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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 09:20 GMT 10:20 UK
Tumour diary: Waking up from the chemo sleep
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.

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

This is the first time I have written in several weeks.

I have been spending a lot of time asleep.

The reason I think is that the side effects of my chemotherapy have finally kicked in in a big way.

I am living the quiet life - it is good for me
The first cycle of treatment, which ended well over a month ago, was pretty much unnoticeable until the very end.

But this second cycle has been exactly as predicted, with my hyperactivity giving way to serious lethargy ten days after I took the tablets.

Lethargic is the way I have stayed.

'Sliding by'

Before I was waking between 4 and 6 am with my mind racing, often having finished everything I wanted to write before anyone else in my time-zone was awake.

Now, I am waking about 7.30, downing the coffee and sweet porridge which I am often delighted to find by my bedside, then falling asleep again before 9am despite the best efforts of the Today programme (I should turn it up again after 'Thought for the Day').

Actual dressing rarely happens before lunch and sometimes not at all.

The good side of all this has to be that rest must be doing me good. I feel well and everyone else, when they catch me awake, seems to think I look OK.

The downside is that the days are just sliding by, with nothing to distinguish one from the next.

It really is the case that drama and crisis cause time to slow down, while peace, quiet, rest and lack of calamities make the time go by faster.

Today at least I have moved locations, back to Scotland again, albeit Edinburgh instead of the highlands.

I am setting in to a long weekend of relaxation and good company here.

I had half a mind to apologise for this report being so short.

But I am not going to. I am really glad that nothing bar a couple of minor headaches have happened to me since I last wrote and that I am living the quiet life. It is good for me. Drama will return in its own good time.

Send your comments to Ivan on the form below.

Hi Ivan, Glad to hear you are escaping from the stresses and strains of everyday life and it must be the best idea for your health and sanity. My family and I have been trying to do that since my diagnosis in Sept 2000 and now we too are moving - to the Isle of Wight - in the next couple of months. I certainly have a need to fill each precious moment with the good things in my life, my husband and two young sons.
Anon, UK

As with every instalment of your diary, you never cease to amaze me. It is easy for us to read this and feel so many emotions, anger with some, joy with others. But for you, living with this you astound me with your vision and control, even if you may not think you have it all the time. You are inspirational to everyone who reads this and thank you for continuing to take the time to do it when you have so many other things in your life. Kindest regards
Rob Worrall, United Kingdom

It helped me through some dark hours
Julie, UK
Hi Ivan I first came across your diary when my husband-to-be (I've got five weeks of singledom left!) was diagnosed with an ependymoma within his spinal cord last October. Fortunately his surgery was successful and the tumour benign and with the assistance of on-going OT and physio, he is now back at work albeit without feeling in his lower arms and hands.

I showed Paul your diary today for the first time as your experience with the bank's telesales staff were a constant gripe of his whilst he was at home recuperating. His real hate is commuters who would seem to prefer to push people onto the tracks out of their way if it would save them a second on their journey. He too also becomes emotional at things which, prior to his diagnosis he would have found silly. I stared in disbelief as he joined me shedding tears of joy at the end of 'Love Actually' and heaven help us if the underdog wins at Countdown! I've enjoyed reading your diary and think you very brave to share your experiences. It helped me through some dark hours and I thank you for that and send you and your family my best wishes.
Julie, UK

Hope yor family friends and Scotland give you the respite from the 'maddening crowds' that you deserve, thank you for your updates I look forward to them & please just keep looking forward to your future, long may you live & keep writing

I guess like many other people, I sort of 'fell' into your story. I smile and weep with every instalment, for thinking how life can be both cruel and beautiful at the same time. You write so candidly, it almost feels like we are living this with you. But in saying that, I know that we aren't - that your daily reality is probably much different to our periodical one. But from everything you've written, I just wanted to tell you that I think you are a very brave man, for facing up to this harsh truth. Your wife sounds wonderful and supportive - and I hope with all my heart that you and your family will have what it is we are all hoping for.
Em, Canada

Ivan, I have been reading your diary for quite a while now and your courage in coping with what life has dealt you is inspiring. I think it is great that you have been so honest about your feelings at a very difficult time for you and your family and I am sure this has been a great source of comfort for those who are going through the same thing. My thoughts are with you and your family, good luck!
Lois, UK

Ivan You are an example and inspiration to us all. May God bless you and keep you in His care through all that lies ahead. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Paul, UK

I can imagine that because the amount of time you have is so uncertain - you must have such frustration with people wasting each minute you have! I would be the same. A relative of mine has recently been diagnosed with cancer, and the one emotion I personally am feeling is the complete helplessness in the situation - what can I do to help! Keep writing for us - it kicks my trivial problems into perspective every time! Thinking of You, enjoy the rest of your trip.
Abbie, UK

Hi Ivan. I was recently diagnosed with MS (which, of course, is a world away from the hell you're going through). But your column has a very good way of putting things into perspective. Your bravery is awe inspiring. I wish you and your family all the very best.
Ben, UK

Keep positive! What keeps me going (I am recovering from breast cancer) are these lovely words and of course my wonderful family and friends. Yesterday is history Tomorrow is a mystery Today is a gift from G-d And that is why we call it the present No one knows what the next moment is going to bring therefore enjoy every second especially with your wife and darling daughter. It is all so precious.
Sharon, UK

Dear Ivan, Scotland sounds wonderful and the antics of your daughter and her friend a delight. Hope you all have a great time up there. Have been following your diary for some weeks now and never fail to find it inspiring. You really are a proper battler! Good on you and very best wishes.
sheila, UK

Enjoy the quiet life
Anthony, UK
Ivan, I have been following your diary for a few weeks now and look you up to see how you are doing whenever I can. I think that the compassion and joy you approach each day with is simply breath taking. Enjoy the quiet life, you are one person who truly deserves a little bit of peace and quiet.
Anthony, UK

Your notes to us are nuggets. Good to hear you are up and about, albeit slowly. The thought of drama and crisis is spot on. Here to tell you that there is life after all of this, and you'll embrace life like a youngster. Your fellow survivors of cancer wish for the peace and quiet to continue until the monster is vanquished.
David Wendel, America

Hi Ivan, it is great to hear from you again. I have missed reading your diary write ups over the past weeks and I am glad that you have been taking some rest and quality time with your family. Admittedly, I was beginning to worry. Enjoy Edinburgh and the pending sunshine, which I am sure is just around the corner! Look forward to your next entry. All the best to you and your family. Take care of yourself.
Cynthia Brunsde , UK

So pleased to find you're writing again. I have been following your progress for sometime and am so glad you are feeling well. Enjoy a fantastic break in Scotland.
Carol, Chichester,

Thank you for bringing the sunshine with you to Edinburgh!! Enjoy your break here, stay well & all the best.
Jenn Anderson, Edinburgh

I've been checking for your diary entry for a while and was concerned that you'd gone quiet. Good to hear you've been resting and enjoying the quiet life. Good thoughts to you and your family.
June Palk, Paignton, Devon, UK

It sounds cheesy but your column really puts things in perspective for so many people. I find myself feeling guilty for the things that I worry about. It really is true that without your health nothing else matters. Truly inspirational people are few and far between but you are surely one of them.
Richard Bartley, USA(UK)

Hi Ivan, I keep watching the net for your reports. I'm glad to hear that you are resting. With summer approaching, sit in the shade in a beautiful garden and report what you see. I just love those traditional English gardens. Smell, see, and feel the world of nature. How about a little Wordsworth? Dorothy Cohen
Dorothy Cohen, USA

Glad to hear from you again. I too am glad that it is a short diary insert! Take care of yourself.
Siobhan, Ireland

I rarely, if ever, comment on anything I see on the internet, TV or in the papers, but I feel compelled to thank you for your honest and inspirational diary. I have been following your progress for some time and often look you up to see how you and your family are doing. I wish you all every happiness.
Claire, UK

So glad to hear from you in this little corner of the world. Have been following you every step of the way. The little islands of Seychelles are the perfect place for a holiday, to restore you and your family back to full health. God speed!
Rebecca Loustau-Lalanne, Seychelles

There are so many people with you all the way
Jenny Lenton, UK
There are so many people with you all the way! How good it is to hear from you and that you are taking life easy! It will do you good. Who cares what time you get up? Enjoy your family and your weekend of relaxation - the weather might even brighten up for you too! All our best wishes go to you all.
Jenny Lenton, UK

Enjoy the porridge and summer is on its way. Keep on keeping on.
Kevin Quinn, UK

Ivan, hope you have a marvellously relaxing weekend in Edinburgh. I have been waiting for your next instalment but am very pleased you have been resting, and feel will. Keep it up!
Sue Hewitt, uk

So glad to hear from you again, you are such an inspiration. I love the fact that you don't feel the need to apologise and that you are taking things in your stride - certainly inspired me today! Enjoy your break in Edinburgh.
Miriam, UK

Good to have you back, Ivan. I've been wondering how you were getting on and have missed your inspiration which always makes me appreciate my good times instead of concentrating on the very minor problems. Enjoy the quiet life - the quality sounds wonderful! Lack of pressure can only be a good thing. Thinking about you and your family and sending you all very best wishes.
Sue Wright, England

Good for you Ivan! So relieved to hear you are enjoying the quiet life and Edinburgh. Nice to have you back!
Helen Green , UK

Great to see you writing again and it makes me smile when I read you're doing well. I'm so proud of you.
Melissa, UK

Good to see your face back on the web page
Lynne, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Good to see your face back on the web page. I've been searching every day for a couple of weeks now and have been anxious to know how you were - I really feel I know you! Glad you are doing well - have a good time in Edinburgh.
Lynne, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Ivan glad to hear that things seems well...have been following the column for some time now and as always I wish you and your family all the best! Get some sleep in while the weather is terrible hopefully you will be full of beans when Summer, hopefully, kicks in. As always I look forward to your next column and pray for good news!
Gerry McGrath, England

Good luck mate. I've sometimes found it hard to read your diary - I want to avoid confronting my own fears of mortality and serious illness I suppose. I think it is a good thing for you to have done though, brave. Anyway, I hope you regain some energy and find some way to make the time pass with more purpose.
Matt, UK

Hi Ivan, I was so delighted to see that you had written again. It's really good to hear from you. As you may have guessed, I am one of your devoted diary readers. I hope you enjoy your weekend in Scotland (my husband is Scottish and we love it there), relax, chill and sleep as much as you need to. Sleep is one of the best medicines around. Don't apologise for it being quite short, it's fantastic to hear from you all the same. Take care of yourself, I wish you and your family all the happiness and love in the world.
Sarah, UK

Ivan, I am normally a 'quiet' reader of this column, but this time round, I feel the need to manifest myself: I am really glad to hear that you are fine, and that indeed 'no news are good news' - as admittedly I had been starting to worry.

Great to hear from you Ivan. I've missed reading your inspiring thoughts and look forward to your next. All the best to you and your family
Phil Ridley, u.k.

It's brightened up the start of the weekend to know you're feeling well. Great stuff. Have a good weekend.
Matt Whitby, Hampshire, UK

Very pleased to find you here today. I have been looking for your diary entry for several days - rest up and get well Ivan
Jenifer Coleman, UK

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