Red dust, red rash, red mist. These past two months have been characterized by the colour red.

First there was that news that winds from the Sahara desert left a thin layer of red dust on David Cameron’s car. The ghost of Tony Benn. It had to be.

Then it was the red rash, brought as a side effect of the Cetuximab. Apparently it happens 80% of the time. Because it is acting on the cancer tumour it also effects all epidermal growth. Epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFRs) are found in tumours, but they are also found normally in skin cells. Rash tends to be more severe when given in combination with Irinotecan, which is what I get for chemo. That meant a measles-like rash down my chest and back plus a nasty acne-like set of pus-filled spots on my face. Perfect when you have to do customer training in front of a room of strangers 😦

But the good news is that a rash on the outside means it is working on the inside. Skin rash is like a surrogate marker of efficacy.

Then there was a red mist when they told me they’d changed the frequency of the Cetuximab from 100% dose weekly to 200% every two weeks. The idea is to synchronize with chemo but it meant that we were starting at cycle 3 of the chemo so now instead of finishing at the same time, the Cetuximab would carry on for two extra cycles / four weeks. The only justification appeared to be that this is what the Cancer Drugs Fund agency wants. Nothing in it for me, and now I have to wait an extra four weeks before I can get a scan to see if any of this has worked. I complained.

We’re now at the point where six cycles of chemo are complete, and four cycles of the Cetuximab. As I say, two more cycles to go on the latter. Then, after that, the all-important scans. Realistically there is probably only a 30-40% chance that anything will have changed and the tumour is operable by surgery or radio. The alternative will be more of the same – chemo and the drugs.

I’ve had mostly symptom-free chemo cycles, but that is not to say zero symptoms. It’s all quite tedious to be honest. But the fact remains that, despite treatment, my tumours spread and I was told the condition was incurable in January. There isn’t time for self-pity as I struggle to change that situation.