I realise I never put a post about the origins of Janet’s cancer – this is to rectify that. Earlier this year my wife noticed a pain in her back, “like sciatica”, which did not go away with simple analgesia (paracetamol). As it persisted, she went to the GP, who initially assumed it was a recurrence of Polymyalgia Rheumatica, which she’d had two years previously. He prescribed steroids – but to no effect.
After a convoluted journey involving several doctors, Janet was admitted to Hull Royal Infirmary with a very high blood sugar (steroid-induced as it turned out), and in hospital was found to have a large shadow in the left lung. A CT scan followed, which showed both a cancerous tumour in the lung, and multiple smaller tumours in lymph nodes, liver, and bones, particularly the spine and pelvis. These were undoubtedly the cause of the persistent back pain.
Professor Alyn Morice, under whose care Janet had been admitted, is a respiratory physician with an interest in lung cancer. He explained that if, after a biopsy (which showed a poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma), DNA testing showed a particular mutation, then Janet could be treated with a new drug, Afatinib, which would stop the cancer in its tracks and could prolong life significantly.
We duly waited for the genetic results, and were seen by Prof Mike Lind, the oncologist, who confirmed that the test was positive, and prescribed Afatinib, a second generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor. At that time we did not realise how unlikely an outcome this was, but three months later discovered that only 5% show a positive result (15% in London series because more common in those from the far East and SE Asia).
So the picture was unexpectedly grim, with only the hope of benefit from the Afatinib, and faith in God’s goodness and love. Janet quickly came to a state of peaceful acceptance, which I think I shared. Many people prayed.