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Cancer Treatment in France


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Grecian - When I first received my diagnosis, the 'C' word was not mentioned by any of the medical staff.  I knew that it was cancer because the doctor showed me the screen, I had a biopsy there and then and because a nurse was sent to counsel me before I was allowed to go home.

So I told all those close to me that I had cancer but as the days went on, waiting for the procedures to be followed, I started to think that I had got it wrong.  I am unsure whether staff not saying the word 'cancer's is common procedure in the early stages of diagnosis.

I think that the waiting during those first few weeks (I had three or four weeks before things got started) was Terrible with a capital 'T'.  The problem is the lack of control, the lack of knowledge, the wondering if you have long to live etc etc etc.  The key thing is not to stress too much.  Try to do things that you enjoy to take your mind off things.  Make hay while the sun shines...

On the way home from my diagnosis (I had gone alone as my husband was looking after our four children), I decided to take the scenic route and drove slowly through autumn woods.  I called on a special friend.  Little things.

This waiting time can be special.  My husband put on his wedding ring that I had given him on our wedding day but that he had not worn for about twenty years.  I noticed it and smiled.  It showed that he was 'with me'.

Your wife will be with you too.  It is a scary time for her as well.  She might want to telephone CSF independently.

Keep posting and letting us know how you are faring.  We are with you too.

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Thanks for that Kitty, I think you have summed up the situation perfectly there, had a wry smile about your husband putting on his wedding ring, I have put mine back on after 25 years of not wearing it, as you say it makes you both 'one'.

After seeing our doctor this morning I think I have finally made it to base camp, he had the paperwork ready to instigate my ALD which he will post off to CPAM today, has given me 2  bon de transport forms, for both Angers and Thours, so the worry of having to drive myself taken away. He explained to me what will happen after all the scans have been completed, I will have to go back to see the specialist who has been treating me to date. We think he said there will then be a video conference between all the doctors from the places I will have had my scans. Treatment will then be decided upon, my own doctor was adamant that any treatment will be at Angers, that is where I want to go, so I am very relieved to know I will be going to Angers. As mentioned before they have the 2nd best survival rates in the whole of France.

Not sure if my doctor was just putting on a brave face on the whole matter, but he seemed quite shocked to see both of us so low, he agreed that it has obviously come as a shock, but seemed surprised we were not taking this as just another illness. Not clutching at straws but he told me a young lady patient of his had the same operation, and is now fine, we can but hope. He said he would think any treatment would start towards the end of November, and reassured me, as Norman has, that it is slow growing..

Next big step the CT scan next Tuesday, if no other secondary sites show, I think then I will truly be on the road to fighting this ****** thing inside me and look forward to Christmas. On the other hand if anything else is found, I will just have to come to terms with it, and  take things as they come. Quite a bit happier than my post of yesterday.

Once again thank you all for your support.


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I think it's cancers ability to shake us to our core that creates the upset as a loss of control at that point just makes your head spin. We are all going to die sometime but you don't expect the metaphorical rug to be pulled out from under you without so much as your'e ill.

As a bit of time passes you adjust to it and then the stark realisation of just how common this is and if you are going to entertain cancer for a while the bowel is probably the best place to have it.  The piece of pipe in question is long so if a bit is removed it's quite easy for a surgeon to pull a bit more round and join it back together, not something you can't easily do with a brain tumor.

Kitty was so absolutely on the money with her post sent me back 4.5 years to the day I received the news and it's policy to deliver that message immediately and with a straight face in the UK and that's a bit of a bombshell when you are being examined.

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Not been able to check on this post recently, but I just wanted to say that it seems you are getting there, but please, do make as much use of CSF as you need - your fears and worries, and helping you along the way, are EXACTLY what they were set up to do, and they are there to  help you, with whatever you need from calming your fears to help with translations - and knowing that there is someone there just for you will help you so much.

As I said before, those friends I have who have needed their services (and sadly that is quite a few) have all been in complete praise about the help they give ... bon courage, it can only be upwards now!

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[quote user="NormanH"]I think you have touched 'bottom' [:)] and are now on the way up again...

[/quote] Norman. 

We can do without that sort of humour thank you Norman!  [:D]

Hi Grecian

Best of luck with the CT. A very definig time for you. I know how relieved I was when told the cancerous cells are contained within the prostate.

My preferred method of treatment (Brachytherapy) was referred to the specialist regional centre over three and a half weeks ago and if I hadn't been chasing them I wouldn't know anything. In reality I still know nothing so last week I went back to the original hospital and now have an appointment with the surgeon who performs the robotised prostate removal (radical prostatectomy).

The waiting is, as you know, is the worst part so fingers crossed.

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Thank you all for your kind words and support.

Feeling really stressed out at the moment, I want to know exactly where I stand, but at the same time not really wanting to know if anything has spread outside the primary tumour. Must admit I have some pains I am a little concerned about at the moment, just hoping it is wind from the offending tumour. Tough two days to come, CT tomorrow then MRI on Wednesday, worse part to date is I have had to follow a no fibre diet since yesterday for the MRI on Wednesday, and I am bloody starving at the moment.

Another sleepless night I guess, at least the waiting will be over, just the news to contend with after that.

Thanks again for all your support.


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Don't do that to yourself, get to bed, and relax and get some sleep, I am a great believer in sleep.

Whatever you have, you have, what ever it is and you know that they are going to do what they can about it and you will know soon enough.

I learned to be pragmatic about terrible illness in my mid thirties, it is never worth making yourself 'ill' worrying about what you might have, or how bad, what you have can be.

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Sound words Idun.

Grecian, when you have been told what it is then you'll know what you have to worry about.

Easy for me to say and we all know that the unknown can be truly scary.

Good luck and I do hope all goes well for you. re the starvation, look on the bright side, at least with luck you'll be a few pounds lighter.[;-)]

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Well said Idun, No point in worrying it will soon be known. My BIL had a tumur same place more or less, it grew though more than mine but not into the lymph nodes,  mine had grown less but was in 4 of 16 lymph nodes of which there are more at the other end to your problem and we are both still aroiund and planning a party next year.

Grecian I well remember the low fibre diet. I think you can eat your body weight in rice crispies and still be hungry.  Soups without bits, Bovril and fruit juice.  Bit of a shame they are schedued one after another otherwise you could have had at least a meal inbetween.  I can tell you your first meal will taste all the better.

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Well after today's CT scan the news is as good as can be expected at this stage, no secondary spread in the liver or lungs, no other tumours showing further up the colon, the only things that showed up is a small lesion in the groin, the report does say small so I hope it can be dealt with. Must say I am mighty relieved about all this at the moment, as I know it would be doubly difficult to deal with if it had spread any further. Tomorrow is another big day as it will show the extent of the tumour, I know it is big but hoping that if they have to shut up shop so to speak to cut the damn thing out, then so be it. So as it stands the 'only' problems I have are the tumour itself and the lesion

Still a long way to go, but I feel the first part of the battle has been won, and once any treatment starts then I know I am on the way to hopefully beating the situation I find myself in. Taking nothing for granted at the moment as tomorrow could be a set-back, but at least I know what I am up against now. Whereas 2 weeks ago I was all over the place, so many thanks to you all for getting me this far, and a special thank you to Norman. you have been brilliant.

Well Thiere I am off to eat my weight in rice krispies for lunch, yum yum, oh not I am not it is another bowl of soup sans vegetables, what fun.

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I sympathise. If I

never see another bowl of thin broth with vermicelli I will be

heartily glad.

Very pleased at the good news so far. The size

of the tumour is less important than how superficially or deeply it

has got into the tissue. My first smaller operation was decided

because it looked to be not deep, but as it came back a second more

major one was done to take more away.

If they decide you need

the relatively big operation that I had I have lots of juicy

information which I won't spoil your lunch with now, including tips

on dealing with the after effects.

The groin is probably a

lymph gland inflammation.  I had some signs of cancer in the

lymph glands so after the second, bigger operation, I had 6 sessions

of chemotherapy to 'clean up' after the surgery. Such Chemo is less

hard to take than the sort that is the only arm of the Doctor (in

places where they can't operate etc) so it has fewer and less severe

side effects.

Now that you have

been though the tests I can tell you a story that I kept back while

you were a bit nervous, though I find it funny in fact rather than


I have had more than

a dozen examinations where I have to go on the famous diet and then

have a self-administered enema before the procedure begins. Being

portly and handicapped I find it quite difficult to hold the damned

bottle of fluid behind me, insert it and empty it efficiently to the

dregs, so on now I ask the nurse who assists the specialist to

administer it for me.

In my clinic the

only place to do this whoever does it is in the toilet on the other

side of the waiting room to the consulting room.

On one occasion I

asked the nurse and she said 'Certainly unless you would prefer a man

to put it up you'

I saw the funny side

of this and said 'that is a rather indelicate question' , at which

point she I and the specialist all burst out in fits of laughter.

This continued as she followed me across the waiting room brandishing

the aforesaid large enema bottle towards the toilets to the amazed

and rather nervous looks of the other patients waiting their turn,

both of us with tears of laughter rolling down our cheeks.

Such moments help

enormously to lighten the tension and help both the patient and the

staff who have to deal with so many seriously ill people in a day..

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[quote user="NormanH"]

Such moments help

enormously to lighten the tension and help both the patient and the

staff who have to deal with so many seriously ill people in a day..


Ahmen to that!

Good news Grecian, That must be at least 10 tons of your mind.  I am glad for you with that result and you''l have some more fun tomorrow when your testicles get hot, try not to laugh, it blurs the scan [:D]

One of my best friends had his colonoscopy carried out by a pilot who was extremely camp (nothing to do with his professionalism) but he said it still focus's the mind [blink]

Enjoy your soup but and I defer to Norman's knowledge of france can't you now eat a proper meal?  You cant for a CT but could for MRI in the UK except for the 4-5 hours prior to the scan.

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Good news so far Grecian. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

There is one fairly big difference between France and the UK. You have come away with the report on the CT scan. I had to wait a week to get mine. Mrs Benjamin has had MRI scans here and in France and to sit and wait for 10 minutes after the procedure to get the report in France is by far the best way.

Seeing as Norman is intent on making us laugh I will relate what happened when I got my CT scan result.

Jusr before the end of my appointment I said " Well, at least there's been one first today ".

" What's that? " asked the Urologist.

" Well, it's the first time I've been to one of your clinics and managed to keep my clothes on! "

There was a young female student doctor in on the appointment and she absolutely roared with laughter.

Trying to keep a lighter outlook is vitally important in these situations.

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My preferred method of treatment (Brachytherapy) was referred to the

specialist regional centre over three and a half weeks ago and if I

hadn't been chasing them I wouldn't know anything. In reality I still

know nothing so last week I went back to the original hospital and now

have an appointment with the surgeon who performs the robotised prostate

removal (radical prostatectomy).

I was going to have that for my prostate cancer, but we finally decided to go for radiation therapy.

Once the decision had been taken I was advised to go away for the summer and forget about it until La Rentrée, which I duly did.

It seems that the specialists have a pretty good idea of what sort of tumours they are dealing with and respond with appropriate urgency based on their experience and the fact that they have a list of other people who are perhaps in a worse case...

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Thanks again for all your replies.

Théière no I can't have a proper meal yet, it was OK to have a light breakfast for my CT scan today, but the 3 day regime of them starving me is for the MRI tomorrow, and is categorically says on the letter from the hospital not to eat anything for 6 HOURS before the scan, so only having a few poxy biscottes inside me for breakfast, I am going to be really, really hungry when they have finished with me.[:-))]

Just got to hope now that it has not gone too deep, and you were right Norman after reading the report again is says small ganglions either side of the groin.

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More news today that is as good as can be expected as things stand. I was informed today that the tumour has not spread to any other parts around it, not dug into any other important bits at all, in fact the doctor today said that there is no problem with my lymph nodes either. This is only coming from the doctor who examined my MRI scan, but is the guy who deals with this every day, so I am taking some heart from what he told us, and what he has written in the report. I now need to chill and wait until I see the specialist that has been treating me to confirm that is how the situation is. Must say I am really relieved with the news I have received over the last two days.

It has been a very stressful two days, probably the worst of my life, sat there waiting for the doctor to call you in and tell you your fate, not something I would want to repeat too often. The taxi driver we had today was absolutely brilliant, and came in with us and organized everything at the reception for us, helped with our French as he could not speak English. He explained about the local wine and stone used in the local buildings when we were driving up, as he could see I was somewhat stressed out, really nice man. Contrary to the nurse who prepped me for the MRI, totally horrible lady, and the guy who conducted the MRI turned his back on me when I offered to shake his hand on entering the MRI room, can only think neither one of them like the English. The doctor who gave me my results was a lovely man, and tried to tell us in English, although he struggled with some of the words, he came across as a caring person. He told us that the tumour is in an awkward position, and was saying something about a robot, I think Benjamin mentioned something about a robot regarding his operation, will do some research tonight to see what this entails.

So tonight no more poxy white trash for me, going to have potatoes and lots and lots of them, and real meat. Followed tonight by beaucoup de red wine, just to help me sleep of course.[8-|]

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