One of my favourite memories from childhood is the vision of the finest looking cattle in the UK – the Highland ‘Coo’ (for those who are thinking I’ve made a mistake in my title spelling, read on!). The memories are not confined to seeing them grazing in the fields but I also remember them as the iconic symbol of a famous Scottish toffee known as “Highland Toffee” made by McGowans in Stenhousemuir – also famous for its football team 🙂 Having researched this toffee for my blog, I just found out the firm went bust in 2011. However, the brand survived and the toffee bars are now made in England (grrrrr, sacrilege!).
The first overnight stay during the Hadrian’s Wall challenge (see blog links below) was at a farmhouse near Heddon on the Wall. I was astonished to find they had several Highland Coos. Thinking this discovery was ‘bloggable’, I asked if I could get myself photographed next to them but the owner was clearly not up for this stunt!
Chris and I were chatting to the landlady after breakfast and she explained their business strategy was to provide a ‘field to plate’ experience for their guests. Having quickly thought about what I’d eaten, I was relieved to remember that I hadn’t eaten any beef. I’ve eaten a few steaks in Scotland but that was always without being introduced to the donating animal. In any case, Highland Coos are for looking at, not eating…..and their milk is used to make Highland Toffee 🙂 The landlady then recounted her first culling experience with the first 3 lambs she owned – called Maisy, Daisy and Lazy. She said it was a pretty tough thing to do having got to know them. Chris and I suddenly remembered we had lamb for dinner the night before 🙁
The ‘Field to Plate’ strategy got me thinking that it would be good if Neuroendocrine Cancer patients were able to go to one place for all their requirements. I see an Oncologist in Bournemouth, I’ve had surgery in Southampton, I recently had a scan in Poole and I have my monthly Lanreotide injections done somewhere else! I suspect the rarity of this disease combined with the wide distribution of sufferers means most people will have to travel for some aspects of their treatment. Add to that the specialised nature of the treatments and the specialised medical staff, then it’s probably not possible except perhaps in Centres of Excellence and well developed and resourced NET Clinics. In the UK, there are a few and the list is here: http://www.netpatientfoundation.org/net-clinics-research/ (I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this list). The Carcinoid Cancer Foundation also has a useful list here: http://www.carcinoid.org/patient/treatment/find-a-doctor (again I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this list but I can already see that Southampton UK expertise is not listed).
Another grouping that should interest Neuroendocrine Cancer patients is a Multi-Disciplinary team (MDT). This team is a group of doctors and other health professionals with expertise in a specific cancer, who together discuss and manage an individual patient’s care. They plan the treatment that’s best for you. The team normally includes (but is not limited to), an Oncologist, Surgeon, Radiologist (plus Interventional types if necessary), Pathologist and a Clinical Nurse Specialist. If you are not being looked after by an MDT, you should ask why not!
Almost forgot ‘the Highland Coup’ bit. For those reading between the lines, this had nothing to do with Alex Salmond and the Scottish Independence referendum…… 🙂 My late father always made my brothers and I laugh when he was reading the newspaper. He had a habit of reading it out loud which was handy as we got a summary of the news headlines – or so we thought! He would occasionally make it up, although some of it was obviously a wind up…..e.g. “hen overturns double-decker bus in High Street”. However, he sometimes did not pronounce certain words correctly and when my brothers and sisters reminisce about him today, one of us will always repeat his most famous and amusing headline quote – “There’s been another ‘cowp‘ in Africa”.
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As a reminder, you can view the blogs for Days 1 to 6 of our walk as follows:
Day 1 – Wallsend to Heddon-on-the-Wall http://wp.me/p4AplF-ew
Day 2 – Heddon-on-the-Wall to Chollerford http://wp.me/p4AplF-eN
Day 3 – Chollerford to Steel Rigg http://wp.me/p4AplF-fI
Day 4 – Steel Rigg to Lanercost http://wp.me/p4AplF-fS
Day 5 – Lanercost to Carlisle http://wp.me/p4AplF-gK
Day 6 – Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway http://wp.me/p4AplF-hT