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Last Updated: Friday, 6 February, 2004, 11:00 GMT
Tumour diary: A major setback
By Ivan Noble
BBC News Online science writer

BBC News Online science and technology writer Ivan Noble was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in August 2002 and is currently recovering from brain surgery.

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

I have had a real setback.

I had a brain scan on Monday and it showed that my tumour had regrown a big chunk, despite the operation I had only two and a half months ago to remove it.

It is a big blow.

We hoped that the operation and the drugs that went in with it would have kept me stable for a lot longer.

At the moment I am having trouble coming to terms with it all.
Our thoughts, of course, are on our growing baby.

There are five and a half months to go before the birth of my second child, but what does that mean when my tumour is growing at such a rate?

The operation to remove chunks of the cancer can be repeated, but, as the surgeon made it clear to me, each time is riskier and less effective than the last.

We think that it is worth a try, though, so later this month I will have the operation again, followed by some traditional chemotherapy which worked well for someone else in a similar case.

The hope is that the surgery will buy time and the chemotherapy will bring on a return to remission.


At the moment I am having trouble coming to terms with it all.

The speed of events is bewildering and I had not bargained on dealing with all this right now.

I had learnt to deal with the fear that comes with the uncertainty of my illness but suddenly it is back, intrusively.

There are two weekends and a week before the operation.

I am going to try to relax and take a trip with my wife and my little girl, and get on with the thing that makes sense: having a good time while it lasts.

Send your comments to Ivan using the form below.

Your comments:

Ivan, I have never replied to anything like this before. You are a real inspiration. Thanks for showing my problems as being nothing. I can't wait to read that you have made a full recovery. Good luck (although, as you have shown, the more you fight, the 'luckier' you get).
Sean, London

Reading your diary has been a true comfort to both of us
Sue Bovill, UK
So sorry to hear your news Ivan. My husband also has a grade 4 Glioblastoma and has just finished radiotherapy, Chemo is the next hurdle. Our thoughts are with you and your family with a shared hope that good news has to follow the bad. Reading your diary has been a true comfort to both of us and we hope that you can draw strength from the thousands of people you have inspired to help get you and your family over your next hurdle. Make the most of your holiday and enjoy the company of those closest to you.
Sue Bovill, UK

Dear Ivan, I have never written to anyone I do not know in 49 years. So, this is a first. However, you are an exception. Because, I want you to know that I wish you well with all my heart. Best wishes for your health and happiness!
Gabrielle Plendl, United States/Germany

I read your diary for the first time tonight. You are a special guy. Thank you for sharing what is a very difficult time in your life with us. My love to your wife and little girl. It really makes one take stock of life. I'll join all the well wishers and pray for you to be healed.
Meggie, Ashford, Kent,UK

I hope that in a few years I will be a doctor. Reading your story has reinforced my beliefs in people and in medicine. I pray that one day I may be able to help someone as much as you have helped the thousands who, like me, eagerly await your updates. Good luck.
Clare, UK

Ivan, Your strength and courage has allowed you to get to this far. I firmly believe that your determination will allow you to fight this latest set back. Along with all who have read your diary, I am rooting for you to beat this latest set back. You have so much to live for that I know you will fight and I pray that you will have the success you so patently deserve. Enjoy life and live it to the full.
Eileen, UK

Ivan, you are an inspiration to so many people. Anyone would have self doubt in your situation and you need to concentrate on the need to keep on fighting for those who love you and your need to be there for your unborn baby. Keep your chin up mate and you will make it! Positive thoughts. I'm rooting for you.
John Fletcher, Cayman Islands

Your courage and your challenges, give me the strength to face my own little battles. Have your kids in your heart and keep fighting. I will pray for you.
Pietro, London

Ivan, Good luck and God bless you. Your diary is fresh, honest, uplifting and these qualities will undoubtedly help you fight on. And carpe diem - enjoy the holiday.
Jane Conaghan, UK

You are never far from our thoughts
Roscoe Lovett, Australia
Ivan, I would be very proud to have you as a father, I feel very proud to have you as a mentor, and I hope you are aware I am one of many people you have never met, but should still consider a friend. You are never far from our thoughts. In terms of your approach to these challenges? I say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. You are doing just fine!
Roscoe Lovett, Australia

Ivan, both my wife and I are cancer survivors. My wife is still battling her lung cancer with much zeal and hope. It's working, Hang in there! The tough will conquer! And we will include a prayer for you! Good Health.
Bob DeSantis, USA

Dear Ivan, I have been following your progress for months now. Every week I look for your updates. I feel as though I know you and your family through all the wonderful things you tell us about them. You must enjoy every moment with them. We none of us know what tomorrow brings so just give them an extra hug at the end of the day and an extra kiss each morning. You must continue your amazingly courageous fight with this. Never give up. Never let it get the better of you. Take care of yourself and your lovely family.
Denise White, UK

Keep your loved ones involved as you are doing
Jaq McDiarmid, Scotland
My husband introduced me to your story when my dad was in the middle of his own fight with cancer. He had your determination but I just wish he'd had your openness to discuss his feelings and emotions. Keep your loved ones involved as you are doing and that way they know they're fighting this huge battle with you. My admiration for you has no bounds.
Jaq McDiarmid, Scotland

Hang, in there big guy. It's bleak at the best of times when dealing with an illness such as yours, but you have inspired myself and many family members with your spirit. I know it must be hard putting down the words after the latest set back, but man, there is so much hope in your words and so much that your children will marvel at - your courage, eloquence and charm. I wish you & your family well!
Jonny, Northern Ireland

How to add to the plethora of well wishers who have already said what any one of us reading the diary have felt. An expression of admiration just will not cover it - you are inspirational. Good luck my friend the world is a nicer place with you in it.
Richard Healy, England

Ivan, take comfort in the fact that you have 100's of people around the world sending healing and positive thoughts your way. I never believed in the power of prayer and positive thinking until recently when my father had a 20% chance of even surviving emergency surgery! He is still alive and still kicking - never give up my friend!
Rebekahb, Canada

Dear Ivan, I read your entire diary for the first time today and I was moved to tears by your latest news. I am just so incredibly sad and sorry that you and your family are having to deal with this, and I wish and hope more than ever that things will take a turn for the better for you. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences in this diary. Reading it is very humbling and deeply moving, and really reminds us what life is all about. You have touched and inspired the lives of so many people with your words. I so hope that all our good wishes can give something back to you and that they help you go on and on living your life to the fullest, which no one deserves more than you! Good luck, Ivan!
Joanna, USA

Ivan - please know you are giving inspiration to many people suffering from illnesses. It is wonderful what you have done, and may you live to enjoy the reputation you've earned.
Jason Woods, USA

Dear Ivan. I'm so sorry to hear about the latest setback. My friend has also been battling a brain tumour for the last year, and despite it responding to treatment, we found out yesterday that it has been growing during treatment breaks. The future now seems very unsure. I hope and pray for you both. You both show the greatest strength.
Liz, UK

I feel like I've had bad news from a friend today
Lorraine, UK
Ivan, Like the many others who have followed your diary from the start, I feel like I've had bad news from a friend today. I hope, like last time, that this is just a temporary setback. You have people all over the world thinking about you. If the power of positive thought has anything to do with it then we'll have you back in shape in no time. Stay strong. Sending you a virtual hug.
Lorraine, UK

Read your diary for the first time today, and send you best wishes in your fight against cancer Your strength of character and will to live shine through and I look forward to reading about your recovery.
Patricia Kirkham, Australia

Very sorry to hear about your illness. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Lisa, Hong Kong

Fight this with everything you have
Paul, Tampa, FL. USA
Dear Ivan: I have been reading your diary since you began it. Being in the medical profession for 25 years, I can tell you that such setbacks are not unusual. It's all up to you now. You can either accept your fate, or you can fight it tooth and nail. The fighters usually win. You seem to have the positive outlook necessary for a full and complete recovery. Fight this with everything you have, and you will survive. Best wishes and prayers.
Paul, Tampa, FL. USA

I am so sorry to hear about your setback. You have faced this with courage and dignity and are an inspiration to all of us. Good luck for the next operation. I hope and pray that you will have better news soon.
Carol, USA

With so many people round the world hoping and praying for your recovery you have to get through this and I have every faith that you will!
Neil, London

I am sure that your determination and positive attitude are your main weapons in your fight against this cancer
Dionne Rennie, UK
Ivan, you really are an inspiration to the many people who read your diary. I'm sorry to hear about recent developments, however I see that, as usual, you're making decisions with gusto and planning for the future. I am sure that your determination and positive attitude are your main weapons in your fight against this cancer. As always you make an effort to enjoy what you have today and live for the moment. Something that I'm sure all of us would benefit from doing. I wish you, your wife and your daughter the very best.
Dionne Rennie, UK

Dear Ivan: Today I had a very bad day; I was running away from problems by drowning myself in the net and there I saw your recent "not so very good news". I really felt my troubles where so small and I want to spend all my energy thinking positive about you, your family, the time you are and will be enjoying together. Please believe that you will win!
Rita Vinhas, Portugal

Dear Ivan - talking to you from a little city in New York. I have been reading your diary and hoping for you. I believe that God helps those who are strong in adversity and who love - I admire you greatly and I'm praying for you.
Kay E Burch, USA

I admire your openness which clearly gives other people strength
Chris, England
Ivan, Very sorry to hear about your recent setback. I admire your openness which clearly gives other people strength. Good luck with your operation and enjoy your forthcoming family trip. I will be thinking of you, along with thousands of others!
Chris, England

akulahlwa mbeleko ngakufelwa - this is a famous Zulu saying which is meant to restore hope during difficult times.
Dumisani Phakathi H, South Africa - Soweto

Ivan this is the first time I have logged on to your diary. Your courage and strength have helped me so much. My husband was recently diagnosed with Leukaemia, the news rocked my world and sent me into a major depression. His strength of character is similar to yours, he has refused to accept that this will be a problem to him. He continues to work and plan for the future. I feel ashamed that I cannot be so strong as him. My thoughts are with you and I will continue to read your diary with hope and prayers
Ros Cocker, UK

I have reading your dairy and this news has moved to write to you. I hope the operation is a success. Please God you will survive to next few months and be able see the new baby. I know you great courage and determination great courage and determination. Don't give up hope. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Jenny, Sussex, UK

Ivan, I just logged on to the BBC to pass a few minutes while sitting at my desk looking out at the beautifully sunny day and saw your link. I've followed your diary from the start and I'm so upset to read about your recent setback. I'm an A La Carte Catholic but I'll be lighting a candle and saying a prayer for you and yours tonight. We are all of us living in the gutter but some of us our looking at the stars, that's you, think positive.
Judi, Dublin, Ireland

Dear Ivan, I was so, so sorry to read your diary entry today and hear that the tumour is growing again. It's such a blow for you. I hope you will be able to find some distraction in the trip away with your family and that the next lot of surgery goes well. You have so much to put up with, and I wish you all the best. Focus on your family and how much you all love each other. Good luck.
Esther Murray, UK

I was so saddened by your recent news. I feel the second operation is absolutely the right thing to do and will prove to be the path to recovery. Envelope yourself in your family and have faith. Your courage is an inspiration to all that read your diary.
Soames, UK

Ivan, I have a family member who suffered the same terrible setback as you. The doctors operated, gave her chemo, and only 2 years to live. 15 years later, she has seen her daughter grow into a 16 year old woman, and the tumour has shown no sign of returning. I am sure that with the strength you show, the moral support you have from around the world, and with so much to live for - you will win. I hope the surgery goes exceptionally well, and that you return to full health quickly.
Matt West, Sheppard AFB, TX, USA

I have no doubt that your strength of character combined with your unbelievable courage will pull you through successfully. Good luck. Your wife, daughter and family must be so proud of you.
Jonathan Bennett, England

Many, many people are thinking of you
Hannah, UK
So sorry to hear your bad news Ivan. I started reading your diary about six months ago, and I'm always interested to hear how you are getting on. Just logged on to check world events, and clicked straight onto your diary when I saw the headline. Have strength, many, many people are thinking of you - more than you can ever know.
Hannah, UK

I cannot even begin to imagine how you are feeling right now. But the most important thing is to concentrate on your family and the baby to come. You have gone through such difficult times, I'm sure you'll come through this setback. People who have been reading your diary have drawn enormous strengths from it, helping them deal with their own difficulties. This is a tremendous achievement. I wish you the best of luck with the op, and read you soon!
Pascale, UK

I have today read for the first time your diary entry, and I so sorry to hear about the re-growth of the tumour. I know some people scoff at prayer, but I will remember you in my prayers, as prayer can change things if you believe it can.
Deborah Phillips, England

Dear Ivan,
I am sorry to hear about the latest news but know that the strength of character which so clearly shines through in your writing will give you the courage to go on. I am currently in remission from cancer of the lymph glands and have a 2 and a half year old son. I know where your deepest fears lie and would share with you one line from a wonderful McMillan counsellor. I was worried that I may not be able to be Jacob's mummy in the future and she said - You will always be his mummy - These words comforted me enormously at a time of great uncertainty - I hope them may do the same for you. - Keep strong.
Rachel Garner, Brighton

I know it's very hard for you, but keep fighting
Shan Jones, UK
Dear Ivan,
I am so sorry to hear your news today. I had hoped that things were going well for you but please don't ever give up. I have an aunt who has battled against cancer three times and she is now nearing 85 years of age! She has a strong will and battled a virulent cancer of the mouth when she was my age (38). I know it's very hard for you, but keep fighting. You have your family to live for and I wish you the best of luck.
Shan Jones, UK

Hi Ivan,
I am sorry (with real meaning) to hear of the less positive news (won't call it bad) and wish you continued strength and hope. My wife lives with lung cancer and I can always relate to you. I wish with all my hear that I could cure you and all others but I can't do that so I give you my thoughts of beating the disease instead. Get angry with the cancer not with yourself. Never give up.
Mark Bennett, UK

Dear Ivan,
Do not lose hope. My Mum died with liver cancer (secondary) in October 2003 but 18 months after she had been told she had only 6 months to live. What is more her last 18 months were wonderful and she very well until very near the end. She went to a hospital in Mexico called the Oasis of Hope and received intensive treatment there. Why not give them a ring? They may be able to help. God bless you.
Peter Mousley, England

Ivan - my face dropped when I read the sad news in your latest diary entry but I know that with your bravery and sheer determination, this will be nothing more than a very minor setback and you will fight your way through it. My thoughts will be with you all the way.
Georgina, England

Ivan - I have been following your diary for quite a while - you have been an inspiration. I am so sad to hear the latest news, but your determination to live, courage and dignity, together with the love of your family, will I hope enable you to continue your fight - Very best of luck.
Sue Feltham, UK

Dear Ivan,
I read your diary for the first time today and feel really devastated with your news. I shall truly pray for you as from today and I know you will be alright after the op. God has helped me before and am sure will help again as you have two very precious people to look after. Hope you have a good holiday in the meantime and I will keep looking out for your diary. Many thanks Freda.
Freda Moddie, UK

You are a fighter and a pillar of strength. Your inspiration is immense to us all. You make everyone reading this column so proud to know you in this small way. Your kids have a fantastic dad. Never give up.
John Cummings, England

I can't imagine where you get such inner strength from but don't give up
Moira Langford, England
Ivan, my heart goes out to you and your family - enjoy your trip soak up every minute don't let a moment go unnoticed - enjoy whatever the weather has in store - look at the changes in nature - smell life to it's full - there by the grace of god go we all! I can't imagine where you get such inner strength from but don't give up - fight it all the way - please don't give up.
Moira Langford, England

Ivan, I always look out for your diary and feel very deflated after reading about your latest setback. Of course, our feelings as readers of your diary, pale into insignificance compared to the emotional rollercoaster that you are riding. I wish you and your family nothing but all the luck in the world that your condition can be stabilised.
Nigel, UK

I'll try not to be too trite, Ivan. I guess that, since you have so courageously chosen to share your experiences with the world, you take heart from the encouragement of strangers like myself, touched by your plight but utterly unable to comprehend all the pain and fear you are fighting. Don't give up: you never will, with such a loving family. Miracles do happen - you can be the exception to any rule. Why such devastating things happen to good people is one of the perennial mysteries of life - how and why some people survive and others do not is equally unknowable. You still have every chance.
Robert Nash, England

Ivan, Like many others, I have kept an eye out for news of your progress. This is a very depressing turn of events. Those of us who are just compassionate strangers cannot begin to know how heavily this must be weighing on you when you are fighting so hard for a life that in many ways is just beginning for you. All I can say is that negative emotion can create havoc in our bodies, but positive emotion can help heal. I know that you will try to rise above the fear and be strong and hopeful. I wish you luck and better results with your surgery this time. In the meantime- as I always tell my children - enjoy the gift of this day...
Roan, USA

Ivan, I wish there was something I could write to inspire you as much as you have inspired others. Your news is devastating, but I know you can keep going, thousands of people across the globe are thinking & praying for you. You are an incredible man and you will get through this.
Jess, UK

Ivan, you've had bad news before and then good news has followed. So look forward to that while you take a break - and my best wishes go to you.
Su, Amsterdam, NL

I am sure you will fight this setback with every ounce of you
Amy, UK
Ivan, I have been reading your diary since the beginning and really admire your strength of both body and mind. I am sure you will fight this setback with every ounce of you and I truly hope that everything works out for you. Good luck for the operation and chemo and have a wonderful time with your family on holiday. Best Wishes
Amy, UK

Ivan, Today is the first time I've read your journal and immediately it brought back memories of when a close friend was diagnosed last year with lymphoma. Like you, he has had ups and downs and has remained unbelievably resilient despite facing an uncertain future. The whole process has made me re-evaluate life and what is important and I know the same applies to him. Your time is so precious and it sometimes takes events like this for one to appreciate that. I wish you all the best in the challenges that lay ahead and remember, those days that seem full of shadow, you're not alone. Friends, family and a lot more people are supporting you.
David, Scotland

I am so sorry to read about your news. My thoughts are with you and your family. Keep fighting, you are an inspiration to so many people.
Helen, UK,

Dear Ivan, I don't know what it takes to beat these things but if strength of character has anything to do with it you'll win hands down. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Stay positive. Best wishes.
Catherine, UK

There are very few things which inspire me, my mother, my brother and the battles people choose to fight. I have been reading your diary with fingers crossed since the beginning, because revealing the pain must be so tough. Your battle is inspiring to me because you continue to build a strong family. Please keep hope and keep fighting.
Keir Storrie, Scotland

Ivan - I was very saddened to hear of the need for a second operation so soon - my thoughts are with you and your family for everything to go well - I know many people will be thinking of you - keep positive and have a good break away Graham - UK
Graham, UK

I read your news today and know exactly how you are feeling
Rachael Ventura, Somerset
Dear Ivan, I read your news today and know exactly how you are feeling. My mum for the past 18 months has undergone two lots of brain surgery and now radiotherapy to try and cure an A typical Meningioma. She has already lost sight in one eye and we were told on Monday that there is no cure for her tumour. Like you, we are not going to take this blow lying down, keep strong, keep the faith that you can beat this and keep in mind, how many people are right behind you. Wishing you all the luck in the world.
Rachael Ventura, Somerset

Ivan, you are a source of inspiration to all who read your diary. I feel sure that your courage, determination and love for you family will help you to overcome this latest news. You are in the thoughts and prayers of many.
Jane, UK

Dear Ivan, I have only logged into your diary for the first time today. I am so sorry you have suffered this setback so soon after your last treatment, but you sound positive about how you are dealing with it. I have been affected by cancer, and at the low points remember this prayer "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change Courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference". I will follow your progress with faith and hope.
Ann, UK

Dear Ivan, I am so sorry to hear the news! I think you are very brave and we all will pray for your good health and success in your next treatment. May your positive energy help you to go further.
Yash, UK

You continue to be an inspiration to many
Karen, UK
After such good news in your last diary I am devastated by this. Having read your diary from the beginning it is like receiving news from a good friend. I know you will continue to fight this with every ounce of your body as you have always done. Concentrate on your family and those around you. You continue to be an inspiration to many. There are many people out here praying for you and your family. I'm sure with your positive attitude you can overcome this setback. God bless you.
Karen, UK

I have been reading your diary and rooting for you ever since you so generously and courageously began sharing your experiences with us. I have never had to face what you have had to face but maybe you can take some encouragement from a motto I adopted some time ago (courtesy of Schulz - Snoopy). "Live for today, plan for tomorrow, party tonight" - it is all any of us can do really to make the most of the gift of life.
Ann Smith, UK

Despite the emotions of the moment you have shown such resilience and determination and will do so again I have no doubt. All good wishes for the next few weeks and I hope you have a good holiday.
Anthony, Cyprus

I am sure you will tackle this setback with great courage and tenacity
Clare, London, UK
Dear Ivan, I am sorry to hear your latest setback, a setback indeed I am sure you will tackle with great courage and tenacity. I have heard many encouraging reports from other people with brain tumours. My own uncle was diagnosed years ago and with the help of the medical profession has managed to live with his condition for 15 years. I send you strength and peace. Enjoy your break with the family.
Clare, London, UK

Sorry to hear the further bad news Ivan. Good luck with the operation when it comes. In the meantime I hope you all enjoy your trip wherever it is. Best of luck.
Denis Mooney, Scotland

Ivan, I've been reading your diary for some months now. You have amazed me with your fight and determination this far. Keep going.
Mark, UK

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