16 August - Radiotherapy preparation

Well, the holiday is over! Treatment proper starts in two days, on Thursday.

This morning's appointment started with a blood test to check that my blood levels are good enough to start the treatment. They will do this every week during the treatment. I was told my blood was "very good."

Then to the radiotherapy simulator room where I spent half an hour or so pinned to the bed under my face mask. Two technicians (or whatever they are called) made marks on the mask and conversed with one another in an unintelligible jargon. I'm sure the word "soup" was mentioned several times. Whether or not this was a reference to the contents of my head was unclear to me.

Meanwhile Olga was despatched to the hospital pharmacy with a prescription and came back 50 minutes later with a large bag of medicine. These included the temozolomide (chemotherapy) which I must take on an empty stomach one hour before the radiotherapy begins. To get the exact dose for my body I will have to take five separate capsules or tablets of different strengths. There is also an anti-sickness tablet which is supposed to stop me vomiting the temozolomide back up again. This on top of the steroid medication that I am already taking and the capsule that protects my stomach from that. In case the chemotherapy gives me constipation they have also prescribed a laxative that I can take if needed. Personally I'm putting my faith in bran flakes, beetroot salad and Californian prunes.

The radiotherapy will go on five days a week for six weeks. After that there will be a break, followed by a heavy course of chemotherapy only. Then another break, then more chemotherapy - about six months' treatment in total. By then, they will either have killed the cancer or me!

This all depends on how I respond to the treatment, of course, but because I'm feeling so fit at the moment I think I'm giving it the best possible chance of succeeding. Part of me is sorry that the period of feeling fit and almost back to normal is likely to be over for a while. Chances are I won't be taking to the streets on my bike or building any more electronic kits for a while. Olga and I will have one last dinner with wine this evening. I haven't actually been told you must lay off alcohol during chemotherapy, but with all the drugs I will be ingesting over the next six months abstinence probably won't be a bad idea.

No pain, no gain, as they say. Perhaps the effects of the treatment won't be so bad for me. But if that's what it takes to beat the bugger, I'm as ready to take it now as I'll ever be.