Confirmation

Friday 9 September

Back to the specialist for the results of the biopsy and the plan of action. My wife accompanied me and later admitted she was ‘absolutely petrified’ as we sat in the waiting area. Personally, while I was a little apprehensive, I viewed this consultation as merely a confirmation of the preliminary diagnosis.

I could see three potential outcomes:

  1. Consultant greets us with arms outstretched, exclaiming ‘I was wrong – it’s benign and can be removed next Thursday. Happy days !’ Probability < 0.1%.
  2. The biopsies and scans confirm that the lump is a malignant tumour but we can treat it. Probability 95%
  3. As above, but there is also evidence of the cancer spreading to other organs. Probability 5%

With hindsight, there may have been another far worse option, ‘Cancer so deep rooted and widespread that can not be treated’. Anyway, I’m pretty glad that thought never entered my mind.

I took the precaution of bringing a beaker of cold water as the consultant welcomed us into his office. He told us the news which was, as I expected, option 2. I asked about  the size of the tumour which was 7.5 cm although the consultant told me not to get ‘too hung up on this as it is the type and growth rate is what really matters in these cases’.

I tried to imagine a 7.5 cm lump in my bowel and, not for the first time, struggled to grasp how long the tumour had been there and how on earth I had been managing to lead a completely normal life, working, playing, travelling, doing everything I normally do with no obvious symptoms.

Anyway, the consultant stressed the importance of starting treatment (a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy) as soon as possible to reduce the size of the tumour.

However, the abscess site in my bottom and the potential for infection was still a cause for concern as chemotherapy seriously compromises the body’s immune system. A pre-requisite before any cancer treatment could commence was a operation called a colostomy which would isolate my bowel area completely, require ‘exposing the colon’ and capturing what normally passes out of your bottom into a handy bag attached to my stomach.

Now, this wasn’t a complete shock to me as the surgeon had raised the possibility earlier and I had read this was quite common on the informative ‘Beating Bowel Cancer‘ site.

In any case, I had a disease that, if left unchecked, was going to kill me. I didn’t exactly have any choice in the matter. I preferred the surgeon being in charge. I liked the way he was decisive and made all the decisions on my behalf. I would have hated to be presented with the question – ‘Well – what do you think ? Shall we take the risk and proceed with chemo or go for the colostomy ?’

However, I was a little taken aback when he announced ‘Yes – I can tag you on to the end of my list for surgery on Tuesday afternoon’. Tuesday – that was only 4 days away.

He asked me if I could come to the hospital for various pre-operation checks (blood pressure, ECG, MRSA swabs, blood tests, urine sample, medical history etc) the following day, Saturday which would take around one hour. I agreed and made a mental note to record ‘Football Focus’.

So that was it, it was confirmed, I had joined the ranks of the thousands of people who are battling cancer. Oddly, I felt strangely relieved as the news could have been worse and at least the next step was now in place.

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