Hadrian’s Wall Day 6 – Mission Complete!

Hadrian’s Wall Day 6 – Mission Complete!

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
  [caption id="attachment_1144" align="alignnone" width="2560"] Sunset over the Solway Firth (Scotland in the distance)[/caption] The final leg of the walk took us from beautiful Carlisle to the remote coast of North Cumbria at Bowness-on-Solway.  We are staying there tonight before beginning our journey home tomorrow (via Newcastle). Amazingly our digs have a wicked view of the Scottish coastline and the setting sun - see picture above which was taken from our room.  It was pretty surreal to have finished 6 days of torturous walking but also to be able to look at such a wonderful view of the country in which I was born. Some people say final leg of the walk is pretty boring but Chris and I disagree. Yes it's flat but the first half is a wonderful…
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Hadrian’s Wall Day 5 – Pass the morphine!

Daily Blog
[caption id="attachment_1087" align="alignnone" width="640"] Me Resting![/caption] [caption id="attachment_1088" align="alignnone" width="480"] The M6![/caption]   When I was in hospital for major surgery, I remember being briefed by my excellent nursing staff about all the tubes and pipes intruding and protruding into/from my body. One of the most important ones in the early days was known as PCA - Patient Controlled Analgesia.  Basically I could click a button whenever I felt the post surgical pain was too much.  As this administered morphine, safeguards were built in - for example, the machine limited me to 2 clicks within 5 minutes and then it wouldn't accept a request for another 5 minutes.  That handheld push button device was never far away from my hands! I could have done with it today.  Yesterday I felt…
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Hadrian’s Wall Day 4 – Welcome to Cumbria!

Daily Blog
      [caption id="attachment_1030" align="alignnone" width="640"] Lanercost Priory[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_1034" align="alignnone" width="480"] Milecastle 48 - Poltross Burn[/caption]   That was a long day and a hard walk!  Started at Steel Rigg and ended at Lanercost and we were accompanied by our friend and ex Army colleague, Jim Waterson.  Jim and I served together in Germany 1977-79 and then again in Blandford Dorset 1983-84.  Usual banter all day brought back more memories and news about some old mutual friends.  Thanks to Jim for a great day. Thanks also to Jennifer for picking us up to take us to the start point on the wall and vice versa at the end. The route was a mixture of hilly crags and rolling fields as we entered Cumbria.  There were some marvellous…
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Hadrian’s Wall Day 3 – Spectacular but wet!

Daily Blog
[caption id="attachment_976" align="alignnone" width="480"] Temple of a Roman Sun God (epic fail today)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_977" align="alignnone" width="480"] The lone sycamore[/caption] [caption id="attachment_978" align="alignnone" width="480"] Chris & Dave being daft[/caption]   Chris and I adopted the famous military 'buddy buddy' system this morning by checking each other's feet and applying blister pads.  We then set off on a hilly section with some spectacular scenery.  But first we collected our friend Dave Taylor who was walking this tough section with us. The forecast rain didn't arrive until around an hour into the walk and then another hour after that it was time for waterproof trousers.   Pretty rough underfoot with plenty mud and damp grass.   Stonework was in some places dangerously slippy.  I fell once, fortunately I managed to miss landing…
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Hadrian’s Wall Day 2 – The wall appears

Daily Blog
    [caption id="attachment_966" align="alignnone" width="480"] PLANETS on the Wall[/caption] [caption id="attachment_967" align="alignnone" width="480"] Wall design change[/caption] [caption id="attachment_968" align="alignnone" width="480"] From wall to house[/caption] We must have been doing a blistering pace today!  Four of them - I claim 3 and Chris has one.  Nothing spectacular but a discomfort we could do without. Blister kit has been deployed and resupply to see us through the week will RV with us on Day 4  at Steel Rigg (cheers Jim W). In hindsight I should have deployed the blister kit last night as I had a feeling my tender feet would be even more tender by end of play today.  Four months of training and not a blister between us! When we set off from our farmhouse (Ironsign), it was overcast…
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Hadrian’s Wall Day 1 – Sunny Newcastle

Hadrian’s Wall Day 1 – Sunny Newcastle

Daily Blog
First day under our belts but it wasn't easy.  We always knew it would be an odd walk with the first two thirds in urban environments. The first third of the route took us from Segedumun Fort, the official start/end of the wall walk in the east. There is evidence of Newcastle's previous and declining shipping industry all the way along the Tyne.  The second third took us through modern Newcastle including impressive views of the Sage and Baltic Arts Centres on the opposite bank and the iconic Tyne Bridge which we walked under.  Quite a lot of riverside flats on show, some with nice looking views. The final third takes you to the outskirts and out into the countryside.  We were able to see Heddon-on-the-Wall on top of a…
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My right-hand woman – Chris

My right-hand woman – Chris

Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship
There's been a lot in my blog about cancer, the cancer patient and the medical teams. However, we sometimes forget to mention the close family and friends who are also a piece of the cancer jigsaw. Without these people, it's possible the patient would potentially have a much poorer quality of life. I've had tremendous support from my immediate family and many of my friends. Some of my closest friends have almost been functioning as counsellors. I'm in a much better place than I was nearly 8 years ago but I have a lot of people to thank for some excellent progress.  My son & daughter's families have all been there for me and although my 4 grandsons don't quite understand the situation, their presence in my life is a…
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Just got (a) shot in the buttocks

Daily Blog
[caption id="attachment_857" align="alignnone" width="640"] San Francisco Pier 39 - 2008[/caption]I love watching films and Tom Hanks is one of my favourite actors. He's played such a wide range of parts and I've found every single one of his films enjoyable.  I think the first one I remember was 'Big' - a cracking family film for all ages. When I saw the large floor piano keyboard in Schwartz toy store in New York, I had to give it a go!  On the opposite side of the scale, he's also played in some quite gory films such as 'Saving Private Ryan' - the first 20 minutes sure tested out my surround sound and subwoofer! However, one of my firm favourites is Forrest Gump.  A multi-decade spectacular, amazing acting, amazing locations, amazing visual effects…
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My blog goes International!

Awareness, Patient Advocacy
One of the most interesting statistics in my blog app is the total number of views recorded each day.  It even breaks the total down into which posts were most viewed and which countries the viewers were from (but please note it does not identify the name or any other details of viewers). I'm always very pleased to have readers from overseas locations - I hope they enjoy reading my blog and find it useful. To date, these include readers from USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Barbados, Belize, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Portugal, Austria, UAE, Bahrain, Philippines, Nigeria, Kenya, Croatia, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Japan, Czech Republic. Neuroendocrine Cancer is not unique to UK, it's an International disease. If you research, you will find Neuroendocrine Support groups in most countries. There…
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Diagnostic Challenges

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Treatment
I was checking my statistics this morning and found the most viewed post to date was published on the day Stephen Sutton passed away.   I didn't really want to jump onto the Stephen Sutton bandwagon but when I found on the day of his passing that it had taken 6 months to diagnose his bowel cancer, I knew this would be relevant to Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness, particularly important as it's one of the primary aims of my blog.  I'm thinking the top viewing score to date is not because it mentioned Stephen Sutton (sad as that event was) but because the issues he faced are well known to Neuroendocrine Cancer patients, many of whom are readers. In the past week, the newspapers have published several follow up articles on…
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If it’s not raining, it’s not training

Daily Blog
[caption id="attachment_678" align="alignnone" width="640"] Cold and about to be wet![/caption] Only a week left until Chris and I set off on our 84 mile trek across Hadrian's Wall in the North of England.   We've been training for this since January 2014 and probably covered sufficient distance to have walked the wall 5 times over!   Didn't stop us going for a fast short walk this morning and despite the heat there was no sweat.   I think we're ready :-) For the last few days we've been thinking it might be tougher if this heat continues.  Only a month ago, we were saying it might be tougher with all the rain we were having!  We had a few occasions where we got wet but we just had to get on with it - fortunately our…
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“I may not be rich, but I do have priceless grandchildren”

Daily Blog
[caption id="attachment_4300" align="alignleft" width="300"] My 4 Grandsons (and me if you look carefully!) - picture taken in 2015[/caption] Most of us will have experienced the ubiquitous quotations that somehow manage to go viral around Facebook and emails? Mother, Father, Son, Daughter, Grandson, Granddaughter etc.   I instinctively want to share those and like the post but something nearly always prevents me from doing so.  I suspect there is something in me that says "don't follow the crowd" or perhaps I'm just a shy private person at heart?  (I can hear some of you laughing .....).  However, today, I'm publishing the fact that grandchildren are indeed wonderful!  So what has brought on this sudden emotional outburst? I have 4 grandsons, 2 each from my son and daughter, aided and abetted by…
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Dr Google will see you now

Dr Google will see you now

Awareness, Humour, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship
  Whenever I need to know anything nowadays, I mostly just look on the internet and sometimes I ask my virtual PA 'Alexa' to look for me!  However, you need to be very careful in acceptance of what is credible information and what isn't. As a relatively experienced health blogger and activist, I like to think of myself as 'internet savvy', so I occasionally find myself using 'Dr Google' to diagnose my aches, pains and unusual feelings (and I confess to using it to help others).  I mostly find there are no real or definitive answers online for patient issues.  Although I seem to learn something on each piece of research, I also find some really worrying stuff.  Some symptoms can have dozens of reasons and I often realise how…
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Is there life on other Planets?

Daily Blog
When I was a young lad, I was fascinated by Astronomy.  Not only could I tell you the name of each Planet in order of distance from the sun, but also the actual distance!  In those days, space travel was really taking off culminating in the first manned moon landing in 1969.  I remember staying up all night with my dad so I could watch it on TV (in black and white of course).  The talk then was of where next, Mars? After all this time, we still haven't landed people on that Planet - just shows you the complexity of such missions (and cost of course).  Nobody ever expected to find life on the moon but the excitement about finding life outside earth was as exciting then as it…
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Shrek and Princess Fiona

Shrek and Princess Fiona

Humour, Inspiration, Survivorship
[caption id="attachment_480" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Shrek and Princess Fiona[/caption] I was looking through some old photographs and came across this one I thought you guys might like.  It's pre-diagnosis, 2008 I think. As you can see, despite being an ogre, Shrek is actually quite a handsome chap :-) However, more to the point, Princess Fiona is as you would expect, beautiful and radiant. There's a bit of a story behind this picture as Chris was in fact not very well at the time. This picture was taken in Anaheim (LA) in Disneyland California in 2008. We were there with Chris's brother Gerry (a mad ex paratrooper) and his lovely wife Babs.  Poor Chris developed a mild pneumonia on day 1 when we were in San Francisco having been a bit peaky…
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If you suspect it, you can detect it

Daily Blog
I thought long and hard about today's post because no matter what I say, it will pale into insignificance when put alongside the words of Stephen Sutton who sadly died today at the tender age of 19.  The words used by his mother are particularly powerful. He was certainly a courageous, selfless and inspiring man.    However, although he successfully raised £3.2million for Teenage Cancer Trust - a phenomenal amount for a very worthy charity, I believe Stephen also leaves behind many other very valuable legacies and lessons.  I'd like to focus on two in particular. Social media.   This is one of the key technical innovations of the last 20 years and has changed the way in which society lives and communicates and it's still evolving.   It has altered the way…
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North of the wall is a dangerous place – you must never go there!

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer
  There was a 60 minute silence last night as another episode of Game of Thrones was aired.  Not a Facebook post or tweet in sight.  This has to be 'up there' in a list of the best TV series ever?  Don't know about you but I'm sometimes confused about who is who and how they are related and/or connected!  (see useful chart at the bottom of this post) Chris and I love the introduction bit.  She likes the music, I like the geography.  There are some obvious correlations there, e.g. 'The Wall' is meant to relate to Hadrian's Wall with those horrible barbarian Scots to the north :-)  Thank God Hadrian's Wall and the climate in particular, isn't as bad as portrayed on GOT!   I did contemplate using 'trousers' as…
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Always thank your Nurse – sometimes they’re the only one between you and a hearse!

Always thank your Nurse – sometimes they’re the only one between you and a hearse!

Inspiration, Patient Advocacy, Treatment
I had minimal exposure to nurses throughout the first 55 years of my life.  I did spend a night in hospital when I was 16 having been knocked unconscious in the boxing ring (you should've seen the other guy). Bar the odd mandatory injection, I avoided both boxing and nurses for many years after that. You may remember I discussed how my cancer was diagnosed following a fairly innocuous conversation at my GP's Surgery in May 2010, see blog post 'Diagnosis - I'm no longer in control'.  That nurse was professional, thorough and she clearly went the extra mile for her patients.  She has my eternal thanks for sending me down a different path in the game of chance that is life.  I often wonder where I would be now had she not ordered the 'just…
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My treatment is a pain in the butt!

My treatment is a pain in the butt!

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Treatment
This header is a bit 'tongue in cheek' (....did you see what I did there?)  I'm very happy to have this treatment every 4 weeks - I can think of far worse scenarios.  When I was first diagnosed, the dreaded word 'Chemo' was discussed.  Actually, Chemo isn't particularly effective in treating Neuroendocrine Cancer, although I've heard of cases where it has made a difference. Today's letter is 'L' and there are a few. Lanreotide This is currently my mainstay treatment and I look forward to it once every 4 weeks.  It is injected 'deep subcutaneous' in the upper outer quadrant of the buttock. Prior to my diagnosis, I was a tad squeamish when it came to injections, even the smallest would make me cringe and I couldn't bear to watch…
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Through the Keyhole?

Daily Blog
  Through the Keyhole is a Panel Game Show on telly originally hosted by Lloyd Grossman (who?) and then Sir David Frost.  It was resurrected last year hosted by Keith Lemon.     Sorry to disappoint you but this blog is about a different type of keyhole.  Today I'm on 'K' words (I drew a blank on J). Keyhole Surgery After I had major surgery in Nov 2010, I left the hospital knowing that I'd be returning later for another but I needed to be fit enough first.  This took some time but in Apr 2011, I returned for further surgery, this time on my liver to remove several secondary tumours.  I was told it would be done using 'keyhole' surgery.  Fortunately for me, Neil Pearce is one of the world's most experienced…
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Queen Mother of the Isle of Wight

Daily Blog
  Decided to do a one off today after reading a story published on 7 May on the PLANETS Charity Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/PLANETS-Charity/122088044556397?fref=ts The is a story about a lady who was faced with one of the most deadly cancers - Pancreatic Cancer, where the 5 year survival rate has not risen for the last 40 years (another story for another time).  Young and fit people can struggle with this cancer and its treatment so it must be ultra tough at 83.  Her attitude and strength of character in facing up to this terrible disease is very inspiring to me and an example to all. My own cancer type is not as dangerous as this one.  However, I did have some fairly extensive surgery from the same surgeon and reading this story…
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What have the Romans ever done for us?

Daily Blog
what have the Romans ever done for us? .......... apart from better sanitation, and medicine, and education, and irrigation, and public health, and roads, and a freshwater system, and baths, and public order .......  :-) Well they also left us the outstanding Hadrian's Wall which is the first topic of today's blog.  In Jan 2014, the oldest piece of paper in my 'in tray' was a newspaper article about the World Heritage Site of Hadrian's Wall - it's dated 28 Sep 2003.  When I read it, I warmed to the idea of doing it but procrastinated for over 10 years.   To cut a long story short, Chris and I are going to walk this wall 26 - 31 May to raise funds for PLANETS Charity and to raise awareness of Neuroendocrine Cancer. (After note…
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Who needs a gallblader anyway?

Daily Blog
  There's a few 'G' items to talk about so here goes...... Gallbladder There wasn't really anything wrong with my gallbladder but it had to go.  You may have read previously that I receive a monthly injection of a 'snazzy' drug which keeps me well.  However, long term use of this drug has certain side effects, one being the risk of gallstone formation in up to 50% of cases.  Gallstones can not only be very painful but they can potentially be life threatening. On top of what I had already endured, future surgery to treat gallstones or to remove my gallbladder could be riskier than it might normally have been, so it was conveniently removed during a second major operation on my liver (the gallbladder is located very close). The…
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Quick Thank You

Uncategorized
This isn't my daily blog article but a short note to say thanks to those who are reading via Twitter and Facebook plus new readers from other sources.  I was extremely pleased to see my record of daily views and likes smashed yesterday to an all time high. Additional thanks to those who are already sharing my message and I hope it has been useful to all readers in some way no matter how small. I've received several personal messages of support from friends, patients and relatives of patients.  If you like my blog, please feel free to share and recommend it widely and note I'm open to feedback so I can improve it going forward or just to get confirmation I've got it just right. Also I'm now international…
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Does my Flush beat yours?

Daily Blog
[caption id="attachment_173" align="aligncenter" width="284"] Does my flush beat yours?[/caption] A few 'F' words today :-) Flushing In early 2010, I had been experiencing mild and infrequent warm feelings in my face and neck and I did notice a slight reddening whilst looking in a mirror when it occurred.  It was odd and nothing like I had experienced before.  I thought nothing of it, dismissing it as something to do with my age!  When I was going through the diagnostic phase some months later, the Consultant who carried out the initial set of tests was interrogating me (literally) for any clues which could help him pin down the nature of my problem (I now know he had evidence of cancer but not the type).   I ran through every single niggle…
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Exercise – it’s a free prescription

Daily Blog
[caption id="attachment_147" align="aligncenter" width="480"] Gorgeous Chris xxx[/caption] [caption id="attachment_146" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Check out my new Fat Face hat :-)[/caption]   My E Blog on 5 May 14. Exercise I'm no stranger to exercise having served for 29 years in Her Majesty's Forces.  However, I'm not 21 anymore and I have some health challenges.  Chris isn't 21 either - despite her youthful looks (brownie points...).  Some people are quite impressed by our commitment to walk 84 miles. However, I'm hoping that's going to be the easy bit as the training regime we are putting ourselves through has been hard work and time consuming.  Today we walked 12 miles with Chris suffering neck and back pain and me with a sore right toe.  This followed a 9.5 mile on Saturday and an 8…
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Diagnosis – I’m no longer in control

Diagnosis – I’m no longer in control

Awareness, Survivorship
[caption id="attachment_10806" align="alignnone" width="777"] back in control?[/caption] 'Diagnosis'.  The dreaded moment when you're looking at an Oncologist and waiting to be given some news. I'd been to a routine annual Asthma clinic, referred to my GP, referred to a specialist, had a bunch of tests and now referred to an Oncologist. Rewind 2 months to May 2010......  I was happily working, getting stuff done, making things work. I had sufficient autonomy and freedom of manoeuvre.  I felt in control.  I'm happy as a pig in the proverbial!  My annual Asthma clinic comes along and it's an opportunity to work at home for the day....yahoo - no commuting! "Hi Ronny" - "Hi Liz". Blah Blah Blah. However, glad Liz was taking it seriously - I just wanted to get back to my laptop,…
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The subject nobody wants to talk about

Daily Blog
There are quite a lot of words beginning with C so I'll only cover a few.   The Big C The subject which must not be discussed - or is it?  I read a useful article a month ago where the writer debated where we might be if, 50 years ago, we were as open about the 'big C' as we are now.  Nowadays you cannot turn a page in a newspaper without seeing a story of sadness, inspiration or medical science progress.  Certainly the latter is behind some of the change in thinking in a number of ways.  People are living longer and we now have much better tools to discover and treat Cancer (there I said it). Moreover, because we are more open about Cancer, there is more awareness.  According…
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Bournemouth Marathon

Daily Blog
  Hope you enjoyed the 'A' blog yesterday.  Some of you might also note I changed the previous blog titles to make them more catchy. Here's a few 'B's Bournemouth Marathon I once ran a marathon aged 28 in Verden West Germany 1984.  I was there defending the free world from Communism (ahem....). It was a tough gig even at that age and the training was even tougher.  I'm therefore delighted to announce that my old mate Steve Davis (pictured above), former Orienteering buddy and 'Quaff Club' member, has nominated my PLANETS Charity page as his chosen cause when he runs this event in Oct.  Cheers Steve - you're a very generous guy - maximum respect.  I'll drop off the gorilla suit shortly :-) Blood Tests I touched on this important topic…
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Army to the Rescue

Daily Blog
  I promised you an A-Z so here are some 'A' headlines: Agenda.  The walk is 84 miles long - Chris and I will be walking from East to West over 6 days as follows: 25 May - Staying with friends near Newcastle 26 May - Wallsend to Heddon-on-the-Wall (with Nick Naylor) 27 May - Heddon-on-the-Wall to Chollerford  28 May - Chollerford to Once Brewed (with Dave Taylor) 29 May - Once Brewed to Lanercost (nr Brampton) (with Jim Waterson) 30 May - Lanercost to Carlisle 31 May - Carlisle to Bowness on-Solway 1 Jun - Lazy breakfast in our lodgings and then head south homewards! Army I've had some amazing support from ex Army colleagues, not just a donation to the cause but also the use of their time and access to their contacts.…
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