Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Report

We had our three monthly consultation today, a month behind schedule, but with the advantage of an extra PSA test sneaked in.

The Cyproterone commenced in December halved my PSA in three months and the latter has stayed at that level for some further weeks. On the face of it, this fifth intervention since I got the diagnosis has given us several more months of quality lifespan. The cancer itself is still not making itself felt, and some of the side effects I've been experiencing have been successfully reduced.

All in all, a very satisfactory prospect, with the huge increases of last year stopped and even reduced for a time.  Cyproterone could be increased in strength if my PSA starts to climb steeply again.

However, the combined medications are likely to have some effect on my liver sooner or later and we will continue to monitor this regularly. And ongoing Zoladex could undermine my general health and fitness. In a period in which I have just lost a couple of kgs (due to a really bad lurgy?) that's something that I can see I have to continue to work on.

But the overall picture seems to be of rather better prospects than we were facing three years ago.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"Turkey" O'Connor?

Image result for turkey

Three months after I suggested that Simon O'Connor should step aside and ask someone else to chair the Health Committee of Parliament, Gareth Morgan has now come out with a strongly worded criticism of O'Connor's bias in the Chair.

I hope that there will be some more consideration of this issue in the public arena. It needs to be seen that, as one of my readers responded to my January post, the situation is a bit like asking a turkey to produce a report on the merits of Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"Struggling to stay alive..." ? Who? Me?

Image result for staying alive

One of my Facebook friends has just complimented me on my "struggle to stay alive".  This expression, or some variation of it, keeps turning up in the context of terminal cancer. "After a long battle with cancer" seems to be the way to start public notifications of this kind.

I have many times stated how inappropriate this expression seems to me. I guess it must be true for some people whose entire life's purpose may have to revolve around dealing with the pain and unpleasantness of cancer and, indeed, of the various therapies proposed by the white-coated ones who spend their lives carrying out an absolutely amazing battle of their own.

But for me, this is not a helpful way of thinking about my living and dying. In one of my recent videos I stated quite explicitly that I don't want anyone using that kind of language to describe my relationship with this wretched disease. I think it's in this one but possibly it's here. (Maybe I should have a bucket list of short videos worth making....)

Anyway, here's what I said to my Facebook Friend:

Now, now, Michael, you must have read my views on expressions like "struggling" with reference to life and death. I am not having a "struggle to live". I have a serious cancer but I am accepting the generous help of the Health system (within limits!) and am just getting on with living. I don't even have a "bucket list" (well, I would like to get our Village's sound system working properly before popping off - nobody else around here has much idea about it...). And, selfishly, I would like to have some opportunities to speak more about the choice for a decent death. That's plenty to live for right now! But when death comes I'll be ready and the notification won't say "after a long struggle with cancer" if I can help it!! Cheers!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Methodist Bird?

The stunning Mollymawk on the right was one of the highlights of our brief trip out onto Fovaux Strait while we were at Stewart Island.

The one with the yellow striped beak was named by or for James Buller, who was the son of one of the first Wesleyan Missionaries into our country in the mid 19th century.

The white-capped on the left is also a majestic bird but wouldn't any Methodist be delighted with the Buller's Mollymawk?


Yep, we've been away in the bottom of the South Island doing some birdwatching with my sister Marion from Canberra. We selected a few likely places where we might see birds that are not so common. We were well rewarded.

A personal highlight was some close attention from a wild Kaka that appeared on the deck of our rented holiday home. We also had the very rare experience of seeing two of these magnificent birds mating. They don't do this very successfully very often, apparently, relying on the occasional good crop of "mast" exuded from forest trees. And when the beech mast is doing well, plagues of introduced wasps often prevent the birds from getting the benefit of it.

But everywhere we went for ten busy days, the investment of our Department of Conservation in sanctuaries, predator-proof fences, poisoning and monitoring programs, information centres - not to mention clear roadside notices - greatly enriched our self-guided experience. We should be grateful for our country's growing awareness of the special nature of so much of our environment. It says something of our respect for creation...

However, investment in our environment is also good for tourism, of course - we found overseas travellers everywhere we went. But there are other kinds of investment that are needed for our vulnerable babies and children and their under-privileged parents. How can we maintain a balance in allocating our limited tax resources for the best good of all?