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First Skin Cancer Check

skin cancer check

I can’t believe 3 months has passed by so quickly.

I am back nervously sitting in the waiting room at The Rose Centre for my first skin cancer check since my biopsy results in February. What my consultant calls “surveillance”. I hate being here; it’s like waiting for judgement day. There’s only one ultimate question to answer: Has the cancer returned already?

The room is full of people, some with obvious plasters and bandages but most you would have no idea that they had any problem at all. They look pretty healthy. I don’t really know what to expect as I’ve never had any kind of cancer examination and I don’t know anyone who has either.

Waking me out of my daydreaming, well day-nightmaring to be more accurate, my name is called and I am ushered into a consulting room.

Skin Cancer Doctor

This time, I have a new consultant to examine me rather than Professor Barry Powell. A very pleasant, smiley Indian doctor, he grills me about how I have been since the biopsy results. Have I felt unwell? Have I vomited? Any pain in my left arm, under my armpit and in my left shoulder? Any lumps?

My answer is a definite No to all of these.

amputated finger

My fingertip is gone forever…

He then studies my amputated fingertip. It is healing really well and looks neat. Next: more questions. Any pain in my fingertip? Is the stump extremely sensitive?

Again my answer is a firm No.

I then show him the range of movement I have with my fingertip. I can bend it at a right angle and rotate it a bit. However, it is still very stiff in the joint and the stump itself is thick and hard. My doctor reassures me that this will get better. It’s early days since the operation and it will improve especially if I continue to exercise it every day and continue to moisturise.

Lymph Nodes

Now we get down to the business end of my appointment: my lymph nodes examination.

He asks my to strip down to my underpants (shorts in my case) and sit on the examination bed. After blowing on to the palms of both hands, he then proceeds to firmly grip my flesh starting from my left wrist and working his way carefully but steadily up my arm to my armpit, shoulder and side.

It is such an unyielding grip that it hurts but not too painfully.

He then checks out the rest of my body and starts typing into his computer stationed on the desk in front of him.

And that’s it. It’s all over. He affirms that there is no sign of any distressing lumps or bumps. The cancer hasn’t returned in the last 3 months.

Relief Unbounded

I can feel the relief wash over me as I book my next appointment for mid-August. For once, I have received a piece of good news that doesn’t come with a lowly slap in the face. It has been such a topsy-turvy rollercoaster of emotions and personal events since the beginning of the year. So it makes a refreshing change to finally hear some unequivocal positive news.

I’m clear for now. Which is fantastic.

I call my family and friends to tell them the good news and it’s congratulations all round.

As I head out into what seems like a brave new world, I feel hopeful for the first time in ages. Maybe I do have a future beyond 2015.

Yet, my mind is a whirl of thoughts and unanswered questions.

Was the cancer on my fingertip a one-off? A weird twist of fate conjured up by a very unusual set of circumstances? Has stopping the Azathioprine made any difference? Has my new diet had any impact at all?

I guess I’ll never truly know.


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