Tuesday, 22 November 2011


I put the revolver to my head again today, and took 240 tortuous minutes to pull the trigger. It clicked.
We arrived early for two 8am blood tests - one test for white blood cells, and another for beta-XCG (the hormone marker for Choriocarcinoma). Moniek was laughing about how cancer had changed me. The old, wrinkly purple-rinse lady in the lab has magical pain-free needle skills; I was hoping for her instead of one of the young nurses. I got lucky. But I think she was taking the piss, because she used the cartoon dinosaur arm-strap instead of the proper paramedic one. The vials were filled red, triple-checked, and marked ‘urgent’ so we could get the results today. Over coffee, I braced myself for the dreaded B-chemo. I’d been quietly steeling myself since yesterday afternoon.
I’ve been eating like I’ve got two arseholes, but the scales in Dr Karmen’s clinic showed that chemo has eaten 5kg of me. I flicked through a vacuous, sycophantic fashion magazine with (as Bob Dylan sneered in ‘Like a rolling stone’) all the pretty people drinking thinking that they’ve got it made. I was called into her office at 10am.
My white blood cell results had arrived, but not the beta-XCG; it’s a much more complex and time consuming test. My immunity levels had dropped, and so it would be too risky to undergo B-chemo today. My blood had been exceptionally strong until now, so the anti-climax was disappointing and exhausting. Instead, Dr Karmen administered a new concoction to boost my white blood cell count and re-planned chemo for tomorrow. The deadline for ‘Brian’ quotes (see below) has therefore been extended ... ‘ooh, you lucky bastard’.
We  discussed potential scenarios. If this booster medicine fails, she has a stronger alternative on the top shelf. If that fails, I’ll need a bone marrow transplant.
Someone's watching over me ...
bit it ain't no porcelain statue!
She extrapolated my beta-XCG data to predict where my Chorio count should be when the results arrive. It’s calculated from the ‘half-life’ of Choriocarcinoma.  She hoped for 3 half-lifes since my last count of just under 100. Best case scenario: half of 100  is 50 ... half of 50 is 25 ... half of 25 is 12 ... and a half ... but she would be happy with any number less than 20. Another scenario: what happens if my Chorio count is more than 20? This would mean that my cancer has become resistant to PEB chemotherapy. Chorio is infamous for this. The back-up plan is to switch my cocktail, possibly to Lance’s PIV mix, and extend my chemo programme. The beta-XCG results were expected around 2pm.
The stakes were high, and we had 4 hours to kill. The nurses offered to call us with the results when the report arrived. We left Dr Karmen’s office and bought a remedy for my anxiety: an ice cream. Fearing an imminent descent of the angel of death, I went for a large caramel coffee with vanilla cream and Toblerone chunks on top. Moniek was feeling a bit chilly in the air conditioned mall (yes, really) and went for a cafe latte instead. The hands on my watch turned very slowly. I thought about friends I hadn’t managed to contact yet, possible locations for my cremation, and other ‘what if?’ practicalities.
Each time the phone rang, my heart raced. False alarms. Back at Ilse’s apartment, I was too edgy to watch television. The mobile rang and Dr Karmen’s name appeared on the screen. Deep breath. Pleasantries were rushed before the nurse gushed ‘we’re happy to say that your beta-XCG count has dropped to six point seven’ ... ‘can you repeat that?’, I gulped in amazement ... ‘yes, six point seven’ ... ‘thankyou Dr Karmen, thankyou God, thankyou to all my family and friends’. Click.
I feel like screaming, dancing and air-guitaring with joy in star-spangled boots: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBR0T3f7tUw


  1. Namaste Rick

    I am meditating and praying every morning for your recovery. I wish you more power from the universe. My love goes out to you and Moniek.

  2. Iris van den Hoven22 November 2011 at 21:15

    Dear Rick en Moniek, Elly told me the good news an our ago. I'm so happy finally, some good news. Hopefully the good news will continue from now on....... Thinking of and praying for you both.

  3. Have I got a big nose Mum?
    Stop thinking about sex!
    I wasnt!
    You're always on about it. "Will the girls like this? Will the girls like that? Is it too big? Is it to small?"

  4. He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy!

  5. Great news Rick!! 'The Big G' ( or A or Budda?) is obviously paying you back for yesterday's advert on religion mate - you'll be a shoe in for setting up your own 'church' in the States when you've finished kickin Chorio's arse! $$$$$!!
    Can you put a word in with 'Topless Skateboard Nun' for me when you're doing your World Stadium tour?

  6. I'm Brian, and so's my wife22 November 2011 at 22:13

    Topless skateboard nun?

    I think you'll find he's referring to all providers of semi-naked X-games spiritual guidance services.

  7. My God, that really is amazing news mate. Reading your BLOG is becoming a regular past time in our house and one we really look forward to. We're so pleased your fighting back stronger than ever. The stress on you ALL must be terrible but having people who love you and a sense of humour must really help. Stay positive and keep smiling mate.

  8. Let's get the quote right Brian and/or wife.
    Blessed are the Topless Skateboard Nuns!

    What's so special about Topless Skateboard nuns?

    I don't think it refers literally to the providers of semi-naked x-games spiritual guidance services?

    Personally I would point out that the skateboard isn't the big issue with me - any topless nuns will do?

  9. Hi Rick...it's Tracy here..I used to share a flat with Lisa in West Bridgford...Im sorry to hear your news... Stay positive I know this works as I had cancer two years ago and had chemo and radiotherapy and everything that's goes with it...so I understand what an emotional roller coaster everyday brings...I know you are a strong person and can be extremely positive...so I'll be keeping an eye on your blog Rick...Im in remission now and know of a lot of people who are too....So keep up your blog and don't lose that incredible sense of humour... Much Love Tracy xxx

  10. Great News Rick!!!

    "What?" (short, but my most used LB line)

  11. We have followed your wishes and opened a decent bottle of wine. Your 06.30 phone call was very welcome. There could be a few more clicks this week,so hang in there.
    On Skype we could see Monieks smile on 'full beam'. Backed up what you were telling us!
    What is it with Des and women in uniform? He should see our traffic warden!

  12. Absolutely the best possible news I could of had this morning! Maybe next time we can synchronise our chair spins!

    Keep fighting, keep being bold & brave because as a wise man once said.

    "What Jesus fails to appreciate is that it's the meek who are the problem"

  13. Chetan . Ricks Mother and Father really value your meditations.
    As you know it could be a long winding road.
    Namaste to you my friend and all your family.
    Hugh and Kate.

  14. Hi Rick,
    Things have changed a bit since we last communicated. I have laughed and cried reading this blog which is no surprise I suppose from my "Piggy" days. ;o). Keep fighting and should you pass by here in the future, Give me a call and we'll take a blat using our CSS level 4 skills on the flattest landscape i expect you've seen in a while. I had a word with the bloke upstairs for you. Mum sends her love too. x

  15. Hey Rick and Moniek, Thats great news brother. Goods to hear your your doing well mate. Heres my Life of Brian quote for you:
    Cheer up, Brian. You know what they say, some things in life are bad. They can really make you mad. Other things just make you swear and curse. When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble; give a whistle, and this'll help things turn out for the best. And... always look on the bright side of life.

  16. 6.7, hmmm. That means that Andy wins the sweepstake in the office! His prize is to select a quote for the week from the following;
    You Lucky Bastard!
    We've got lumps of it round the back.
    People called Romanus, they go, the house.
    I'm Brian & so's my wife.
    Badger's nipple chips
    What happened to the popular front Reg?

    ...and as an added bonus for achieving such a most excellent test result, some suggestions from The Holy Grail;
    It's only a scratch, a mere flesh wound!
    Ooooh, look at the filth down here.

    We are but 3 score & 10 virgins, all alone.......
    No, pleasssssseeeeee let me face the peril!
    No, it's too perilous

  17. Joe Cocker, Pearl Jam, Eisenhower, Celtic 2-0 up - fabulous.

    Certainly takes your mind off the fact the Leverkusen have just equalised!

    More suggestions for late night viewing please.

    Oh & best wishes for round 2.

  18. Hi Rick, you make me laugh and cry. We are all thinking and praying for you. Guess where I was friday night - Hippo! - now CoCo Tang - slightly different to last time I was there, no familiar faces- all too old now!! - no live music - just cocktails, wine, very high heels and short skirts but brought back great memories. Take Care and keep up the great work, you can do it. xxx

  19. You make me piss my pants mate, and also well up with tears too...cancer certainly doesn't damper your spirit or sense of humour me old mucker! Spent a lot of time in Singapore over the years but usually in bars till the wee hours! I'm doing a victorian house up in Loughborough at the moment and often think of you despite the fact we ain't seen each other for many years. I see Trev and Whippet from time to time though...was remembering those whippet/greyhound dogs things you had in The Park flat (Rich is this why you are whippet??) yesterday...not sure why!!! When you're done with this big "C" I;m gunna manage your TV career...something like an Karl Pilkington meets Charlie Boorman with a twist of Peter Kaye!!! Stay funny mate, and never, ever, ever, give in ok?! Can we post photos to you mate...if so where...???

  20. Milan A.C. 2 - F.C. Barcelona 3
    Even in the most difficult terrain, as I said before, it is possible to win (and also playing well)

    Xavi "Triumph Scrambler" - from Barcelona

  21. Great news on the count! :-)

    A few of quotes for you:

    From WInston Churchill - "if you're going through hell ..... keep going"
    From Nelson Mandella - "It's always impossible until it's done"
    From Rowena and Ian - "Big love and hugs to ya!"

  22. Well that news has just made my week!! We moved house this week and in the chaos I lost my phone and have no Internet connection but each day I was thinking and praying for you. Finally found my phone today and held my breath whilst opening the blog...no need to fret cos you and your guiding spirit are doing the business and kicking chorio's arse!!

    Can't wait to see you back in Blighty, I do hope Ian does the decent thing and opens the guest wing of the manor and we all get to catch up!! I have such fond memories of standing in your mum and dads kitchen chatting to them, would love to see them again too!

    The very best bit of the life of Brian HAS to be "Always look on the bright side of life"! I know you do and I'm a great believer in the power of positive thinking and feel this definitely has some bearing on how things turn out! Keep brave, stay positive, and keep the faith! Waiting patiently for the next good news blog xxx

  23. Nice one Rick. You're obviously going to be fine. I'm not sure what all the fuss is about!!?!
    I look forward to your blog as the news is getting better all the time. We still need to have a chat about your fondness for U2 though....

  24. Wicked news mate...keep bustin'ass as the septics like to say!

    We were in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado this week, very speccy and very reminiscent of the Annapurnas... you were in our thoughts all week...

    Much love
    The Levs

  25. I'm getting withdraw symptoms....I need my blog fix. I do hope everything is OK.