Mama Thai

There’s a place near where I used to work in east London called Mama Thai. It’s a kind of canteen – eat in or takeaway – that come lunch time is always packed, and often sports a queue of hungry diners lined up out the door and around the corner.

The food they serve there is just incredible: piles of spiced meat or vegetarian curry, stacked high on perfect rice at an unbelievable price. It’s the kind of place Time Out would list as a hidden gem of east London, but please no-one tell them: the queue is already far too long.

The décor is shabby, the layout crowded and practical. Yet despite his disheveled appearance, you get the impression the bloke who runs the place may just have a Jaguar or top notch Audi tucked away at home, so thoroughly and profitably does this place serve the media and banking crowd that populate this little pocket of the capital.

Mama Thai is the kind of place I used to go to eat by myself as a Friday treat, a celebration of sorts for another week at the stressful coal face of charity communications work.

And it was to Mama Thai that I retreated this lunchtime to celebrate after my neurologist told us clearly and without a shadow of a doubt that my tumour shows no sign of growth.

He’s going to try me on some new drugs, in our seemingly never ending quest to control my seizures, but other than that there’s nothing new going on in my head.

In other words, it is the best possible news and there’s plenty of life in this cyclist yet.

My neurologist seemed impressed by my colourful seizure-vs-drugs chart, and we really did spend the short appointment looking at the green and yellow ups-and-downs of the drug doses, the red and blue bars indicating seizures.

He’s raising my dose of Levetiracetam (yet again), and wants to add on Lemotrigine. It’ll amount to a combination of anti-epilepsy drugs which are frequently prescribed together to control persistent seizures in brain tumour patients.

Since new year, my seizures have come much more regularly and my doctor did say this was due to tumour change. But with no significant growth to report, he assured me it would probably be down to a “change in the tumour’s metabolic environment”. Whatever that means, it’s certainly better than tumour growth.

In fact, I left my results meeting today more hopeful than when I went in.

Armed with a prescription for a new drug, it offers the chance that I might again be able to take my epilepsy in hand, perhaps even make the seizures go away; and then to be able to consistently, confidently, even competitively, ride my bike again.

There’s a long way to go, of course. But with change comes optimism.

I can dare to believe – despite the ultimately negative long term implications of my tumour – that life in the near future could be better, not worse, than it has been lately.

In fact, I’ve come away from today’s meeting slightly embarrassed again by the level of worry I had before I went in. If only I could bottle that feeling, these results appointments might not be so stressful.

So, yet again, it’s: go away, take this prescription and I’ll see you in six months.

I’ll take that, thanks very much.

With any luck, following my next MRI and results day in six month’s time, Time Out still won’t have found out about Mama Thai.

Come September, I’m planning to be enjoying another celebratory lunch of Bombay potatoes and curried chickpeas with a side of sliced fresh chillies, accompanied by a can of sweet ginger beer.

Like my brain tumour, here’s to hoping Mama Thai doesn’t change one little bit in the meantime.


  1. That’s such a relief! I was sitting with fingers and toes crossed, so this is such great news. Will be raising a glass of bubbly this evening! Lots of love, Judith

  2. And thank you ALL for so many comments, messages and texts of support. Each and every one makes an incredible difference to me and my family. It’s like my own private support group, for which we’re very grateful. X

  3. Gideon, perhaps we could have a ride up to Mama Thai and use it as a cafe stop?
    Glad you have no growth, so onwards and upwards, hope to see you on the tour de tendring on 19th may.
    New drugs should have kicked in by then, and you will be up there on the Bromley road sprints again

  4. Spreadsheet geek. Brilliant. had a good feeling you’d be fine. Loads of vietnamese people round my way, including my neighbours. I’ve had Banh Mi every weekend for months now. Went to a Vietnamese supermarket to buy ingredients for summer rolls and got full instructions from the lovely shop keeper. That plate looks amazing

  5. Brilliant news! Every time I eat Thai food (my favorite take away) I will remember with a smile the sense of relief your Mama Thai story brought to me and probably all the other friends and readers. Go now and get out there and pedal Gideon… Gosh I wish I could do a ride with you! I’m still smiling at your news! 🙂

  6. We have been anxiously waiting for your results and are delighted with the news.
    Hope that the seizures will soon be under control with the new pill regime.

    Will get the chickpeas ready. You can have chillies on the side…….
    Love to you all.

  7. oh I am so so pleased that there has been some good positive news, so great to hear. Also seeing that dish makes me miss your ‘vegan slop’ 🙂 love you all xx

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