Viewing this blog on a Windows PC

Just wondering why the URL (within the blogger system) for the image behind the header is invalid when viewed on a PC, yet works fine when viewed on my Mac at home. Can anyone else using a PC, see the photo behind the header?

The number of pages generally that don’t work properly when using IE7 is remarkable, in my experience.

First stage signed off

The surgeon doesn’t want to see me again – which is good. He couldn’t (wouldn’t?) give me the CT films, but did give me the CT report. That makes horrible reading too, when combined with the pathology report that I have already got a copy of. Oh well…

He was a bit upset that I have found myself a new haematologist, but, frankly, I wasn’t prepared to wait for his bloke to get round to contacting me.
Onwards and upwards – more (and better) news tomorrow I hope.

Appointment with my man this evening

Just hoping that he’s got all the CT scan information, including film, so that I can take it to the next hospital tomorrow evening.

Otherwise, I might need to have another one, which will be another week’s delay.
However, I spoke with my GP yesterday (he called me) and he has been absolutely fantastic. He has asked hospital Nr 1 to have all the info I need available for me to collect tonight.
Fingers crossed…

Spending money (or not as the case may be)

Strange (or maybe not so strange) how this affects the way you think about things.

For example, I went through a thought process this lunchtime in John Lewis with regards to a potential purchase of an item of around £300. I didn’t bother, because I felt that I might not get full use out of it.
Short-termism takes over.
Going to save a fortune.

Haematologist appointment

Just had a call from the “new” haematologist’s secretary (5:45 on a Saturday? That’s more like it)

Have an appointment booked for 7 p.m. on Wednesday – can’t wait.
I need to get hold of my CT scans and report from the first hospital to take with me. That could be tricky, but I will make a serious fuss if that’s not possible.
Final appointment with the surgeon is on Tuesday evening, so should be able to tie up all the loose ends with him then.
Feels like we are staring on a road to making some progress now.
Which is good 🙂

Getting a haematologist

OK. Friday. End of the week after seeing the surgeon again. No sign of the haematologist writing to me or calling me for an appointment.
I rang up the hospital, asking to speak with the guy’s secretary. When I get through, I find that he only works there one day a month, and he won’t be available until the end of June and then again in August. That’s 3 weeks away! What the hell is going on? I could be dead by then…
This is Private Healthcare we are talking about here. Not the NHS – who have targets and requirements to see people within strict times of being referred. This stuff costs me money in insurance premiums every month.
I call the G.P. again, and am told that if I come to the afternoon surgery towards the end of the session, I can see a doctor at the end of the list.
I am fortunate that the doctor on duty was the Senior Partner, and he was excellent. I explained what the situation was (he had most of my notes from the hospital there already) and I explained that I didn’t think that it was good enough to expect people to wait 3 weeks to see a specialist. He agreed, and did some ringing round. I am now off to see a haematologist next Wednesday or Thursday at a different hospital.
I need that advice.
All I have at present is a pathology report which reads like a death sentence. I need someone to tell me what is going to happen to me. What I need to do. What my chances are.
I want some answers and I want some honesty.
I am disappointed with the level of service in this regard from Bupa.

Pathology Report

The 10 days since the operation have now passed, and on Tuesday, 2nd June, I saw the surgeon once again.

 

The report is not good.

 

I definitely have a lymphoma in my abdomen. Not just in the groin, but also in other nodes within the abdomen. I need that referral to the haematologist.


Go to the Macmillan Support Centre at the Linda Macartney Centre in Liverpool. The woman there was extremely helpful and very supportive, both to me, and my wife.

Infection

So, having had the operation to remove my lymph gland on the Wednesday, I took the rest of the week off work, together with the second Bank Holiday of the month, returning on the Tuesday.
I was fine at the office, and had a very useful chat with one of my Directors who had been through a similar experience a few years ago. Some people in the office knew what was happening to me, others didn’t.
By the Thursday morning, (28th May), I had noticed that the wound area had swollen more than it had been previously, and half way to work, I turned the car round and returned home. I was pretty uncomfortable, and by lunchtime had begun to get a temperature.
I phoned the hospital in the morning and asked whether I could see someone that afternoon. They said just turn up to the day case ward and the resident doctor would be able to take a look at me. This we did on my wife’s return from work at about 3pm.
By this time, my temperature was 39.1 deg C, and I was feeling pretty rough. They decided to admit me, and place me on IV antibiotics, to deal with the infection that had developed. I remained in hospital until the Sunday, when I was allowed home with a continuing course of oral anti biotics. I was advised to take the week off, in order to help get rid of the infection and rest.

How it started…

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. 

Andy Barton's blog as a Leica user in remission from non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

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