Wednesday, January 28, 2009

57. Australia and Back

PHOTOS: Me, Kas and Chloe on the Taronga Zoo Ferry; Chloe on her beach towel; Mum and I walking the Pram; Family day out at the Zoo; Kas and Chloe on Stanwell Park Beach; Dad and I; Kas, Tash and Chloe at the Zoo; Paragliding at Stanwell Tops; Tash, Claire and Nick going out to dinner; Giraffe in front of Sydney Harbour; Drew and Chloe in Cowra; Chloe leading Dad; Hayden sharing the love; Chloe touching an Australia python; Spider caught in the flash...
Once again, it’s been a while since my last update. No news is good news in that sense I guess. Eight weeks ago I was enduring the busiest period at work, counting the days down until Kas, Chloe and I boarded a plane to an Australian summer and also a PCR that was to determine so many things in my prognosis and treatment. Where to start!

Only three days before we backed the boardies, zipped up the cases and headed for Glasgow Airport en route to Sydney, an email appeared in my inbox entitled ‘Matt’s PCR’. I’ve never been one to sit back and contemplate what something of significance will mean to me – instead, I opened it up and read it before I even got my email alert. To me, it was a great result of 0.29%. The lowest result I have ever got and more convincing that the previous one of 0.67%. A nice present before we head on holidays. And that’s how I left it, a nice result even though it wasn’t at the gold standard 0.1% that the consultants were hoping for but a good result none the less. I had my consultation booked in the diary for the day after I arrived back from holidays, so at least there was one thing less to worry about.

Anyone who has ever travelled longhaul with a one year old will know pretty much how our trip went. I’m not going to moan about the plane journey because in truth, there were some times that I thoroughly enjoyed myself (the free business class champagne from a air hostess that loved Chloe wasn’t bad – even though she never witnessed Chloe running into business class and pouring water on a man fast asleep on his flatbed…) The stopover on the way there was good and bad depending on how I looked at it. Dubai gave us a chance to charge our batteries and breakup the trip but it also meant a whole day longer until we were back on Aussie soil. Finally we arrived after the 15 hour second leg and it was back to Cowra for two weeks to soak up the rays with my family – gold!

Seeing the kids all play together was priceless and it was great how much they all got on. It was the first time since I’d seen my mum since she had a tumour removed from the thyroid last year and I was very pleased to see how well she was looking. I think there was a smile on my face the entire trip. Then we all piled into the cars and headed down to Stanwell Park, an hour south of Sydney on the coast, where my folks had organised a beautiful beach house for us all. With the fish markets nearby, we were rarely short of fresh seafood and with the beach so close, we were rarely dry. With the temperature hovering anywhere from 26 to 41 degrees and not one drop of rain the entire holiday, the water was the only place to seek refuge – a lot different to the winter temps back in Scotland. All in all, it was an amazing trip back home to see my family (seeing Chloe’s cousin’s Hayden and Eliza growing up was unreal) and my mates and a trip I’d like to make far more often. The only downer was seeing the Aussies lose to South Africa in the cricket on home soil, a first for 16 years! I’m ready for that call up to the national team…

…25 hours on a plane later, we were back in Scotland where it was time to head back to the real world and back to the Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow. I saw my Consultant pretty swiftly and we must have chatted for over an hour. She is still desperate to get my PCR below 0.1% because they are now referring to this level of residual leukaemia as a ‘safe haven’. Although 0.29% isn’t very far away and in actual fact, I’m doing very well on the meds, she’s still desperate to try different things rather than sit back, waiting to see what happens. She’s happy to observe for another 6 months but if there’s sign of budging, there’s a good chance I’ll move onto the new Novartis drug ‘nilotinib’, the sister drug to Gleevec. It can only be a good thing to have one of the most respected CML specialists in the world with my health at the top of her mind. We were also discussing what our next adventure to raise money for the Leukaemia Centre may be? My next PCR is scheduled for 4 weeks time, so this will be the first of three to determine what the next steps are.

Thanks again for the emails, please keep them coming in. Fingers crossed for my next PCR in one month…


Anonymous said...

brendie said...
hi matt,i wanted you to know,that i,ve had cml for 14 years this
christmas,always on treatment
including an autograft transplant
in 1995,and i still get nervous on my monthly chats with the consultant.i don,t think that ever leaves ,but neither does the zest &
appreciation for dearest aim
was to see my girl grow up,she,s 25

Annie - Steven's mom said...

Hi Matt

So you are in "holding pattern' right now - waiting for those results....... know that my fingers are firmly crossed that this result is better than expected...

It sounds like a wonderful holiday you had - awesome :)

love and light
Steven's mom
ps - GO SOUTH AFRICA! my homeland :)