14th April 2020
We should have been waking up in Prague, hung over after being out on Samros’ birthday on 13th, with a great workmate from a few years ago, when we were in Cambodia. Anna now lives back in Prague. We had this booked since last October, but of course that was all kaiboshed by the coronavirus.
Just as well – in a way…
So it’s a sunny morning in Gloucester instead, the day after Easter Monday and just 7 days since I had the Biopsy.
My phone rings around 8.30am. It’s the hospital – my results are in and could I come to a meeting at 11.30 that same morning. ‘Yes of course’ says I. Been thinking of nothing else for a week.
I meet the consultant surgeon who performed the Biopsy – Mr Wheatley. He has a lovely style about him – considering the news he must deliver. He explains the cancer type in broad detail – a 3cm lump and says that the general treatment is 6 weeks of Radiotherapy at 5 days treatment each week.
He also levels with me and says the CT scan has shown some anomalies on one of my lungs, so he’s arranging an MRI scan to check that further and also a jaw x-ray, which will be needed to ascertain if any work needs to be done to my teeth, prior to the radiology treatment.
This is important, because the teeth and jaws can really be affected by so much build-up of radiation.
He’s already arranged these for me and asap after the results are in, I’ll be back for another high-level meeting with the Oncologist who’ll be taking care of the next phase. But before all of that, a nurse introduces herself to me – Vicky.
Vicky is assigned to me to co-ordinate and be my point of contact for the next phases of my journey. This will be through all pre-treatment, treatment and post treatment episode.
Vicky is the Lead Head and Neck nurse specialist and is also a Macmillan Nurse.
Between Mr Wheatley and Nurse Vicky, I’m beginning to become quite humbled at the care and attention that has been planned for even this first diagnosis meeting. I leave the consultant and Vicky has an armful of RELEVANT information for me – all produced by Macmillan… A booklet specifically about Head and Neck Cancers, a contact for specialist benefits claims for cancer patients and a hospital contact who will discuss my holistic care throughout.
But right now, there’s only one thought on my mind, how on earth do I tell family, starting with Samros, who’s patiently waiting for me at home. Well we did know I suppose, even though we didn’t know until we knew.
And that just about explains the jumbled-up feeling. We had a few tears and talked it through. I’m sure this is beatable, but just the very word ‘Cancer’ is so, so emotive.
Then of course it’s time to break the news to family – my brothers in London, then my mum, then got my 3 grown kids and I together on a group video call.
I didn’t hold back and told it as I understood it – which on that day was really just a bit abstract to me. I explain that this might not be an aggressive cancer and has a good rate of recovery. Also, I didn’t have all the details yet, that would come after the MRI and next discussion with the Oncologist.
I think that allowed me to drip feed the extent over a week or so and looking back, gave us all time to absorb what has happened. And a lot had happened in just two weeks, so far.