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Last Updated: Monday, 13 December, 2004, 10:45 GMT
Tumour diary: Conquering fear
BBC News science and technology writer Ivan Noble was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in August 2002.

Since then he has been sharing his experiences in an online diary.

I have conquered fear.

For over two years, I have been fighting and surviving cancer in a constant struggle against fear's sleepy, weakening grip.

But now I have defeated it.

The future is very, very uncertain. But I can face it
I would be stupid to tell myself it will not come back for me just like the cancer has, but the victory over terror right now is very sweet.

My cancer is abroad in my brain for the third time now and I have a fight on my hands, there is no doubt about it.

The six-month breathing space my wife and I were planning on relaxing into has evaporated with the brain scan my oncologist laid before me on 30 November.

But as he spoke the words this time, the blood did not drain out of my head and stomach and sicken me with dread.

Instead, my wife and I looked at the scan with him together, instead of me asking her to do it for me.

Looking forward

I watched as he showed us the noxious beast sitting inside my head where only four weeks before there had been clear water and the confirmation of remission.

I discussed what would happen next as an adult not a frightened child. And it felt good.

The future is very, very uncertain. But I can face it.

Already I have taken a five-day course of Temozolomide, a chemo drug I took two years ago.

Now I wait three more weeks as that soaks in and my blood comes back to normal between Christmas and New Year ready for another go.

Then 28 days later - I think I have understood correctly - when two full cycles have been through me and if nothing really, really scary has happened to intervene, we might know better what to do next.

More chemo would be good. Bad would be surgery because the thing just is not responding - bad, but not catastrophic.

Other options would be so unfortunate they do not bear contemplation.

But right now I am not thinking that far ahead.

It is back to the old tactic, the one we know works: hope for the best and prepare for the worst. And keep busy.


I am making progress finally with writing for my children and my wife, a long neglected task I have promised to deal with so many times and failed to deliver upon because it felt so hard to get right.

I am trying to get myself ready for Christmas for the children and with my parents in Leeds in something other than a last-minute rush.

A collection of the first two years of this online diary is due to appear as a book in May 2005 - I have been dealing with that.

And I am enjoying some of the things that comfort me when I think of the time after my death.

Faith that my children and family will endure and prosper is a natural comfort, of course; as is the knowledge that I will have had the opportunity to say goodbye in quite an exceptional way.

But the Romans keep coming back to me in my thoughts, still telling truths with their culture and their bones. And the Saxons of Sutton Hoo with their treasure in the British Museum.

I love life in London and the past beneath it that extends into the future.

I love the things people build that last.

I love the fact that I have survived my tumour long enough to see the "Gherkin" Swiss Re building finished.

It delights me that I am part of a species so far apparently unique in its ability to create culture and preserve memory.

Our marks endure and what ever happens to me, a tiny part will be mine.

Send us your comments using the form at the bottom of the page.

Your comments to Ivan.

Dear Ivan, I have written to you a lot of times but I never get published. All my optimism is with you and your family, I know you still have a long road to go here with us, you only have to be patient and ready to fight back every time the problem comes back. I have been there, with a very relapsing lymphoma, and I know how difficult it is. But in the end, your internal strength prevails. I am still here. And you will too. My heart is with you, keep up the fight, you sure have a huge chance. Keep us posted please. All the best dear friend.
Monica , Argentina

Positivism is the most powerful tool. Good luck and bon courage!
Erin , France

Ivan, I have read your diary from the beginning and like so many feel like I know you. Your story has been so very humbling. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you begin your third fight. I pray you enjoy your 1st Christmas with your new baby! Best wishes.
Tracy Barnes, UK

You are a great model for courage and faith
Thamer Adelbi, Jordan
Everyone of us have a fate, and yours is to fight in this battle, I can tell from the past two years that you have been a strong dedicated fighter. Everyone around you should be proud of you, you won many battles in this war, and nothing should stop you fighting. You are a great model for courage and faith, please carry on and keep yourself a model for all of us.
Thamer Adelbi, Jordan

Dear Ivan, It makes me happy to know that you are so in touch with your cancer. I think being fully aware of a disease can make the experience slightly better, even though I can only imagine how hard it must be sometimes. My father past away from bone cancer a few months ago and it definitely was not easy for him to come to terms with it. I wish you and you family all the luck and strength in the world!
Myla Ashfaq, USA

Dear Ivan, Just a note to say I love your love of things human. Many a time as a manic-depressive it is hard to appreciate anything - and particularly human, but you love life and that is commendable. It's really quite inspirational. Many times I have tried to take mine and I can say I would trade you my life if that were possible. Your awe and inspiration at life and your family makes me appreciate that something good can exist ... and it does. Best of everything to you! Meet your fate with courage and love in your heart and you cannot be defeated by death. You will always be in the hearts of your loved ones. That is eternal life of a sort.
Natashja, Canada

No reason why you can't go further
Jean, UK
Ivan, I feel devastated for you but you have come this far, no reason why you can't go further. My daughter is just on her 2nd round of temozolomide. It is so hard to watch and not be able to do anything, but to make her more comfortable. She never complains, as I am sure that you don't. But you must never give up hope, and you are an inspiration to so many people who read your messages. Please accept our hopes and prayers and you are in our thoughts all the time. Love to you and your family. God bless you all.
Jean, UK

I am sorry that you have had to start your third fight so soon but wish you well during the next little while. Hope you have a magical Christmas with your wife and little ones. Take care.
Stephanie, UK

I'm currently a chemo visitor myself. A dear friend fought her brain tumour for a long time, I think of her frequently, as I always did and you are so right about 'enduring'. She does, you will, I will, we all do in some way and that is pretty wonderful. Good luck.
Monica Langford, UK

I've read your diary from the start, but am ashamed to say I've never commented before now. I just want to say what a truly amazing person you are. i hope you can come through this setback. You are a very special person and your wife and children are so lucky. Will be thinking of you all, as you go through your latest battle.
Louise Wood, Scotland

I feel like I know you, and I'm proud to be able to say that
Paula, UK
You're an incredible person Ivan. I've followed your diary from the start, and the legacy you leave to your children is astonishing. I feel like I know you, and I'm proud to be able to say that. I wish you all the happiness you can take hold of.
Paula, UK

You have touched my heart in a way I never experienced before. I think about life differently now and try to appreciate all the little things that we take for granted everyday. Merry Christmas Ivan, may your new year be the very best.
Helen, UK

So glad that you are feeling better equipped to face whatever the future brings. Your readers will be mentally raising their glasses to you in this festive season, to wish you comfort and cheer - and a happy new year whatever the odds. You wondered whether you'd see your son born, and now, his first Christmas is in prospect. Good luck with the book; I hope you'll be well enough to do some book-signing, and get a chance to meet some of those who have been following your progress via the internet. Cheers!
Jo, UK

Your journey blazes a trail
Bruce Scott, Germany
Your brave journey blazes a trail that will make it easier for those among us who will have to follow you. Well done, and thank you.
Bruce Scott, Germany

Oh Ivan, how humbling your latest diary instalment is to read. I am keeping my fingers crossed that you and your family manage to enjoy your first Christmas together with your son. You and your wife have been through so many highs and lows this year. Keep writing, you have no idea how many people you have reached. I feel more than a tiny part will be yours, whatever happens. Best wishes.
Claire, UK

Yes, a tiny part. We are inconsequential specks of star dust, but we know that, and if we leave behind even a speck of that dust as a thought, an emotion or an insight we will have done our job.
Steve, Hong Kong

This is just so good - it just puts the mundane and the irritating and the difficult into perspective. Your family need to be brave with you - they can also be proud.
Alan Jeffery, England

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