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writer Hugh Cook's blog

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Cancer patient diary - blog lymphoma patient: author Hugh Cook, previously teaching English in Japan, receives cancer treatment in New Zealand - true story personal experience 2005 - non-Hodgkin's lymphoma central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) - between hospital admissions for treatment, Hugh stays with his parents in Devonport, near Auckland, New Zealand. Treatment began in December 2005 and by May 2005 had included a brain biopsy and six chemotherapy sessions, each five or more days long.

2005 June 06 Monday.
And so now it's early June and I'm in a holding pattern, sort of, waiting for radiotherapy to start.

2005 June 05 Sunday.
The news from Japan is that baby Cornucopia can now climb stairs

2005 May 31 Tuesday.
Today's big event was a magnetic resonance imaging scan

2005 May 30 Monday.
Today I felt about as energetic as a plate of cold spaghetti, reluctant to wake up and even more reluctant to get out of bed.

2005 May 28 Saturday.
Today I got two significant letters, one from the Government and one from my wife.

2005 May 27 Friday.
Today I attended a radiation therapy orientation

2005 May 26 Thursday.
Today I went to the radiotherapy department ("radiation therapy" says the signage) to have a mold made of my face.

2005 May 25 Wednesday.
Chemotherapy is over and radiotherapy lies ahead. The initial steps involve

2005 May 23 Monday.
Yesterday I phoned Japan and had a conversation

2005 May 22 Sunday.
I found an article about a writer who got cancer and who, as a consequence, was motivated to push ahead and write his next novel.

2005 May 21 Saturday.
Yesterday I was discharged from hospital at the end of my sixth and final chemotherapy cycle. At this stage my cancer is in remission

2005 May 14 Saturday.
Someone drew my attention to the creative writing site

2005 May 11 Wednesday.
This week I kept an appointment at Auckland Hospital on Monday 9 to be checked out to see if I'm fit enough to be admitted for my sixth and final chemotherapy session next week, on Monday 16.

2005 May 06 Friday.
My fifth cycle of chemotherapy finished successfully today

2005 May 02 Monday.
Back once again to ward 62 in the hematology department at Auckland Hospital.

2005 April 28 Thursday.
Today I continued my struggle to recover my health, valiantly eating my way through a big slab of high quality dark chocolate

2005 April 27 Wednesday.
This morning I fronted up to what we might call the Kingdom of Blood, the hematology department at Auckland Hospital

2005 April 24 Sunday.
This morning, over breakfast, I was sampling Ian McEwan's recent novel "Saturday" (Jonathan Cape, 2005), which my mother has borrowed from the library. The viewpoint protagonist is a brain surgeon

Friday 22 April 2005.
Today I was moved to do a bit of self-promotion: to write a little public relations piece explaining my approach to poetry. The impulse to do this came from brushing up against an artefact from the living literary world while in hospital.

2005 April 22 Friday
Today I got the results of yesterday's blood tests. My bone marrow, it seems, is still in business,

2005 April 21 Thursday.
My fifth cycle of chemotherapy has been cancelled for the second time.

2005 April 18 Monday.
Today I walked down to the local branch of Diagnostic Medlab to get a blood test, the result of which will go to Auckland Hospital, where they want to know if I'm still anemic.

2005 April 16 Saturday.
Got a short story idea today at breakfast.

2005 April 15 Friday.

Content of this April 15 2005 blog entry: a glimpse of Hugh Cook's cancer patient experience, poetry, thinking - chemotherapy and radiotherapy - a patient's personal experience

     • Hugh's chemotherapy protocol (treatment plan)
     • chemotherapy poem
     • Hugh's thoughts on radiotherapy (risk analysis, fears)
     • radiotherapy poem
     • Hugh's chemotherapy aborted temporarily because blood count down

Yesterday morning I was in the shower when Auckland Hospital called to tell me to come in for my fifth cycle of chemotherapy

2005 April 13 Wednesday.

Content of this April 13 blog entry:living with chemotherapy: my (Hugh Cook's) own low-key experience. Context: I am being admitted to hospital once in every two weeks for five days of chemotherapy, and the fifth of a projected six such five-day chemotherapy cycles starts tomorrow, Thursday.

One of the things that I've learnt during my illness is that I cannot accurately gauge my own intellectual function.

2005 April 11 Monday.
This morning I kept a 10:00 appointment at Auckland Hospital to find out how my chemotherapy has been going. At this stage I've been through four cycles of chemotherapy (four of a projected six) involving the chemotherapy agents methotrexate and vincristine, and, additionally, I've had six lumbar punctures involving injecting a third chemotherapy agent, Ara-C, into the spine. So how am I going? Well, it's a good news bad news situation.

2005 April 01 Friday.
I got admitted to Auckland Hospital at 10:00 yesterday Thursday and by 14:00 today Friday I had received three different forms of chemotherapy.

2005 March 28 Monday.
Easter was bright, noisy, sunny and social, garish with the voices of children.

2005 March 25 Friday.
Since my life is now focused on dealing with cancer (and, all going well, recovering from it) it's natural that my latest short story is a cancer story, a piece of fantasy fiction with horror elements. A rather unpleasant piece of work in some ways, but we're not in dandelion territory here.

2005 March 24 Thursday.
Because my eyes are all messed up, when I borrow books from the Devonport Public Library I go for the large print editions which are designed for people who have problems seeing.

2005 March 23 Wednesday.
For my third cycle of chemotherapy (number three of a projected six) I spent five days in Auckland Hospital and was discharged

2005 March 22 Tuesday.
My context (some details below) is that I am seriously ill and low on stamina following the abrupt collapse of my health at the end of December 2004. My response to this has been in part a writerly one, and I have decided that, regardless of how much or how little strength I have, I should try to pull together a number of projects, all of which are not too far from the completion stage, and get them out into the world as print on demand books.

2005 February 7 Monday.Once treatment starts, I'll probably be going into hospital twice a month for four days at a time, lying in bed with a drip in my arm. Once treatment starts, I'll probably be going into hospital twice a month for four days at a time, lying in bed with a drip in my

2005 February 5 Saturday.
Some years ago, back in Japan, I bought a packet of chewing gum, popped a couple of pellets in my mouth, and was surprised to find myself chewing not just gum but paper, each pellet being individually wrapped. Yesterday, here in New Zealand, I bought a packet of chewing gum and was surprised to find

2004 February 4 Friday.
Exiled from Japan by my medical priorities, I find myself living in New Zealand again after having spent most of the last seven years and seven months (4 May 1997 through 13 December 2004) living in Japan.

2005 February 2 Wednesday.
Back in December 2004 I wrote a "new year's resolution" diary entry with a January 2005 dateline. My plan was to upload this entry following my return to Japan on what was supposed to be a short holiday, flying out of Japan on December 13 2004 and arriving back in Japan on December 28 2004. However, I have been delayed in New Zealand by a health problem

2005 January 8 Saturday.
A new year is underway so let's start with some new year's resolutions. My most important resolution is to stay alive, even if that's not always the easiest thing in Japan, land of lightless kamikaze cyclists.

2004 October-December .....

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Website contents copyright © 1973-2006 Hugh Cook


site contents       essays       stories       flash fiction       poems       diary

life with cancer
cancer diary
Hugh Cook


This web page is part of the writer's account of his encounter with cancer (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of the large B-cell type). Note that the text may contain information that is wrong, outdated, incomplete or otherwise misleading. This web page has been written in a time of illness by a cancer patient who, though he feels sharp enough, must admit to sometimes misinterpreting things, forgetting things, or, on occasion, quite simply not hearing things. This web page is designed to communicate the writer's personal experience and is not intended as a source of medical information. Got a medical question? Ask your doctor.