THIS is a column I hoped I would never have to write. I have been on a new drug trial for 16 months to see if this can reduce the amount of leukaemia in my body and enable me to live a longer, more active life. This means I’ve had 16 months of double chemo with horrific side-effects.

The main driver helping me endure this nightmare has been hope. This week the doctor took that away and took me off the trial.

“I’m afraid it’s not working,’ he said. “The drug is not doing anything for you and your leukaemia count in your white blood cells is around 90 per cent. In all my working life of 19 years at Oxford and before that four at Harvard, I’ve never seen a case like yours. With that amount of leukaemia in your system, you should be in and out of hospital like a yo-yo and hooked up for blood transfusions regularly. But you’re living a pretty normal life out of hospital.

“I think these trial drugs are responsible for that and without them you would be dead. However they are no longer effective and it doesn’t make sense to put you through that treatment anymore.

“So where do I go from here?” was the question I needed answering. My consultant explained that there were no more drugs approved for treatment.

“When it comes to your kind of leukaemia, my cupboard of drugs is bare. You asked ‘where do we go from here?’ Do you want me to tell you or do you want to tell me?”

I thought he had had a rough day so I offered to take the initiative: “The blood cells will not be able to supply sufficient oxygen to my organs and I won’t be able to walk very far if at all without crutches.

“I’ll have trouble breathing if my lungs do not get enough energy. Heart problems and brain problems will flare up because of the lack of oxygen.

“I’ll be bedridden, covered with six-inch angry red and violet leukaemia sores that have already started to take over my legs. Then I’ll just slide off the edge.”

My cancer consultant was laconic: “That’s pretty accurate.”

I was putting together an caricature picture from all the questions the nurses had asked me during the trial. At the time I thought they were ridiculous questions, but now I see this is probably a picture of what is left of my life.

I was also letting my imagination run wild and incorporating parts of the ‘Dracula’ myth. One of our daughters gave my partner, Jane, and me tickets to a very good production of a play by Oxford’s Creation Theatre Company in the London Library where Bram Stoker was a member and did much of his writing. A ticket to Dracula was perhaps not a perfect birthday gift for someone with leukaemia but the key line of the play “The blood is everything” did resonate with me.

I looked at my cancer consultant and asked him to let his imagination run wild and said: “There must be something you can do.”

He replied that this was the end of the line of officially endorsed treatments; but there was one more possible trial to test a drug that had never been used on human beings. Could I bear that?