The story so far!

To my family and friends, this blog will be a way for you guys to follow my journey as I under go treatment for tumour in my neck. Hopefully this will help everyone follow my health progress and help you understand medically what’s going on and will help you know how to support Sue, Dan, Sophy, Amy and myself as we work through this time together.

I will try to update everyone as often as I can, but bare with me if there are gaps in time.

To explain what’s been going on I have decided to write this down in words as its of often easier in words rather than trying to explain the same thing to lots of different people, especially when your emotions can be all over the place, although it’s getting easier as the days go by. So here hopefully explains what’s been going on over the last 8 months during my many visits to the doctors and the hospitals.

The story all started last November, when the design agency I was working in decided to get involved in Movember. Six guys including myself started Movember clean shaven and grew our moustaches throughout the month to raise money.

Movember is responsible for the sprouting of millions of moustaches around the world. With their “Mo’s” men raise vital funds and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer and mental health. As an independent global charity, Movember’s vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health.

During this month we took photos every day of all our progress. At the end of the month I was putting all these images together to make a slideshow of our progress. It was at this time that I noticed that the left side of my face was quite balanced with my right side. So I felt and checked my neck I realised there was something not even. This kick started my journey to the doctors and hospitals.

After many appointments, 4 ultrasound scans and 3 biopsies, an MRI scan, a PET scan and a CT scan, the doctors started understand what is going on and we was told a couple of weeks ago that the lump was a tumour and would need to be removed. I have since found out that the tumour has some malignant cells. I have been under the Princess Royal here in Farnborough, but have now been referred up to Guys and St Thomas hospitals who have carried out further investigations. From the point of view of the operation we are no worse off than we were earlier in the summer, it’s just that we now know the tumour contains some malignant cells and is pretty rare form of cancel which is called a Paraganglioma growing around my vegas nerve in my neck. There are positives from the PET scan in that nothing has spread any further than my neck, i.e. the rest of my body is clear.

After 5 appointments in 2 weeks we have now seen the 2 senior surgeons who will lead 2 different team for the operation at Guys and I also have a date for the operation which is Tuesday 17 September (my mums birthday). So after the initial shock of finding out what was going on, we are both happy that we are under 2 great surgeons who understand what needs to happen and they have both put us at peace about what lies ahead, eventhough it will be difficult. I will be in hospital for a week to 2 weeks and then off work for a further 3 weeks. By time I come out of hospital they will then be able to say whether I will need any further treatment such as radio therapy, in the weeks to come.

Sue and I are feeling positive that we are finally getting to see the light at the end of the tunnel as we have a operation date, even though we know then next few months are going be tough. We are very blessed to have the prayers and support of all our families and friends and our wider family at St Paul’s Crofton, all of whom have supported so far in this already difficult year, having lost Sue’s brother in March, Sue’s mum in August and with my dad’s ongoing treatment for bowel cancer. Our friends at St Paul’s are also supporting us practically in that they have arranged a rota to provide us with meals for Sue and kids for the first 2 weeks whilst I’m in hospital, this has also been a real blessing.

Please continue to pray for Sue, Dan, Sophy, Amy and myself that we will be strong for each other and that we will get through the remainder of the year. Please also pray that when I have the operation that God will skilfully guide the surgeons hands and that there might be minimum complications. The operation does have some elements of risk, such as the tumour is growing around my main facial (vegas) nerve and close to some main arteries.

The kids have been great so far and seem to be coping well with the endless stream of bad news. But please pray for them and the youth leaders too, for wisdom as they help us support them.

Hopefully this will help you all understand medically what’s going on and follow my progress and it might help you to know how to support Sue, Dan, Sophy, Amy and myself as we work through this time together.

I will try to update everyone as often as I can, but bare with me if there are gaps in time.

Thanks
Neil

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