Thursday, 27 February 2014

A trip to Northumberland

This morning I had my second dacarbazine chemotherapy treatment. As mentioned in my earlier post, we have increased the dose by 25% compared to the first cycle. The new dose is typical for use in patients with sarcoma, I initially had a lower dose so that we could understand the level of side effects that I would experience. In fact the first cycle of dacarbazine has been the most trouble free chemotherapy cycle I've ever had, I'm expecting that this second cycle will be a little more problematic as a result of the higher dose but I'll just have to see how it goes over the next few weeks.
I keep a count of my chemotherapy cycles, this current one is the 30th that I've had since starting treatment for Leiomyosarcoma back in April 2011. Some people with advanced LMS are rather sceptical about the benefits of chemotherapy, especially in light of the very severe side effects that people may suffer. My own experience has been a positive one: not only have the side effects been generally manageable, the treatment itself has, in my view, significantly extended my life. Of course this is just my impression and, from a scientific perspective, is merely an anecdote but it does mean that I'm personally very comfortable with the treatment path that my oncologist has been recommending to me and that I have chosen to follow since my diagnosis. There is a relatively low chance that the dacarbazine will actually do me any good, but even if my next scan shows that it hasn't worked that won't change my view on the value of chemotherapy for those with advanced LMS.


Katie and I recently made a three night trip to Northumberland. Given the windy and rainy weather that has been with us for weeks we really did wonder if this was a good idea, however we decided to take a chance and go anyway. As luck would have it our two days of bird watching on the Northumberland coast coincided with a real improvement in the weather and we enjoyed a lot of sunshine during our trip.
We spent some time sat in a hide over looking the Island of Lindisfarne. The sea was a shade of turquoise more usually associated with the Mediterranean than the north coast of Northumberland in February, the vegetation was golden and the sky blue.  It was very relaxing just being there enjoying the view.
We hired a local wildlife guide to take us out on the first day of our visit. We've used him once before back in 2009 and we had another very good day this time around. Whilst Katie and I are reasonably good at identifying birds we would miss quite a lot without the help of a guide. The guide has written a blog entry on our trip for anyone interested in the details.
I didn't take any pictures so I've picked this from one of our previous visits to the area. This is a shag, a relative of the more common cormorant. I think this bird is really very stylish with striking green eyes, yellow on the bill and an iridescent green sheen in the plumage.
During our trip we stayed at the Red Lion at Alnmouth, a very nice traditional pub that we've also stayed at on our two previous trips to the area. I recommend it if you're looking to visit. 

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