In 2012, I noticed a lump in my left belly; I ignored it generally and continued my life of hard physical work.
Eventually I asked my doctor to take a look at it. Over a two-year period, 2 different doctors looked at it but it wasn’t examined fully. I then noticed a change in my digestion; I began experiencing diarrhoea and constipation, but again I generally ignored these symptoms and put it down to my diet; beer and eating out.
In April 2016, I was visiting my relatives in Brighton and developed bad constipation – I was rushed to Royal Sussex hospital and operated on urgently. I had my whole colon removed and a stoma created. I was in hospital for 3 weeks recovering; they had talked about transferring me back to RSH but it proved difficult to arrange. I did eventually return home and I was back at the Lingen Davies Centre 5 weeks after for my last chemotherapy!
Recovery felt like hard work but the loss of the tumor somehow seemed to make me stronger. My lymphoma is a terminal illness, but the chemotherapy has held it in check.
I am very lucky that my experience of nausea and other side effects has been relatively good thanks to the great care given, and my relative youth and fitness. Between 2015 and 2018 I had 7 different PICC lines fitted and got to travel widely with my wife, visiting Greece, Japan and British Columbia Canada. There have been 3 lesser hospital admissions in the last 5 years for infections, and at least 12 scheduled CT Scans.
In March 2018 I had a Portacath fitted in Stoke Hospital that makes for a safer and easier life.
A stoma is an opening on the abdomen that can be connected to either your digestive or urinary system to allow waste (urine or faeces) to be diverted out of your body.
A PICC line is a thin, soft, long catheter (tube) that is inserted into a vein in your arm, leg or neck. The tip of the catheter is positioned in a large vein that carries blood into the heart. The PICC line is used for long-term intravenous (IV) antibiotics, nutrition or medications, and for blood draws.
A portacath is a small chamber or reservoir that sits under your skin at the end of your central line. The other end of the line sits in a large vein close to your heart. You can feel the chamber of the portacath, but unless you’re very thin you can’t usually see it. When you need treatment, your chemotherapy nurse puts a needle into the chamber and gives you injections or attaches a drip. The drugs travel from the chamber to the tubing and into your bloodstream. The portacath stays in place for as long as you need treatment.