This won’t be the last time.

So, our third trip to ‘down under’ is complete. Including our previous trips we have spent a total of 15 weeks in Australia.

Now don’t jump to the conclusion that we might up sticks and move out to that lovely country, l doubt that will happen despite the draw of my daughter living in Melbourne. We love to visit and have been three times in four years albeit with 18 months to two years between trips. This latest holiday started on 9th March and we had three of us going this time with my eldest daughter Charlotte joining Fran and myself. We had booked Singapore airlines mid last year when they had special deals on, we got there – return for £2000, which is actually a bit of a bargain. Previously we travelled with Etihad but on the 2nd trip in ’15 we got fed up with the staging through Abu Dhabi, and decided to try something different, and it cost nearly the same for two of us. Singapore stages through Changi with stops of 3 hours out and 6 hours back. It’s a quantum leap from Abu Dhabi and much better organised. So we started very early doors on the 9th, thanks to GP Cars of Bordon and Colin our driver. The flight was at 11:00 for the 13 hours duration to Singapore, and that was all succesful, very smooth in the Airbus A380, flying overnight and landing at silly o’clock on Friday 10th, coincidentally my birthday! I asked a flight attendant if there was any champagne on board, and they obliged by bringing three glasses of it, a birthday card and a present of a pack of playing cards for each of us. A lovely gesture which was typical of the great service you get with Singapore Airlines. Had a mooch around Changi for three hours waiting for our connecting flight and again all smooth arriving in Melbourne after an eight hour flight at nine pm or so. We were met by Teresa and Kev who had borrowed a bigger car from work (Ford) to move us and all our stuff to their flat where we staying for the first night.

The night we arrived was still my birthday  l opened cards and presents and after a bite crashed for the night. The next day we got an über (very successful in Melbourne) and got taken to our home for the next 7 days, Central YHA in Flinders Street. We unpacked and got ready to go to Langans, a high class all-you-can-eat restaurant above its eponymous hotel. We had the first sitting at 5pm and there was quite a crowd waiting to get in. The wait was worth it, the food was from every corner of the globe and as in the title, you could stuff yourself.

(This photo is from the top of the Garden Tea Room in Melbourne)

It was a lovely meal and we walked around for a bit afterwards to wear it off.

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The Repair Cafe

For the last 18 months or so, I have been involved with a repair cafe.
A Repair Cafe is a meeting place for people who have something that needs repairing, and people who could possibly repair them. The movement started in Holland some years ago and the concept has spread throughout the world being very popular in Brazil and Australia. In Britain there are about 26 repair cafes and the one I go to is in Farnham, Surrey. We meet every second Saturday in the hall attached to the Farnham United Reform Church opposite Sainsbury’s, between 10am and 12.30am.
The object of the repair cafe is to avoid throwing away repairable items which would otherwise be dumped into landfill. The stats for 2016 are:
Visitors to FRC : 848
Repairs completed: 245
Repair success rate: 64%
Landfill diversion: 756 kg
CO2 Reduction.46%

As it says in our Facebook Page:
“Repair Cafés are free ‘community-centred workshops’ for people to bring consumer products in need of repair, where they can work together with volunteer fixers to repair and maintain their broken or faulty products. In addition to repair, many Repair Cafés provide assistance with product modification, particularly to clothing to improve fit and appearance.” Charter & Keiller.

So if you need anything repairing or need creative advice come along to the Farnham United Reformed Church, South St, Farnham on Saturday 11th March at 10am. Bring your broken electrical goods, bikes, computers, wood products, sewing projects or mechanical items and see what we can do. The experts who repair have a wide range of skills and backgrounds, and you never know, you might save money and landfill.

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And so it finishes…

The treatment that is, for now.

The brachytherapy went well, it was not as bad as I thought it was going to be, and I didn’t have a general anaesthetic! I arrived at St Luke’s on Wednesday a bit early as they had phoned to say the surgeons list was going well and could I be there before my alloted time? No problem so we arrived and we’re checked in and got into hospital gown and anti DVT socks (they are a bugger to get on). Then the aneathetist of all people turns porter and wheels me round to the pre op room. There he drops the bombshell having looked at my notes (I indicated I don’t like general anaesthetic). He gives me via a canula an injection which he said would make me feel like I’ve ‘drunk half a bottle of wine’, then gives me the what I called an epidural in my back. Then I met the surgeon who’s only the boss, Prof Stephen Langley, excellent! They wheeled me laid me on my back, legs up into stirrups (like giving birth) and then they got in with it. The aneathetist asked me from time to time how I was feeling and I asked him after a while how long I’d been here and he says an hour. Felt like 10 minutes to me. The only problem I had was pins and needles in my right hand where the blood pressure cuff was on my arm. Went away after a while. They wheeled me back to recovery and it felt like I didn’t have a bum and legs; they were completely numb. But the aneathetist said it would take about 5 hours to wear off and it did. I got something to eat and then they moved me to a surgery ward in another part of the hospital which seemed to be miles away. Another one of my fellow prostate patients was bought in and we settled down for a while. I’d had a catheter inserted during the operation, it takes urine away from you via a tube inserted into the penis. You don’t have to try and pee, it just dribbles out of its own accord. My catheter bag was filling quite well with no strain on my part. At midnight a nurse came to take the catheter out and that was painful. We had to pee into a jug from then on and this would be checked to see if we had done enough to be discharged. I did and I was. Then got picked up by Fran and taken home.

The first few days I was a bit sore but salt baths sorted that out. You find your bowels take a bit of time to sort themselves our, and of course I felt quite tired for a few days. But here I am a week after the op, and feel quite good really. It can take 2-3 weeks to get back to normal, and then I’ll get a telephone consultation in April, preceded by me getting a PSA test done. Then PSA tests at 3, 6, and 12 month intervals. If I’m all clear, great; if not a rethink, but the hospital’s record is 93% succesful. Let’s hope I’m in that percentile.

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The Final Stages

It’s the day I go into hospital for the final stage of my prostrate cancer treatment. Today I’ll be having a brachtherapy procedure which is to insert uranium’seeds’ into my prostate, which will kill any remaining cancerous cells. This method has been proven over a number of years, and at the hospital I’m having mine done, has a 93% success rate. It involves a general anaesthetic to be under for 45 minutes and is a well practiced and standard procedure.

This follows my 22 sessions of radiation therapy which was completed on 13th January. That was quite gruelling, travelling to St Luke’s Cancer Centre Guildford every day. I treated it like a job, and as it took up to three hours a day, I suppose it was. The whole effort of getting there, finding a parking place, waiting, and then getting home again was quite exhausting and in the end I got quite used to it. It was lovely having the support of my wife along mist of the days. But now that is over, and I await with not a little trepidation today’s outcome. I’ll be in overnight so we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Wish me luck.


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BBC News: Prostate cancer laser treatment ‘truly transformative’

Prostate cancer laser treatment ‘truly transformative’ –

I’ll be asking about this.

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As so it starts…

Well I’m now officially a cancer patient. The aforementioned radiation therapy started last week and I’m now on course for finishing the first week of 6 sessions.

There are still another 16 to go though, daily except for the odd day off for equipment maintenance, Christmas and New Year etc. There’s quite a club of older men about the same age who gather daily in the L.A. area. L.A. stands for linear accelerator, and it’s basically gamma rays focused on the afflicting part of the body, in my case of course the prostrate gland. The rays only focus on the gland itself, but don’t ask me about the science; Google it. Anyway they (the specialists) reckon 22 daily radiation therapies will be enough followed by brachytherapy. I hope so. So, to the routine: the appointment times are precisely set, 12.36, 17.12 and so on. I have to arrive 40 minutes before the treatment, so I have to leave home at lesdt 30 minutes before that; it makes for a long day whatever time of day it is. On arrival, you empty (bladder) and then 30 minutes before radiation you drink (in my case), 450ml of water within 5 minutes.Apparently this goes straight to the bladder (I can vouch for that) so that by the time you’re lying on the radiation gurney, you are bursting to go. After drinking the water, I get changed into dressing gown and slippers, keeping shirt pants and socks on. Then wait. And wait. And I’m needing a pee. And even more needing a pee. At least the time comes and a radiographer takes me through and I lay on the gurney having shed dressing gown and slippers. The radiogs line me up, manhandle me into place, call meaningless (to me) numbers, and then I’m set. The machinery rotates around my body stopping at 120° intervals and firing for 15 seconds, and does this twice. That’s it. No pain. No burning smell. No internal pain. Nothing. Then off the gurney get dressed and out to the main waiting area, find a changing room and get dressed into street clothes. I’m free to go.

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Been a long time, been a lonely, lonely time…

No,  you’re not seeing things, I’m still here and although I haven’t written anything since August, I’ve been busy with, another holiday, family visits, hospital visits, weekends away etc. You know how it is with us Seenagers. Yes, that’s the new expression for Senior Teenagers, which is I think quite apt.

Anyway after our lovely cruise down the Rhine in July, we went to Cala D’or, Majorca to stay in a friends apartment in a lovely quite town. But, I’ve moved on and am now prepared for the first session of radiation treatment for that naughty little prostate. I’ve been MRI’d, CT’d, had fiducial markers inserted and been tattooed. Yes tattoos, my first ever, admittedly they’re only pin point dots, one at the top of each thigh, and one on the pubic bone, but they’ve been put there to line up the radiation guns so they target the cancerous cells only, to minimise damage to the good ones. The fiducial markers involved the insertion of three gold pellets into the prostate, the size of a grain of rice, but worth £40 each, so I’m worth at least £120! I doubt if they’re recoverable in the crematorium though, bad luck family, you won’t be gold hoarders.The gold pellets are also used in lining up the radiation as well; I don’t know the details but they know what they’re doing – I hope. I will have 22 sessions of radiation followed two weeks later by a process called brachytherapy. This involves the insertion (again) of active uranium into the prostate, I believe strung together with a dissolving thread. The uranium kills off the last remaining ‘bad’ cells and does so for six months afterwards; they are then fully spent. During the first three months I have to stay away from pregnant women (easy), small children can’t sit on my lap (easy again), and eventually my cancer will be cured (I hope!). The radiation treatment continues into the New Year, and preparation for each daily involves an enema. This is explained thus: The bladder had to be full, so water is drunk before each session, but the rectum has to be empty, so the necessity for the enema, to ensure it is. Thus makes the prostate sit up proud of both those vessels, so the radiation can be targeted. Complicated ain’t it? 

But life goes on and I’ve got to relax as much as possible, and started a few days ago with a Madness concert in Bournemouth staying there for a few days. Madness were great as always, and did some of the songs off their latest ‘LP’ as Suggs called it, and all there old favourites. The new stuff is a bit so-so though. I’ve also got tickets to see the great Eric (Clapton) in May which will be a celebration of the end of treatment. Then hopefully life will go on as before, I hope.

If you can, consider giving a donation to my Just Giving page:

Clive Handy’s Just Giving Page

Every penny counts towards researching the end of this disease.

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Please donate, if you can

I’m raising funds for the Graham Fulford Charitable Trust, which concentrates donations  for prostrate cancer, via Just Giving. Please give a donation if you can. UK taxpayers can add their address to gain an extra 25% due to tax relief. All donations gratefully received:

Please click in the link below:

Just Giving Clive Handy

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Post Biopsy Diagnosis

The allotted day has arrived. My appointment with the prostate cancer specialist who performed the template biopsy on me arrived and I went to see him. After the preamble about the procedure, he then confirmed that I had cancerous cells on my prostate, level T2, which is contained within the prostate. T3 mean cells outside the prostate are affected and T4 means cancer elsewhere in for example the lymph nodes. The level of infection is classed between 6 – 10, and mine is 7, so pretty low, thank goodness.

So, to the treatment. This was given as two alternatives: hormone and radiation therapy treatment followed by brachytherapy; or prostatectomy, removal of the prostrate and joining the tubes together. To explain the prostate, it’s basically a switch valve to port either urine or sperm from the appropriate vessel; the bladder or the sperm gland through the urethra and out of the penis. The prostate sits next to the bladder. Often there are no symptoms, but if there are they can be: needing to urinate more often, and needing to go immediately. There are other symptoms. Anyway I elected for the former treatment straight away, without having time to think about it. I’d heard that a prostatectomy can cause incontinence and other side effects, and I didn’t want that.So I will take my chances with the hormone/radiation therapy. This involves receiving a single hormone injection then a hormone tablet once a day for four weeks; then radiation therapy daily for four weeks at a major hospital under an oncologists supervision. Then under a general anaesthetic, the brachytherapy. This is the process that implants tiny ‘seeds’ of uranium into several parts of the prostate where they stay killing off any residual cancerous cells, and providing future protection. The outlook after all this treatment is good, and I should make a good recovery. ‘Should’ of course is a variable  component but I’m hopeful.

Finally I urge ALL men, especially those over 50, to ask, nay, insist in a PSA test. Whilst not a definitive indication of cancerous cells; a high reading can for instance be caused by ejeculation, diet or even too much bike riding!  But it can be an early warning of problems, which can be confirmed with other tests (see my previous blog on this subject). So, whatever your take on it, knowing that you may have a problem and that it is treatable, if detected early enough, is surely a spur to get yourself tested?

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Here comes summer….whoops!

Talk about a season of two halves. 

Just a short 7 days or so ago we were sweltering in temperatures ‘hotter than Cairo’. Now we are looking n danger if putting the heating on – in August!! That shouldn’t be happening. But this is Britain goddamit and we are used to crappy weather aren’t we? Well yes but then we usually go off somewhere where it’s guaranteed to be hot and sunny. There you’re in danger of getting  melanoma and yet we are not getting enough vitamin D according to medical sources; so we should be taking extra of this vitamin. Factor 50 sun lotion has a lot to answer for. Surely it’s about moderation, a bit of sun to top up the Vitamin D, then cover up; it’s not rocket science, well perhaps it is.

There doesn’t seem to have been as much furore about the UK getting its second female Prime Minister, than there was with the first one. But then when Mrs Thatcher became PM in 1979 she set the benchmark for the world; although there had been other countries with women as head politician,  one was as iconic as Mrs T. But Theresa May is a different kettle of polifician, she’s not so strident and not so err, middle class as her predecessor. She seems to be understated, and more creative with her pronouncements. Watch this space. I reckon Brexit will take years to sort out.

So, it was said on the TV news this morning that this country concentrates it’s sport manly in football. I agree with, the mainstream channels,BT, Sky, they all push football as if it’s some holy grail. Now BT are concentrating on providing sports, especially football, across its networks, instead investing in broadband reach  Ofcomm have stated that BTs concentration on vying for football coverage is impacting on its ability to provide a wider reach for internet services, especially in rural areas. Since BT own the ‘last mile’ of all internet connections, all the other provides have to pay rent for this, so they are in a perfect position to do what like whilst enriching their own pockets. Bugger the consumers, we want to get rich. The concentration on sport also affects the main TV channels who probably all think we’re all dribbling,  gawping  at the football or whatever. This guy on TV this morning even said the Olympics is a mystery to football fans and they won’t watch anything except the football in Rio! With BT doing what they want, it seems yet again the minority spoil it for the majority, while lining their pockets yet again, eh MR Green?

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