Friday 21 November 2014

By jove, a team ....

Oh my, my, I do believe we have a team. Yes, another intrepid individual has joined the Rocksolid challenge so that we now have an Oncologist amongst our numbers.

It has to be said that this  "idea" came about at the suggestion of one of the colorectal nurses who cajolled two of her friends to join her in this endeavour. Discussing it at work she let it be known that she would be requesting sponsorhip for her endeavours in aid of this charity. It has now begun to roll and we will keep you updated. As in the book by Harriet Beecher-Stowe "it grew'd like Topsy". Seven members of the team thus far and counting.

We have no doubt that training will begin in earnest at some vague point between now and March, although quite how one trains for this sort of challenge is beyond the wit of man; never mind, it is a mixed gender team so they should be fine.

Thursday 20 November 2014

Four intrepid professionals!!!

Just a quick update to say that we now have four intrepid professionals signed up to undertake the Rocksolid course in March 2015. Two Colorectal Nurses, a Radiologist and a Surgeon. How very exciting and game of them. If you would like to see what this involves please click on the link below.

Some of you may ask why, and I can only think of the words by John F. Kennedy when he said "We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard" and this will certainly test them but... they do it for the group, to raise the profile and for bowel cancer.

(and maybe, just maybe, a little bit because they are either mad or masochistic) but boy, lets hope it is fun!
Anyone wanting to sponsor them in aid of the group can do so by calling 01823 342452.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Preparing you for treatment, both mentally and physically

Did you know that, largely, bowel Cancer is said to be found in the 60-80 age grouping? We know, however, that here in Somerset we have teenagers through to centenarians who undergo treatment for bowel cancer. Somerset is nationally recognised, along with Dorset, as having a larger than average number of people over the age of 60, and predicted to grow. This therefore means that a lot of the people undergoing treatment are over 60. You may ask yourself "what is so important about that?" Well, the answer is actually in the fact that treating bowel Cancer can be very complex particularly when you consider that most people over the age of 60 will be taking some medication for one or another complaint, or in some cases, quite a lot of medication for various complaints. If we focus on surgery alone, which in itself is a highly complex and skilled treatment option, as a surgeon, you would want to make sure that you had a number of salient facts at your fingertips before you considered operating. Not least of these salient facts would be the details about the cancer, but also about the individual and their health. From a patient point of view the "investigatory phase" of a pathway, where the professionals are obtaining all the information they need about you and your cancer, can be exhausting both mentally and physically, not least because once you have been diagnosed as having a cancer, you just want to get rid of it. This phase however is vital; not only will it tell you whether your bowel cancer is amenable to surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, it will also help the professionals gauge whether you are fit enough to withstand this treatment. No professional takes this phase lightly and, indeed, may request the assistance of a Cardiologist, a Respiratory Physician, a Geriatrician and an Anaesthetist to assist you, and them, in deciding what is best for you. In fact, they will include those people deemed necessary to help them, and you, make an informed decision about treatment. Sometimes, and only sometimes, the best option is actually to do nothing bar manage symptoms. This may not be what many of you expect BUT the aim is to give people quality of life for as long as possible; what good is quantity of life if you have no quality at all. Tough decisions are not easy on patients nor professionals alike and these sorts of decisions are not taken lightly. 

The government issued guidelines on timescales for the investigatory and the treatment phases of care for cancer patients which every Trust is governed by. This will also include a discussion of your case at the Multidisciplinary Team Meeting with the aim of getting a consensus of opinion from the multiple professionals present about your individual case. Along your pathway, your case will be discussed a minimum of twice but often many more times than this. Each of you have different sets of requirements to treat your cancer therefore the investigatory phase and the MDT discussion are as vital as the treatment to your care.

Saturday 15 November 2014

Intrepid Fundraisers, one and all.

Well, what an amazing lot of generous people you all are. Generous in time AND funds, that is. We have had people shaking tins and raising hundreds of pounds, we have benefitted hugely from the great teams at EDF Energy Hinkley Point running for us, a Ben Nevis trek, cake sales, Dog Trials, Shooting Days and more.  For 2015 we already have two intrepid people signed up for a Rocksolid Event in March to test their stamina and endurance at the same time as raising money for us through sponsorship. We love to know about what you have done or are planning and happy to promote or applaud your achievements both here on the blog and in the gallery on our website.

If you are planning to take part in something in aid of us, let us know your details, when, where and what you intend to do and we will happily blog in advance of the event to alert people to what you are doing and encourage sponsorship. There is always the possibility that we will send you a T-shirt for the event if you let us know the official details! Then we will post your achievement photos to show people what you have done.

With this in mind, two of our Colorectal Cancer Nurses are the mad individuals who have signed up for the Rocksolid Event in March 2015, along with two other slightly crazy souls. We will keep you posted on how their training is progressing for this very muddy, gruelling event. If you have never heard of Rocksolid, then take a look at the link below and get an idea of what they will be undertaking for the charity - mad or what!! You will see your Colorectal Nurses as perhaps you have never seen them before -now that is truly dedication to the cause!! Let us hope we continue this mild run of autumn/winter weather for their sakes.

If you would like to sponsor them, please ring 01823 342452. We will post photographs of the event once complete, although we are not too sure if the charity logo on the t-shirts will be visible through the mud at the finish!!!

What is this "MDT" you all talk about?

At the meeting on Saturday 18th October, someone asked "What is this MDT that you all talk about". Well, this is such a good question because it effects anyone going through cancer care. MDT stands for Mutlidisciplinary Team and every cancer site has one. The professionals that make up an MDT are dependent on your cancer site, so for example, a colorectal cancer MDT will have the following people as core members of the MDT; 
  • a minimum of two Colorectal Surgeons
  • Medical Oncologist who takes responsibility for Chemotherapy
  • Clinical Oncologist who takes responsibility for radiotherapy for rectal cancers
  • an imaging specialising (Radiologist)
  • Histopathologist specialising in colon and rectum pathology
  • Colorectal Cancer Nurse Specialist/s
  • An MDT co-ordinator
  • Clinical Trials individual
There should be a single named lead clinician with agreed list of responsibilities for the colorectal MDT who should then be a core team member; here in our local District General Hospital this is a joint lead role between a Colorectal Surgeon and Specialist Nurse to provide a more holistic leadership

These people are not randomly selected but set out in the Manual for Cancer Standards (2014). These standards are monitored annually via a process called the National Cancer Peer Review Programme to ensure compliance.

This is just one of the ways in which cancer care is governed today. Over the coming months we will talk about the various other ways in which cancer care is monitored and reviewed, as well as how you as a patient can have input through feedback of your experience.