I will start with a summary of how I have got to where I am with this. After all, one doesn’t suddenly wake up one morning and “have cancer”, although in my situation it wasn’t far from that.
Bank Holiday Monday, 4th May. I got up and had a scratch, like you do, and noticed a lump in my groin. My first reaction was “Bollocks” and my second was “Bollocks, I have a hernia”. After the usual difficulty, I managed to see my G.P. later that week. Having seen him he reckoned he couldn’t find a hernia, but referred me to the groin man at my local Bupa hospital. I get Bupa membership through work so am fortunate in that regard. I saw Mr Groin about a week later. He couldn’t find a hernia either, but was concerned about the lump, which had grown by this time. It was in the crease between the top of the right leg, and the lower abdomen. He was also concerned about the fact that my right thigh is 2 cm larger in diameter than my left one – something else I didn’t know, but if I had, I would have put that down to being right sided. Anyway, he asked me to make an appointment for a CT scan – fortunately, I was able to get one the next day. CT scans are OK, but when having the groinal area scanned one needs to drink, and retain, a litre of fluid that contains some ions that show up on x-rays. It sort of tastes like aniseed, but not quite. The scan itself takes about 5 minutes, but you are at the hospital for about an hour and a half.
The scan takes about 10 days to collate and have a report made. My 10 days were up on Tuesday 19th May, when I had an appointment to see Mr Groin again. I saw him at 5 pm. Good news was that my liver, spleen, bowel and other useful things below the diaphragm are all OK (incredibly!), but I have enlarged lymph nodes in the groin and across the abdomen. This is a likely indicator that I have lymphoma, which is cancer of the lymph system. I asked him how long I might have had this condition, and he said maybe 9 months to a year, but if it’s in the abdomen, it’s not something that you would notice. He told me that in order to be certain, he would need to remove the enlarged gland in my groin, and send it away for a whole string of pathology tests (another 10 days). He suggested that I return in the morning for the operation. This I duly did.
So, I arrived at the hospital, sans breakfast or cup of tea, at 8 am. By 8:40am, I was on the trolley in the pre-med suite, congratulating the anaesthetist on how I didn’t feel the stent going into my hand. He said thanks, but I do this 20 times a day, every working day of my life. Which is fair enough, I suppose.
Next thing, I am suddenly wide awake, in recovery, with an oxygen mask. No drowsiness, not sickness, no nothing. The nurse took off the mask, and I said “Is that it?” Incredible. Off back to the room, for lots of water to drink, and free wifi. Back home at tea-time. The following morning, I was sore where my man ripped part of my guts out, but otherwise I felt fine.
So, how do I feel about probably having cancer? Mr Groin (who will pass me over to an oncologist in 10 days) told me that if I was to choose what sort of cancer to have, lymphoma would be top of the list. Which is nice. There are several types of lymphoma, some of which can be cured, and some of which you just have to live with. I won’t know until later which type I have. Obviously, I would prefer a curable one
But, even if I haven’t, I am not feeling worried, or anxious. It’s almost as if it’s happening to someone else. Being fortunate enough to be able to have an operation 15 hours after a consultation is a big bonus, of course, as there’s less time to fret over what’s going to happen to you, but I am resigned to having to have chemotherapy over the summer. I do confess to having a little weep on Tuesday night, though. It’s just one of things that comes along in life that you have to deal with.
I am disappointed that my annual pilgrimage to Leica HQ in June is likely to need to be cancelled, but that’s not the end of the world. I’d hope that my 25th Anniversary trip to Malta and Italy will be OK in October though.