28 June 2012

A new word in my personal lexicon

Regular readers will know that I have been spending a fair bit of time attending to my last surviving uncle (He lives with my mum and dad) who was taken ill and rushed to hospital two weeks ago. He spent a week in hospital and was discharged last Thursday.  I did not get the opportunity opportunity to speak to any of the doctors treating him in Hospital and Denis himself did not really understand what the doctors told him. It was only the following day that I discovered his diagnosis; he had forgotten to bring the medicines prescribed to him while at hospital and a copy of the discharge letter sent to his GP was included with them. Having a good (if rather old) grounding in mammalian physiology I knew I was better placed to understand the letter than my uncle or my parents.

The diagnosis was not so bad - obstructive jaundice. That was relieved during his stay by insertion of a stent into his bile duct. The second diagnosis was a rather more serious and which added the new word to my lexicon.

I had never heard of Cholangiocarcinoma before although it was not too hard to work out what it was what with carcinoma meaning cancer and cholangio referring to the bile ducts,  It was not hard to ind useful information about the cancer on the internet. AMMF a charity devoted to this particular form of cancer was particularly helpful.

The problem with Cholangiocarcinoma is that it is uncommon and a bugger to diagnose. The symptoms are similar to several other conditions. As a result it is often not identified until the cancer is in a later stage. The only reliable treatment is surgery and only if the cancer presented early. The doctors treating Denis in hospital have decided that surgery is not an option so he will receive either chemo- or radiotherapy. This indicates that any treatment will be aimed at giving better life quality than curing the cancer.

Persons with Cholangiocarcinoma where surgery is not an option have a life expectancy of six months to a year. Our main priority will be to ensure he is as comfortable as possible during this time

I have been extremely fortunate still to have my parents (dad is 86 and mum is 84 next month) Denis will be 83 next month. They have outlived the vast majority of their friends. All of them are pleasantly surprised that they have lived so long. I am blessed to still have two parents in my 50th year.


Claude said...

I'm so sorry. Let's hope the stent and radiotherapy will help Uncle Dennis. Chemotherapy can be a dreadful treatment to endure, and not worth the intense after discomfort.

You're all in my heart and prayers.

jams o donnell said...

Thanks Claude. The stent did improve things but obviously won't be anything but a palliative.

I hope that whatever the oncologists do it provides him with a decent quality of life

nursemyra said...

So are you the only one in the family who knows the diagnosis?

Syncopated Eyeball said...

I'm sorry, Shaun, I've had no idea this was happening due to not being online very much in the last couple of weeks. I wish your uncle Dennis every peace possible.

susan said...

I knew someone close to you was ill Shaun, but not who. I hope your Uncle Denis can be kept comfortable during his treatment and is at peace with the long term prognosis.

I also hope that it wasn't you who had to tell him and your parents what the doctors have determined. My mother was 87 when her doctor told her she had lung cancer and asked if she wanted treatment. She said no and went on to live another 18 contented months.

May your parents and your uncle be with you much longer.

jams o donnell said...

Thanks everyone. This is new territory for me. It is a blessing that I never had to face something like this before.

Nursie I told my father on the same day I worked out the consequences of his diagnosis. He had an appointment with the gastroenterologist on Tuesday who told Denis. I told mum after the appointment.

CherryPie said...

I am sorry to hear your uncles diagnosis and I hope that he keeps his quality of life.

Make sure that lots of questions are asked about the different treatments and the pros and cons, as Claude said Chemotherapy can be very severe.

jams o donnell said...

We wilknow what the oncologist proposess next week. There are pros and cons but none of them will cure the cancer only retard its progress

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Sorry to hear this. I hope that your uncle's remaining time will be made as easy as possible.

jams o donnell said...

Thanks Snoopy. That's our plan

Helen Morement said...

Hi Shaun

We came across your blog today quite by chance and were very sorry to hear your uncle had been diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma.

Many thanks for the kind comment re AMMF's website - our aims are to raise awareness, provide information, and to encourage and support research.

Thank you for doing your bit to raise awareness.

Best regards

Helen Morement
Chairman / Trustee

jams o donnell said...

You're welcome.Your site was very helpful. Sadly the cancer took him in mid august.