper wood to fuel their boilers as it burns with very little smoke, and if you want a baby boy (and you're a woman :-), just hang around this tree for a while every day! In Scotland, stir your milk with a stick from the Rowan Tree if you want to stop it curdling, or in Ireland, the same stick will ward off your old Granny if she tries to come back from the dead!

But the Daddy of them all in Britain, has to be the Yew. Yew timber is heavy but very elastic and was traditionally used for longbows and spears. The world’s oldest wooden artifact was a yew spear found in Essex, and estimated to be 200,000 years old. The wood is so hard that a yew fence post is said to outlive one made of iron. Other uses include domestic utensils and bowls, furniture, dagger handles, cogs and wheels. 
There has been a long association of yew trees in churchyards and there are at least 500 churchyards in England which contain yew trees which are older than the building itself. Some of the Congregation are even older! It is not known why there is this link but there are many theories- from yews being planted over the graves of plague victims to protect and purify the dead; to the more mundane in that yews could be planted in churchyards as it was one of the only places that cattle did not have access and therefore would not be poisoned by eating the leaves. Yew trees are taken as symbols of immortality in many traditions, but are also seen as omens of doom. For many centuries it was the custom for yew branches to be carried on Palm Sunday and at funerals. In Ireland, it was said that the yew was ‘the coffin of the vine’ as wine barrels were made of yew staves.

Beverley says I am becoming a 'Tree Guru'. I think that translates to a 'Boring Twat' in her language!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Thanks for those kind words yesterday Silv, I hope things go well for you too, stick in there girl. x

My blood group is B Positive, a small reminder at times like this. I only know that because in the Army, your religion is stamped on your dog tags, along with your name, number and blood group. This is useful so that you can easily be identified if wounded, and then either be given a blood transfusion with the correct match, or a burial using the correct format according to your beliefs. I suppose it will be replaced with a bar code eventually. I like it in the war films, when a soldier finds his dead colleague, how he just rips off the tags and puts them in his pocket. Let me tell you, the cord on those tags is like cheese wire, and if pulled with such a sharp force would more than likely decapitate you.

I don't know about you, but over the last few months I have had an astounding increase in the number of e mails I am getting from African Dictators, Thai Princesses and Russian drug Barons! The format is always the same, in that they have stumbled across £1500,000,000, in a bank account owned by a guy who died in a plane crash, and nobody knows about this money but them. They need to transfer it to my bank account to get it out of the country, and then they will give me 40% of it as a reward. I've asked the Manager of my bank in Penrith, which would be the most suitable account to have this £600,000,000 transferred into, after all, I don't want to draw attention to myself. He said they could arrange for me to have my own ATM cash machine built into my kitchen wall, beside the fridge, or I could just buy the bank and live there. I am hoping that I don't have to draw the other £900,000,000 out in cash, because my current limit is £300 a day, and that could take some time.

Every time I buy something, where I give my name and address, I always tick the little box which allows me anonymity. However, the more I buy, the more the junk mail increases, but I can never identify the source. I had an idea a few weeks ago, and it's just started to blossom. Instead of 'Mr' as my title, I choose a different title; you should try it. To date I have been Lord Sencier, Viscount Sencier and Bishop Sencier. All very fetching titles I think, but a bit confusing to the Postman as he delivers to the 2nd from end Terrace House in the little market town of Penrith. Do you think this is illegal? Now I am just waiting for my first unsolicited mail to arrive, before I run out of titles!

I've now realised that I will never know all the names in our group of 24 at Uni. After just a few weeks, one has left and the others have divided into what I call, 'natural groups'. Strange how humans do that, but other animals do that also. When you see the individual groups take from, it's difficult to realise why that particular permutation occurred; was it age, looks, smell, fashion? I don't know. So there's, Paul, J, Carly, Sarah, Paz, Patrick, Ella and that's it I think. I still talk to the others, but it would have been easier if our photos had all gone up on day one, or even if we all had different leaves. Hope I have more luck memorising the 30 trees!

Statistically on the Blog, we are averaging around 80 a day just now, of which I believe about half to be regular hits, and the others random searches. I can't tell who the hits are but I can tell exactly where they are, and the method they use to access the Blog; so that's a big clue. 75% are in the UK and the other 25% dotted around all over the world. It's nice to go on the Blog in the evening and see up to 30 people reading it at the same time. It is not only monitored by individuals but also by some larger organisations, such as the Prostate Cancer Charity, understandably. The CSA are regular viewers, hoping they can find the £600,000,000 left to me by the Russian Drug Baron, and Whitbread, nervous about my participation in, 'Why you should be scared to eat out' revelations, coming up on TV soon.

Andre and the Sunfower
Andre with transport

Andre with Nicky & Minush
Andre preparing for a Happy Christmas

 Just thought I would end today's Blog with some photos of my younger brother Andre (from many years ago!). He hasn't been dealt the best hand in life, but I've always felt close to him. He's a really nice guy and even though we don't see each other much, we do keep in touch a few times a week. Best wishes for the future Andre, and stay strong.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Yesterday afternoon, I had a telephone call from Mr Eronini, a Consultant Urologist at the Cumbrian Royal Infirmary. This act alone was amazing as nobody has contacted me from that hospital since I was diagnosed on 18th June; apart from my appointment with the Oncologist in September. He had just returned from holiday and my file was on his desk, along with an e mail that I had sent him the day before, asking him to refer me to a specific Consultant at Addenbrookes.

He had called to tell me that he had spoken to Addenbrookes and that he was sending all my notes and scans down with my referral that day. He had also written to the local trust, because the operation was going to cost them over £20,000! Addenbrookes said that they could not see that this would be a problem as referrals of this nature had been made from other trusts. However, this is Cumbria and my journey to date has not been smooth. I have to ask myself if there are problems of finance ahead.

If all goes to plan, then I will be included on the next weekly MDT meeting down in Cambridge, and they will give me an appointment to go and see them. This will hopefully be followed shortly after, by an appointment to go back down for surgery. I still wonder, and worry as to what is going on inside my body during this time of waiting.

I passed my theory test today, after doing the training which will enable me to drive the University's mini bus fleet. Not all at once! Next week I have the practical test, so I will let you all know which day to stay off the roads around Penrith. They don't have Sat Navs, so I see a few trips turning into a 'magical mystery tour'! To my astonishment, because I had passed my driving test before 1997, I am already licensed to drive the heaviest buses, and tow a trailer! Had I passed before 1977, maybe I could have piloted helicopters? Silly rule with no logic, don't you think?

Now I have 3 days to catch up on study and other stuff. I am not back at Uni until Monday, when we will all be going out into the wilds on a 'Navigation Day'. 34 years since I left the Army, so I do need a refresher! At that time, a mobile phone was a radio, the size of a large suitcase, which was carried on the back. The only advantage being that it gave a certain amount of protection from being shot in the rear. Navigation during the day was achieved with a map and compass, and to find exactly where you were, you had to cross reference lines on the map from distant objects, like church towers or other large objects. At night, sometimes the stars were your only hope and if it was cloudy, well you just asked the locals in the nearest pub! Now, I look at the different apps on my Iphone and laugh; the only thing it can't tell me is the future, and I believe they are working on that!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Today, my Blog is a letter to Steve, at BBC Radio Cumbria, who asked me to report back to him after I attended a meeting last night, recommended on air yesterday.

Dear Steve,

Last night I went to my first, 'North Cumbria Prostate Cancer Support Group' meeting. As the 'new boy', I was made to feel very welcome by Jimmy Allen and the others. It was strange to see myself in a room where I was probably 10 years younger than most, this explaining why I was said to be 'very young' in this type of cancer group. They had a guest speaker on, who you had met earlier, David C Baxter-Smith, who was accompanied by his very pleasant wife. A recently retired Prostate expert from Worcester, David last practised in Birmingham and as you know, he now works for a Prostate Cancer charity, traveling the country, encouraging the forming of support groups and promoting and carrying out PSA testing for men over 50. Today he is in Maryport where he hopes to do several hundred of these tests, and then write to each individual and give advice based on the result. Why don't men just go to their doctor? Partly because they think it could never be growing inside of them, and partly because many doctors will simply turn them away if they have no symptoms. Doctors mainly have a poor knowledge of this disease, even though it is one of the biggest killers of men in the world. In the UK, 150 men everyday, are told the news that they have Prostate Cancer. Every fortnight, the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of men die from prostate cancer.

David's presentation was direct and from the heart, speaking without notes, he was extremely knowledgable and put the detail over in a very interesting and often amusing way. I particularly liked when he held his finger up and said, "this finger has been inside the bum hole of 40,000 men, including five members of the House of Lords". He explained that in his early surgical days, nobody specialised, and as others started to concentrate on, the heart, the lungs, the liver or the brain, he was just left with the 'water works', which included the prostate. He was also spurred on to specialise in this area because his Father, like mine, had died of Prostate Cancer, and because of this, he too has regular PSA testing.

As there were people present last night, who had decided to come along after hearing David on the radio earlier, he started by explaining exactly where the Prostate gland is located and what it's function is. He then went on to talk about the  symptoms of Prostate Cancer and the blood testing process to ascertain PSA levels. He explained the internal examination method and what the doctor was feeling for, and also talked about the different scoring systems related to the staging of the cancer. There is very little research practiced in the UK on this cancer, and considering so many men will fall to it, very little is known about it or how it is caused. It seems that it is common in Western Society, but not as common in China or the Far East. The further away from the equator you are the better, and yet Jamaica has the World's highest rate of the disease. You are twice as likely to get it if your Father or Brother have had it. If you are over 70, and sat at a table with 11 other men, 5 of you would have it, but you will probably all die of something else. However, if you are 50 to 60 years old, you are far more in danger from an aggressive spread and need to get it treated fast. Now when I say 'fast' spread, 'fast' in prostate cancer is nowhere as quick as 'fast' in breast cancer. So he assured me that if my cancer had been seen on the MRI as contained within the prostate capsule, even though it was aggressive, I did have time on my side, and I needn't panic on my progress through the system so far.

Jill Thursby, the Specialist Urology Nurse from the hospital was also there and I had a long chat with her afterwards. She had recently been to a seminar in Leeds where they had discussed the advantages of the Da Vinci machine. The conclusion being that the most important factor was the person doing your surgery and their success rate, rather than this new machine. We also talked at length about my case and I am contacting her tomorrow when she has promised to track down my file on Mr Eronini's desk! Jill also questioned David as to whether PSA testing and all the anxiety around it, was relevant in diagnosing this disease. The current increased publicity meant that a surge of people were having their blood tested for PSA, without the resources being made available to cope at hospitals. Many have raised levels and after examination are sent for biopsy with either only low grade cancer or nothing discovered. But David pointed to the huge amount of cancer that is discovered early, saying that without the PSA test, it would have gone undetected. I suppose if 10 men have to have a very uncomfortable biopsy, to find the one who has the disease, on balance, it's worth it.

Did you know that in the USA, 60% of men over the age of 50 could tell you their PSA score. In the UK, this is less than 5% and most men have never heard of it! Every man in Cumbria should know his PSA level and automatically be informed of his right to have this simple test on his 50th birthday. After all, when I got to 50, enough organisations had my details, being able to offer me stair lifts, viagra, funeral plans and disabled bathrooms!

I had a chat to David and his wife over a cup of tea after the meeting. He gave me some advice as to how I could swim through the bureaucratic mire that I find myself in, and also handed me his card with telephone number and e mail address on it. I promised to call him only if it was urgent, but his wife insisted that I could call him anytime, even if I was worried and just wanted to chat. You can't get kinder than that Steve, can you?

I look forward to linking up again with BBC Radio Cumbria in the near future, so that we can reach out to every man across the County with this message.......'Know your PSA'.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Do you plan your life, or do you just let it happen to you? I've thought about this many times, and as much as I would like to think that I planned certain things, I know it has all just, 'happened to me'. I was playing on a pinball machine once, when a great analogy occurred to me. As I pulled the spring loaded lever back, then released it, the silver ball shot up the shoot and entered the game. I was being born! Death lay at the very bottom, between those flippers, and one thing was certain, we would all go that way eventually. Some of us would stay in the game much longer than others, and our experiences would be very different. We would fall into 'bonus' holes and gain extra points with flashing lights and bells ringing and as we bounce off the bumpers and fly around the table. Apart from an occasional flick from a flipper, we are at the mercy of 'luck'. There is a certain amount of skill involved, because some people are consistently better than others at pinball, but the end result is always the same. However, the analogy only holds up for a one ball game, because that's all we get in real life.

This afternoon we are going out to 'identify trees'. I will have no problem with, Oak, Birch, Beech, Sycamore, Elm, Holy but then the list fades. As for identifying the tree without leaves, that could be a problem. How can we live for so long and not be able to identify something as beautiful as a tree, yet we know McDonald's from a mile down the road? I'm looking forward to it; a breath of fresh air and it's throwing it down outside.

Bonti is going back today, that's sad, it was great having her here for a few days, but I think she's coming for Christmas, so maybe we'll find Small Tarn then.

Morton Manor is the venue for the meeting tonight, if anyone wants to go to the support group meeting at 7 p.m. There's some good speakers and I am looking forward to meeting lots of other people in a similar situation to myself. I am taking notes because I may be discussing this on the radio shortly after. People who give up their time for this sort of thing are giving so much to the community.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Last night we went to a great party at Dave and Karen's lovely house, can't remember where it was. Ken and Jenny were there and we met lots of others who we had never seen before. Dave cooked a first class meal as I chatted to him in the kitchen, hardly noticing the red wine going down. Bonti and I were well oiled and so grateful to Beverley for driving us home.

So surprising then, with our sore heads, that Bonti and I set off down to Haweswater bright and early this morning, to do the little walk up to Small Tarn. I didn't need a map, after all I had been there before. Off we went, up the clear path to the left, not realising until much later that we should have gone right. We slowly wound our way up the steep tracks, all the time wondering where Small Tarn had got to. We even gave another couple advice on which way to go, apparently sending them straight over a cliff. We entered the cloud base and the wind was howling, the whole hillside became much darker as visibility went down to about 15 feet. We were starting to get a little scared because we didn't have a clue where we were. Suddenly, a dark dog from Satan appeared in front of us and we thought, this is it, we are dead! We could only see his dark silhouette in the mist and his heavy pant as he bounded towards us out of the mist. I was trying to decide whether to throw my daughter at him, maybe giving one of us the chance of escape. But it turned out to be a black labrador called Monty, who started to lick us to death! He's owner appeared, an old man with a stick who was very amused that we were lost. We asked him where Small Tarn was, and just as the words came out, the clouds opened, as if God had drawn a curtain back, revealing Small Tarn, about 1,000 feet below us. "That's it down there", he said. We looked and saw it for about 10 seconds before God drew the curtain and it was gone! That's the only time we saw it, after the 2 mile walk turned into 7, taking us up 1,600 feet. There was a direct path down, but we simply couldn't find it in the thickening mist, and even if we had, it was going to be very steep. We said goodbye to the old guy and Monty (son of Satan!), and headed back the way we had come, only 3.5 miles to base camp! On the way back I found the couple who I had directed over the cliff and luckily they had stopped for thought at the edge. I apologised and said how glad I was that they were safe, explaining the dangers of taking advice from complete strangers, who might even be dyspraxic. Bonti struggled down, her ankle giving her a lot of discomfort from a metal plate that she had inserted after an accident a few years ago. She braved it though, I was proud of her and she didn't complain more than a dozen times.

After a morning like that, I was raring to go, having expedition planning at 2 p.m. But as soon as I hit an area where my phone was with signal, the messages started to come through. The Hospital, Radio Cumbria and several others all related to a renowned specialist in Prostate Cancer, David Baxter-Smith, who is visiting Cumbria right now. If you want to listen, he is on at 11.40 a.m. tomorrow morning on BBC Radio Cumbria. As a result of conversations that followed, I am meeting him tomorrow night at a support meeting in Carlisle. I had to miss Uni this afternoon, but this was too important to pass by. This could be of help to me, but I am determined to get a better support network going in Cumbria, and to do this, sacrifices have to be made.

Hope Paul has taken some notes for me today.

Sunday, 3 October 2010


Dear all
Just a quick note to say Daniel hasn't forgotten you all but is a tad "overcome" from the stupendous liquid refreshments on offer at Karen and David's non-BBQ party. What a lovely couple and what a branewave to ditch the wet day BBQ and serve their guests bangers, mash, peas and gravy...inspirational.

Our darling Daniel will no doubt arise like Lazarus tomorrow with his extraordinary tails of daring do.......bombing car exhausts in scrap yards and throwing cold chips in ladies hairdos.... sometime tomorrow. We await with baited breath.

love and hugs
His Beverley

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Beverley has passed her bug to me so I'm not feeling too good today; another short Blog, sorry!

After talking at length to Beverley, Paul and Sue last night, I've decided to ask my doctor to refer me privately to Addenbrookes. I just can't risk that Mr Eronini will come back off his holiday, take a week to look at my notes, then send me an appointment for two weeks after that, and then decides to refer me to Mr McNutter in Glasgow, who is taking 3 months paternity leave!

Golf and nothing but golf on the radio all weekend, I can understand anyone playing golf, I've tried it myself and it's fun, but can you believe 5000 people actually standing on a course watching some guys hitting a very small ball with stick, who they can barely see in the distance.

Today's photographic treat is my brother Paul standing in front of the spin dryer, and beside the gas boiler which was used to boil our sister Jacqueline's nappies; I'll never forget that smell..................

My brother Paul in his Scout's uniform

Friday, 1 October 2010

I wasn't going to write a Blog today, felt a bit deflated. I phoned Carlisle Royal Infirmary to check if the Consultant, Mr Eronini had received my referral back from Newcastle. I spoke to his secretary who confirmed that it had arrived and was on his desk. At that point things looked promising, until with her next breath she said,"unfortunately he's not back from holiday until next week". After I had finished speaking to her, I phoned the Macmillan Nurse, who was off until Tuesday, the Urology Nurses who are on call 24 hours, and got their voice mail, and my doctor who said there was really nothing he could do. When I raised the possibility of going Private, he suggested that may be a bad idea, because I was well up the NHS list now and going private at this stage may even mean a longer delay on my treatment.

Beverley is also not well today, she didn't go to work and she has to be dying to take time off. She's very disappointed about having to cancel her dive on Wast Water; 6 weeks before the next chance.

So I just need to go sit down and chill a bit now, knowing that there are people in the NHS system in a far more serious condition than I am, and be grateful that I live in a country where treatment is available!
Go on, print it off and have a drink on me!