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Matilda - Waltzing Round the Med
S/V Matilda’s Gone a’Roving
05/12/2014, Cartagena

I had a bitter-sweet trip to Cartagena this week to pack up our stuff on Matilda and hand her over to our friend, Andy. Unfortunately my Andy isn't allowed to fly at the moment so my brother very kindly came with me to help. We had two lovely days down there in the bright sunshine, 21 C with that blue, blue Mediterranean sky.

Packing up was pretty miserable. We have masses of stuff aboard as we thought we would be on her for 3 years at least if not longer. I had literally packed the kitchen sink! I did as much as I could but my heart wasn't really in it and I left Andy B with the problem of where to put the rest. Overboard on the way to the Caribbean I expect!

I know he'll look after Matilda incredibly well and wish him a fantastic trip back to Australia but, after waving goodbye, I couldn't help shedding a tear as he left us at the airport to go off on what should have been Our Adventure.

Meanwhile we've got a bit of a trip of our own. Not so adventurous perhaps but certainly different, packed with highs and lows, good days and bad days but, hopefully, with the same amazing end! Home and safe.

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06/12/2014 | Janelle
All the best for you all no matter what is ahead.
From the Whitmore kids.
One Down, Five to Go
26/11/2014, Gosport, HANTS

I've been trying to think of a catchy title for these future blogs but nothing seems to be appropriate somehow! Last month Andy started his treatment for myeloma. The photo shows his month's supply of drugs he now takes. He has to have high doses of Dexamethasone, a steroid, weekly chemo drugs called Cyclophosphamide and, bizarrely, Thalidomide which is an immunomodulatory drug. Side effects include mood swings, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhoea, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, stomach pain, indigestion, fluid retention, increased blood sugar, increased appetite, loss of appetite, muscle weakness etc, etc. To counter-act some of the above, he has Ondansatron, Metachlopramide, Allopurinol, Amitriptyline, Paracetamol, Movicol, Immodium, Tramadol. He will also start having monthly infusions of Bisphosphonate to strengthen his bones which the myeloma attacks. When he's done five or six 28-day cycles of this, he will be able to have an autologous stem cell transplant (where they harvest his own stem cells from the bone marrow) and after that, he should be in remission!! Sounds pretty simple doesn't it?!

He's just finished his first cycle. It wasn't too bad. A few days of extreme fatigue, a couple of days of feeling really down (but as Facebook is full of everyone we know either heading down to Cap Verdes in their yachts or drinking cold beer in a very hot Australia, hardly surprising!) and a few nights of no sleep. Today we went to find out the results of his first blood test and can report all is good! Treatment appears to be working, all blood levels are heading to where they should be and he is on course for his stem cell transplant in April or May. If this had sound, you'd hear us going YESSSSSSSS!!!!!!

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Matilda's New Dance Partner
21/11/2014, Gosport, Hants

While we have been back in Blighty acclimatising to the British weather and facing our latest 'adventure', Matilda has been languishing in Cartagena where our fantastic friends, Wayne and Cha, sailed her after we left. They not only did that but they cleaned her up, serviced the engines, put everything away and generally settled her down for the winter. We'll never be able to repay them for that.

We know now that we won't be able to sail her back to Australia. Even when Andy is in remission from this horrible disease, we won't be able to be away from 'civilisation' just in case it comes back while we're in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! We had pretty much decided that we would have to sell her in Spain and probably lose quite a bit of money by doing so.

Then we heard from our friend Andy Berg who we met in '09 when he was sailing his boat Calysta from Germany to Australia. He had just arrived back in Australia again on his next boat, Calypso, having spent two years getting there, teaching people to dive and sail on the way. He is waiting for his business visa so that he can work in Oz but it hasn't come through yet. I suddenly had one of those middle-of-the-night ideas. 'I wonder what he's planning to do over the next year? Perhaps he'd like to take Matilda home for us??' Well, the upshot is he would like to take Matilda home for us and is flying back to Berlin next week to see family before going down to pick her up and set sail for Gibraltar. We cannot begin to describe how thrilled we are about this and what a huge weight this is off our shoulders. Andy is incredibly experienced and will look after her like she is his own.

We now have an aim to get us through the dark days. We will meet him next October as he sails into Bundaberg. And the crew of Parnormitis and Annecam. And all those other boats that we didn't get to meet on that amazing trip back. And we'll have the hugest party. You'll all be welcome to join us!

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22/11/2014 | Lynn
Would love to join the party! Good on you Andy (both of you). xx
22/11/2014 | Bill and Linda Anderson
We will be there! I'm not one to miss a party, especially not this one! Love to you both xxxxx
23/11/2014 | Jeni Sandercott
don't think I will make the party, but will be there in spirit xxxx jen
Myeloma Madness
09/11/2014, Gosport, Hants

I wrote this first via another blog site which, not only didn't appear on my S/V Matilda page, but didn't appear on my FB page and, as some people have told me that they haven't seen it and wanted to know how Andy was getting on, I've decided to return to Sailblogs. Don't read on if you've already seen it.....

When you start looking into this myeloma business, you find there is a vast quantity of stuff out there to read - newsletters, web sites, forums. There's one site that just has people's blogs on which I thought would be really useful. And it is. It's also depressing and worrying and anxiety-making! You want to read a blog where the treatment was good, the symptoms were few and far between and the outcome was fantastic! And there are some in there but you have to read a lot that don't fulfil those criteria to find the ones that do. They should put a warning on them before you start to read or have them in different colours, red, amber and green perhaps, then you could decide which ones to go for.

It's the same with groups. Our lovely Clinical Nurse Specialist, Donna, organised a coffee morning where Myeloma sufferers and their families could meet and chat and exchange information. A good idea of course but I thought it wasn't probably for us. However, as I'm a nurse too, I wanted to support her so we agreed to go along. Probably about 40 people turned up which was great for Donna. We met a chap who was just off on a cruise in the Med which cheered us up immensely, not because we want to go on a cruise but, as Andy isn't allowed to fly for at least the next 6 months, it was good to think that he would be able to in the future. However, looking around you could see a few people that weren't doing too well and you could hear the same questions being asked all around the room. How long have you had it? What treatment regime are you on? What symptoms have you had? We left after a short while and agreed that we won't go to any of those events again. We know what might happen and we'll face that if and when it does. In the meantime, we're going to get on with this treatment and plan for the future. Like my friend Mel said "All the well ones were out enjoying themselves windsurfing or hot air ballooning'.

Probably don't want to do either of those but we are cruisers, albeit on land at the moment, so we'll see you again somewhere beautiful,

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Change of Plan!
19/10/2014, Fareham, Hants

I have not written on here because I'm not sure anyone would want to read a sailing blog where no sailing is done, no landfalls reached and there are no sunsets over the bay! However, lots of people have been asking me how Andy is so I'll do the latest medical report!

We have been amazed at the speed that things have been happening since we got back to the UK. We saw my brother's GP the day after we got back and he referred us to a renal specialist for the ? tumour on his kidney and a haematologist for his abnormal blood results and the pathological fracture of his spinal vertebrae. Within a week he had had a wrath of more complicated blood tests, a skeletal survey, bone marrow biopsy, CT and this week an MRI of his spine. The good news is that the kidney tumour is only a cyst with no sign of malignancy. The bad news is he definitely has multiple myeloma.

Treatment for this is pretty harsh. Starting in 10 days, he has to have monthly cycles of chemotherapy, steroids and an infusion to strengthen his bones. Lots of side effects as you can imagine but they'll give him tablets for that as well. There will be no hair loss as the doses are not huge which is a small bonus. After 4-6 months of this, he will have a bone marrow transplant and three months after that may/ should/will go into remission. We can then make future plans.

We're in a bit of a weird place as you can imagine. One day we are completely focussed on sailing the next bit of our trip home to Australia, checking weather sites, planning rendez-vous with other boats in different places, reading up on the Canaries and Cap Verdes, writing lists of what provisioning we'll need for 5 people for 20 days when we do the Atlantic crossing,where to go in the Caribbean. A few days later and we're in Portsmouth looking for a flat to rent and learning as much as we can about this disease and what to expect.

We're pretty positive and those of you who know Andy will know he'll crack this like he does everything. Thanks for all your messages and positive vibes!! Keep 'em coming plus any jokes, stupid videos and general ranting that you know he'll enjoy! And be sure he'll be doing the same!

The photo above,by the way, is sunset over the Solent! Not taken from our boat and might not be the Med but pretty fabulous just the same!

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19/10/2014 | Campbell Hair
Good news about your kidney mate and I'm sure you will come out the other end of this and take up where you left off. There will always be a spare cabin on Annecam for a bit of rehab for you both.
Good blog Jane and it's not always about the sailing.
Cheers to you both,
Cam & Annie "H"
20/10/2014 | Kirsty
J&A - thanks for taking the time to let us know how things are going - we are all thinking of you. We have another friend in the USA with the same thing and she is just about to have her bone marrow transplant. Any questions you have from someone going through it she is happy to answer. Keep enjoying those sunsets no matter where you are. Love K&J xx
24/10/2014 | Gary Whitmore
Just coming into Lanzarote and have service so have read your blog. Our plan was to meet you guys here and partake a couple of buckets of beer, but Andy, as you won't be here it leaves me with a huge amount to consume by myself, so you have a lot to answer for. Thinking of you both and perhaps this time next year you can join us at Turkey Beach for extended R&R. Would love to have you. Just say the word!! Love from us both.

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