Today is truly the day.
2015 has been building up to this day as I will find out my biopsy results taken from lymph nodes under my left elbow and underneath my left armpit. And as you can imagine, I’m shitting myself so much so that I should’ve bought shares in Andrex. Has my cancer spread?
Back at the Rose Centre again for the umpteenth time, I have to wait what seems like an interminable age to be seen which just raises my blood pressure even more. I’m not a superstitious man, but even I’m clutching my daughter’s “lucky buddha” – every little helps, eh?
Finally, over an hour later than my official appointment and numerous visits to the loo, I’m called into Professor Powell’s office…
He gets straight to the point. Starting with my now amputated fingertip which was sent to the Royal Marsden Hospital for analysis, the remaining finger, bone and blood are free of cancer. There is no sign of metastasis. Better still, the cancer that I did have on my fingertip isn’t the very rare eccrine porocarcinoma as first feared, but the much more common squamous carcinoma. Or, to be more precise, invasive moderately differentiated squamous cell carcinoma.
He takes a good, long look at my stump and declares that it’s healing really well. I might still experience the phantom pain (which will fade overtime if I do); unusual coldness (stick your hand in your pocket and warm it up); small electric-shock-like sensations (which will pass) and stiffness in the joint. It should get more movement as the oedema disappears over time.
But it’s looking good. Gotta keep moisturising my stump to help the healing process.
Lymph Node Biopsy Results
Next up, my twin biopsies – my sentinel lymph node biopsies. The results: “No evidence of metastatic disease”. The scars are still a deep red and raised, but, again, these are healing well too. Again, gotta keep moisturising regularly.
Prof Powell ends with some concern over my mental state. It’s crucial that I get back to normal life ASAP so that I can start to heal mentally as well as physically. I should get some help if I need it via my GP.
This could have been the killer blow in an already terrible year.
But it wasn’t.
The cancer hasn’t spread beyond my fingertip. Yes, I had to endure the operation, my fucked front teeth and the agonising wait until today.
But for the first time, it’s fantastic news. The best I could have hoped for under the circumstances.
A Problem Halved
I can feel the stress and tension ebb away as I leave my consultant’s office and head to the reception. But it’s not over yet. Not by a long shot.
Even though I’m clear of cancer and “no further treatment is required” at this stage, I still have to undergo “surveillance”. I immediately imagine covert operations, phone-tapping and dark-suited men in black cars with blacked-out windows stalking my every move. But it’s nothing of the sort. Over the next 5 years at the very least, I visit the Clinic:
- Every 3 months for the first three years then
- Every 6 months for the next two years then
- Once a year thereafter.
And that’s if the cancer doesn’t return!!
Some people get less for murder…
Cheers, Tears But No Beers
My daughter, who insisted on coming with me even though I didn’t want her to just in case it was bad news, starts crying as I tell her the good news. Then we make our way home.
Friends and family start calling to find out what happened. And it’s a great feeling to be able to tell them something good rather than something bad for a change.
But I don’t celebrate with champagne or beers. Firstly, I’m trying to be disciplined and stick to my new diet. After all, if you are committed to doing something, you might as well do it properly. And I don’t want the cancer to return anytime soon so I need to do all that I can to keep it at bay.
Secondly, it doesn’t feel like a celebration. A massive relief undoubtedly. But not a triumph. My fingertip is gone forever, my teeth are a long way from being fixed and the cancer may have gone but it still hangs over me like the sword of Damocles. It’s still the beginning rather than the end.
But I will sleep much better tonight…