In my February 2021 post, I lamented that I still hadn’t had the surgery I’d been waiting 12 months for. I even went so far as to wonder whether I’d actually get the surgery in March at all. At the time I put this down to increasing feelings of depression. In hindsight, though, it might turn out that I’ve got a touch of the foresight…! March 2021 has been a very strange month!

But let’s start with the depression aspect. In my February post, I identified that, while my therapist sessions were helpful, they weren’t actually achieving much. I primarily felt that this was because I was struggling so much with the uncertainty around having to wait so long for the surgery. Frankly, in the face of such difficulties, what therapist had a chance to properly help?

So, and with that in mind, I decided to end my therapy sessions. I actually cancelled the meeting I had booked for the 5th March 2021. This wasn’t a decision that I took lightly but, by that stage, the anticipation of the therapy sessions was one of the biggest stressors in my week!

Not a good sign.

The relief I felt after bringing these meetings to an end was significant. It very quickly seemed like I’d made the right decision. And, looking back from the perspective of four weeks later, I stand by my decision. I seem to be coping pretty well on my own.

That’s not to say that there weren’t any tricky times, because there were. The couple of weeks after I cancelled the session, in particular, were tough. Not least because I was still stuck with the waiting, this time for the results of the PET Scan. And, again going back to my February post, I speculated that I might hear from the Bristol Royal Infirmary with the results of this Scan on the 2nd or 3rd of March.

But that didn’t happen.

So I tried calling the BRI the following Monday. And I actually did get through to a real person. But when I said that I was chasing up results, she put me through to an automated queuing system. There, I was invited to leave a message… Sadly, this message needed to include an awful lot of information, very little of which I had to hand. So I bailed on the call and sulked for a day or two.

In the end, I did what I always do in these situation: I called the colorectal nurse specialists at Musgrove Park Hospital. These ladies have been with me since the very beginning. Indeed, one of these nurses was in the room with me and my wife, the first time I was told I had cancer. Thinking about it, one of them has been present for all the meetings that I’ve been told I’ve had cancer…!

And to my mind, for colorectal nurse specialists, that day is ‘today’… Which is every day! They’re simply awesome.
Photo by Gabriel Bassino on Unsplash

My point is: the colorectal nurse specialists are the people you talk to when you need something sorted. And for this reason, they’re also frighteningly busy. Which meant that I had to leave a message…

And, two days later, on Friday 12th March 2021, I got called back and received some very unexpected news.

My case had already been discussed in Bristol, the previous week. The conclusion of this discussion was that I didn’t need surgery. Now, quite why it didn’t occur to anyone that I would want this information is beyond me, but there you go.

And, to be fair, even in my one-to-one conversation with the colorectal nurse specialist, it took a while to work out what was going on…

It seemed that the SABR Radiotherapy that I’d had back in May has done a better than expected job. The PET/CT scan I had in August showed that the tumour had shrunk by 25%. My PET Scan in November made clear that, while there was still some cancer present, it was less obvious. And then the PET Scan I had in February didn’t show any cancer at all.

The upshot of all this, and the reason that it took so long for the nurse to get back to me, was the confusion arising from this sequence of events. In the end, the specialists decided that the activity in the November scan was probably not cancer at all. Instead, it was more likely to have been my liver mopping up the last of the cancer cells that the SABR treatment had destroyed.

All of which means that I’m presently classed as ‘cancer-free’…

Hence the feeling of freedom mentioned in the title.

In truth, though, it’s been a very hard concept to get to grips with. I should be feeling thrilled. After all, I’m being told that my cancer is all gone. And, taken together with what the surgeon said about my brush with cancer seemingly coming towards an end, it’s entirely possible that I’m free of this thing.

However, and it’s a big ‘however’, this is not the first time that I’ve been told that I’m cancer free…

On the other hand, it is the first time I’ve been told that I’m cancer free after I’ve been told that my brush with cancer is seemingly coming towards an end!

Like I say, March 2021 has been a very strange month…
Photo by Kristina V on Unsplash

What it definitely is, is good news.

Despite this, it took a good week to get that straight in my head. At which point, on Tuesday 23rd March 2021, I got a call inviting me to a meeting with the oncologist, for the following day. This came as something of a surprise, because the colorectal nurse specialist had indicated that my next meeting with the oncologist would be three months hence.

The oncologist, as it turned out, had other ideas!

In reality, though, all the oncologist did was confirm what the colorectal nurse specialist had told me. Even so, a bit of confirmation is always nice in these situations. But I think the main reason he called was to arrange to send me some blood forms. During the first few years of this illness, I was having blood tests every three months. It now seems a very long time since I’ve last had a blood test, even taking into account the COVID lockdowns…

Anyway, he did send through some blood forms, one set for when we meet in June, and another set for now. And, by ‘now’ I mean, ‘a couple of weeks ago, when he sent them’.


I’d better put a reminder on my phone to make an appointment just as soon as the GP surgery reopens after Easter…

But, outstanding blood tests notwithstanding, this is a genuine period of freedom for me. I’ll be given another set of scans around six months after my February PET Scan. Which, presumably, will be some time in August. Maybe early September.

Between now and then, however, I have nothing to worry about.

Which means that I won’t be able to write monthly updates for a while, due to lack of anything to report. The meeting I’ll have with the oncologist in June will be a routine look at the blood tests and a, ‘how are you getting on’ chat. Hardly worth a post.

Unless, of course, it is; in which case I’ll do a post…

But, all being well, this will be my last monthly update for a few months.

I will, however, keep doing the monthly ‘can it cause cancer’ or ‘can it cure cancer’ posts. Predominantly because I find these investigations interesting, but also to make sure that everyone knows that I’m still alive.

So, and for the time being, let me just reiterate my thanks for all of your support over this past couple of years. It’s been much appreciated.

And wouldn’t it be nice if, looking back from the future, March 2021 marked the start of my freedom from cancer?

The Germanic equivalent of ‘fingers crossed’.
By Grey Geezer – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

I think that I could live with that.

9 thoughts on “March 2021 Update and Freedom?”

  1. Wow! What’ a story, just brilliant, brilliant news. Looking forward to seeing you back at the club. Love to Julie and the girls.

    1. Hi Vicky,
      Thanks for that, it does feel like good news.
      All I need to do now is sort out this arthritis in my knee, and I can get back to the club.
      Take care,

  2. Dolorem Mooney

    I am so for you. Hopefully you have this thing beaten. My ex husband best friend was diagnosed in 2016. (He lives in Italy). He had surgery and he thought he’d dodged the bullet but it came back and they did open surgery this time. To get the whole of the tumour out they had to cut through a nerve and he was left not being able to use his left leg properly. We considered it a price worth paying if it had got rid of the cancer. It came back and he was on Avastin and another agent (5-Fluro something?) He did 19 rounds of that and when he had his scan the tumour had gone to his liver and lungs. They put him on a drug called Stivarga which had terrible side effects – so bad they stopped it after 2 cycles. I know every case is different but I read about you with the SABR treatment and wondered if he could be a candidate? I cannot visit him because of the lockdown and his sister said I shouldn’t try to travel because they won’t let my daughter and I in to see him because of Covid. I am sick to my stomach about this. Sorry for going on but my heart is broken. He has always been so healthy. I called him my ‘Lion-heart’ .

    1. Hi Dolorem,
      Many thanks for your kind words, and sorry to hear all the difficulties your family is going through.
      Unfortunately I’m not sure that SABR would suitable for your ex-husband. My understanding is that SABR can only be used in limited circumstances. The main issue is that SABR delivers such a high dose that the target area has to be completely stationary, to stop the surrounding tissue getting damaged. I don’t know if this would work in the lungs. I also don’t know whether SABR is an option where there are multiple tumours. Hopefully I’m completely wrong and your ex-husband will be given the treatment, it certainly can’t hurt to ask.
      Another thing that I’ve heard about from my oncologist, but never actually had as a treatment, is SIRT. This is a treatment where small beads of radioactive material are surgically introduced to the inside of a tumour. The radiation then destroys the tumour from the inside, out. Again, it can’t hurt to ask about this as a treatment.
      I hope that your ex-husband is able to find is way through his treatment, and that you and your daughter are able to see him soon.
      Take care,

  3. Doloresm Mooney

    In my post it looks like Im talking about my husband’s best friend. I meant to say that despite being separated he is my best friend and beloved father to our daughter

  4. I lost my brother to bowel cancer in 2018 – he didn’t quite manage to get to his 58th birthday. I miss him so much and was searching the web after he died, wondering how other people dealt with the disease and their loss, and came across your site which in a strange way gave me some comfort reading your insights – my brother didn’t express much but I felt I understood more what he went through as you have shared your experience. I check in occasionally with trepidation for your latest news and can’t tell you how thrilled I am to hear you have a reprieve – it has made me cry – relief for you and your family and sadness that my brother’s journey was all downhill. I fervently hope you stay well and cancer free.

    1. Hello Annette,
      I’m so sorry for your loss, 57 is far too young.
      I’m glad that you found my site useful, it’s nice to know that it’s doing what I hoped that it would, helping people.
      And thank you for your kind words, and for watching over me, it’s appreciated.
      Take care,

  5. Hi there Paul. I hope you are doing well. I have not responded to your post. It has been almost nine months. I posted on May 15th 2021 and my husband passed away on the 19th of May. I thank you so much for your reply but by the time you posted, he was gone. I have only now been able to reply to your post. I am beyond devastated. My daughter is grief stricken like me and we have to walk around each other as if we’re walking on eggshells as anything one says can set the tears going in the other and vice versa. He did not want the last treatment as he had already suffered so much but we all (me, my daughter, his sister and his Mother) urged him to go ahead and I feel we were the cause of his death. Paul, I don’t know you and I’m sorry if I have given you too much information. I know you are fighting your own battle and I wish you all the best. Keep on fighting- for yourself and for your family. I would not wish this hurt on anyone

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *