There’s no other way to put it.

I go into hospital for surgery tomorrow morning.

They will remove and seal up my rectum and then add a new outlet, a stoma, on my front and I’ll use a bag from now on.

The Colostomy bag and Stoma don’t scare me, it’s the surgery. Keyhole so it shouldn’t be too bad but…

I guess I’m lucky but my only experience of surgery was 50 years ago and for damage to my wrist, I got all kinds of promises but it’s never worked properly since. That has to have coloured my views of surgery.

Anyway, I’m currently scared and trying not to think about it, I’ll wake up with a multitude of connections and not be able to move for 5 days. Then it looks like it’s going to take longer than my previous estimates to recover, I may be back to “normal” by the end of March.

So I’ll miss HPA but should be at NAB, the camera tests I intended for February may be delayed until May, no big deal.


Trying to get the riff from Careful with that Axe Eugene..

Had THE MEETING with my Oncologist yesterday, the Chemo/Radiotherapy has caused the tumours to shrink and they’ll give me another MRI in 4 weeks because they think they’ll continue shrinking.

Sounds like good news, well no not really, they have shrunk enough that it makes the surgeons job easier but not enough not to resort to surgery.

Now the thing with this is good and bad, isn’t everything connected with this? The good news is that the tumours are so low down that they’re easy to remove separately from anything else. Remove them, end of problem. The bad news is that they’re so low down that removing them and then stitching me up means I get closed completely. No arse any more.

This means a Stoma, WTF! I have an outlet fitted at the front and wear a removable bag that I change daily. The good news here is that because it’s so low down it’s a less complicated Stoma than it is in most cases, in fact when I’m travelling I can just flush it and then seal up for a couple of days without using a bag. It’s still a ‘king nightmare that I’ve been facing up to the possibility of for the last few months and now have the reality slap me in the face.

I’ve said that we should bite the bullet and go ahead with it ASAP, the earliest it can be is December the 23rd so I have the holidays in hospital 🙂

Was there another choice? well I did ask what my prospects were if I didn’t go this route and was told one to two years and a truly horrible end. I did say that I wouldn’t wait for the end but would terminate. In that case I have less than a year. If I go for the operation I have, well, how long did I expect to live before I knew about this? that’s how long I will have. It’s a no brainer, if the hassle of the Stoma is too much I still have the final option open to me.

So over the next few weeks I have the joy of another Colonoscopy, an MRI, and an operation. The good news is that if I don’t get an infection, and 45% of people having this operation do, I’ll be functioning pretty normally by mid January and totally back to normal, excluding the daily bag change, by the end of February.

I can apparently increase my chances of avoiding an infection by not putting pressure on the area whilst it mends. Stitches in what is essentially fat have a job holding and not popping out. I don’t have a problem not sitting for a few weeks, apparently most people do, I’ll just lie down with a tablet and a Kindle and live my life normally but horizontally. I don’t need to sit to eat, most people apparently have an issue with this, but after 40 years of eating on the run a few weeks of eating standing up won’t be a hardship.

We’ve scheduled everything so that I can manage to shoot a commercial at the end of this month going into early December 🙂

Gotta get my priorities right!

CML’s birthday

It was 20 years ago today that I started CML with 60 members, people I’d been talking to about cinematography on Compuserve, AOL and Usenet and who I made members of CML because I thought that there should be a simple single system dedicated to professional cinematographers.

It was never set up to make money, purely to exchange information between fellow professionals.

We now have 11,976 members spread over 20 generally available lists. There are a number of other lists that have closed memberships as they are for manufacturers beta testers and various educational courses.

When we started there was a serious lack of information about new digital technologies and cameras and we tried to help share what knowledge there was. Now there is a plethora of place to get information about equipment.

Our system is still aimed at working cinematographers and that is why we are primarily still email based, around 80% of CML traffic is via email.

I have tried, with the help of the listmums to keep CML focused on clear professional facts rather than the usual internet miasma of gossip and rumour and ill-informed comment.

This is why we have always been a closed system, it has been necessary to join or register to be able to use the discussion facilities of CML although the web pages of edited discussions have always been openly available.

To celebrate our 20th birthday we are opening up the discussion lists to anyone to read, read, not write.

Anyone wanting to post will have to join but the collected knowledge will now be openly available to all.

This does not mean that members details will be available, they won’t. Lyris conceals these.

I hope we will get more people contributing to the shared knowledge and that we keep growing.

Thank you all for making CML what it is.

Now stand and allow to continue cooking

OK, the microwave went ping and I was put to one side to continue cooking.

My Microwave Chef, more commonly known as my Radiologist, said that I should be at about my peak pain level yesterday. Just over 2 weeks after the cooker went ping!

I’m now at 6* the dosage of Fentanyl that I was initially and I reckon I will probably need to be tweaked up to 8* after the weekend. Of course the soluble under my tongue tablets for pain breakthrough episodes have been doubled in strength as well.

In another 2 weeks I take a trip to Gouda to use the MRI there because it is apparently a higher resolution than any of the other ones around here. I then meet with my Surgeon and Radiologist and we talk about what happens next.

I’m back working, my first flight since this started is tomorrow, going to Birmingham City University to put fear and dread into the minds of the students. Or to make them focus on all the aspects of getting a job that they will naturally ignore 🙂

I have to use this post to thank all the people who have contacted me with messages of support, you are all amazing.

I’d also like to thank the medical staff who I’ve dealt with who have been totally amazing and supportive. They have gone above and beyond their jobs in all kinds of ways.

Finally as I said to my radiologist yesterday…If I’m taking so many drugs why aren’t I having fun?


Week 4 of 5

Well, it could be worse 🙂

Apparently in the UK, US & OZ Radiotherapy is 5 days per week for 5 weeks and Chemo is by IV in weeks 1 and 4.

Here, the Radiotherapy is the same but Chemo is by tablet 7 days per week for all 5 weeks.

This may be why my side effects aren’t as bad as I’ve read, and believe me I’ve read a lot of info posted on the web about this!

I do get tired very easily, very very tired but I’m not getting nauseous and apparently I should be as sick as a dog. Now this may be because of the different dosing approach but I don’t think so. I have a pile of anti-nausea drugs that I’ve been given but not used. I really didn’t want to use them as the side effects are just horrible!

I’m using Sea Bands instead, pressure bands for your wrists that are designed to fight sea sickness. I’ve used them for years to prevent sea sickness and they have been brilliant, even making me feel fine when on an ocean going tug in the English Channel trying to film Beachy Head for the opening of the Disney channel in Europe where everyone else on the shoot was projectile vomiting and the whole thing had to be called of and  shot another day.

So, if they work for that…I hoped that they would work for the Chemo induced nausea and they do!!

Thats the good news, the bad news, and you can turn away now if you’re squeamish, is what the Radiation does to your arse. I was warned in detail and the warnings have come true. Your cheeks get very inflamed, sore and can ulcerate. This is because the radiation bounces around between them. This is so far the worst aspect of it all.

The pain can be controlled using Fentanyl patches, I’m now on 3* what I was when I started and I expect to go up another notch tomorrow, and also with sub-lingual Fentanyl that is there for peaks in pain and dissolves under your tongue.

I also have Lydocain cream for the glowing cheeks!

The pain is still building and apparently will continue to do so for 2 weeks after I finish treatment.

The worst side effect is lethargy and vagueness, on that note I’ll pop off and call KLM to alter the date of the return flight I booked yesterday, not fully paying attention and it’s for the wrong date

Stupid thief

We’ve been having a few problems with noise and vandalism so we installed a video entry camera and it was stolen.

We then had all our flowers and decorations in the common entry area vandalised so we installed 2 camera systems.

One on the door to CML HQ and one on out apartment entrance.

They were both stolen, by an idiot who is clearly visible in the recording below. If you recognise him please let us know…

When the men on the chessboard

To make sure that every time I go through the Radiotherapy device I am correctly aligned and that the right bits get zapped I am now tattooed with tracking marks!

It feels like I’m now part of a VFX shoot.

Simple dots to make sure that I am correctly aligned to each morning, lasers beams making sure I’m at the right angle. Wiggle this way, wiggle that way, hold your breath

Of course that’s only half of it, the other half is the Chemo or drugs, more drugs than I’ve taken since the late 60’s!!


This is my stash for the rest of the month.

33 boxes of various varieties, which leads me to the title of the post. One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small…

No dreadful side effects yet but there’s plenty of time, apparently the pain will be at its worst 2 weeks after I finish Radiotherapy. Pass another patch!

Remember what the dormouse said

Nothing is ever as simple as you think it’s going to be

So, I turned up yesterday expecting to start Chemo but no, I’m starting pre-chemo.

They are testing the hell out of me and then building me up so that I’m in the best condition I can be before they start to F it all up!

Today I have a pre-radiation therapy meeting, that definitely does start next Monday and by then I’ll have had the transfusions that they think I’ll need and also any other chemical tweaks they think are needed.

The list of side effects is enormous, they should try saying what won’t happen, it would be simpler.

I’m also being switched to stronger pain killers, Fentanyl patches and also tablets. They have a refreshing approach to pain killers here, use them! they’ll worry about possible addiction problems later. Actually they said if they gradually increase and then decrease them it’s not an issue.

That’s a big difference form the UK approach of take a Paracetamol because anything stronger will turn you into a junky.

I’m all in favour of pain killers because what the online help & info sites don’t tell you is how much it will hurt.

Is it possible to use autofocus for an entire movie?

In my pre-occupation with other things in my life at the moment I’ve forgotten to publish the results here of trying to shoot an entire movie with autofocus.

Another movie with Dominic Brunt and he agreed to me using the Canon C300-2 with stills lenses for the entire film.

Although I had an AC he spent a lot of his time watching me try to focus pull using a Samsung Tablet!

I wanted to do it myself just to see how difficult it was and what the najor pitfalls were.

It was a hell of a learning experience but I’d do it again, maybe with a few small changes like taking my own router just for the camera WiFi, using frequency scanners more often and killing anyone who decided to use any form of wireless transmission without clearing it with the camera crew first!

The main lesson is that the newer a lens is the better it copes, well that’s a shock!

Seriously, in a lot of situations the lens just couldn’t focus fast enough, actors running at camera in very low light was a serious issue.

Anyway, lots more here…


Some days are Diamonds, some days are stone

The words of Tom Petty strike a chord with me again.

“Rhino Skin” and “I won’t back down” have been my soundtrack.

I think I’m going to need this…

“Well, I won’t back down
No, I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down”

I got the results of a few weeks of tests yesterday, Ultrasound, X-rays, colonoscopy, MRI & CT scan.

The simple thing is that I have rectal cancer and start Chemo on Monday and Radiotherapy on Tuesday. That will be followed by a colostomy.

I’m not going to let it bring me down, I’m going to function as normally as I can.

I won’t be able to go to IBC on the weekdays because of my daily treatments but I will be able to go at the weekend and intend to try.

I’m also hoping that CineFest will agree to me doing my ACES presentation via a narrated PowerPoint and a video intro followed hopefully by a Q&A via Skype.

I’m going to blog my progress and hopefully this will help someone else.

If you’re worried about anything, get it checked and face up to it.