Ticket machines, convicts scans and breaking news

It’s just a little bump dear honest

Week Commencing 21st August 2018

So, I knew I had skin cancer/melanoma and I knew it was internal and that a cancerous lump had been removed from my gland when I had the operation. What we didn’t know was the stage of the cancer and if it had spread anywhere else or how serious everything was. This next part gets a bit hazy between further scans and telling my family. I will try and remember to the best of my recollection though.

The PET scan
I had an appointment at the hospital to go for a PET (positron emission tomography) scan. A PET scan determines the stage of the cancer and if it has spread to other parts of the body. I went to this scan on my own as Ste had used up the majority of his leave and we tried to save the rest for important meetings and appointments. My mum and dad were on holiday with D & A for a few days which was a blessing really as I couldn’t be in contact with young children for up to 8 hours afterwards due to the radioactivity. I went to work in the morning and drove myself to the hospital. I was fine or so I thought. My mind might have been slightly preoccupied as I managed to drive into the ticket machine at the hospital car park and now had a nice red go faster stripe and dint on the drivers side. I’d normally let someone know of my misdemeanors but judging by the look of the ticket machine someone had also been for a PET scan earlier that day.

I text Ste to inform him of the damage he now said we were even as a couple of months earlier he managed to damage my boot by reversing into a post (we do have reversing cameras in the car might I add). I now drive round in something that looks like it’s been entered for a demolition derby minus access to a boot due to the fact that one weekend Ste decided to “make it shut proper” by putting a hammer to it. He did such a good job that it shuts so proper that it no longer opens (but that’s another tale). At the time on witnessing this I was making tea in the kitchen and thought to myself maybe the stress has actually got to him.

So, I had the PET scan. Before the scan they inject you with some radioactive dye and you have to lay as still as possible for around 20 minutes. This is so the scan shows up as clear as possible. During the scan one of the Radiotherapists talks to you and your told to hold your breath at certain intervals and remain as still as possible. Some people may find this scan quite claustrophobic but I felt fine about it all. It was just another part of the surreal yet current life journey.

The Results
Possibly a week after the PET scan I received a phone call from one of the skin care nurses. She said that I was to have an appointment with the Oncologist quite a few weeks later to discuss my results. I remember thinking this is far too long to wait and was quite anxious about it all. I phoned Ste and he got on the case. The skin care nurse agreed that another three weeks was too long to wait to discuss the results she had spoken to the Oncologists who was on holiday and they had agreed that she could discuss the results with us but on the condition that she might not know all the technical details. This was fine with us so we had an appointment arranged for the following day.

The skin care nurse didn’t have a room booked for the appointment so we arranged to meet her at a different ward with a meeting room she managed to borrow for the afternoon. Myself and Ste went to the ward and were told to sit in the waiting area. Whilst sitting there we sat facing a convict in handcuffs and a boiler suit. It was like a scene from the fugitive on an NHS budget.

The News
We met the skin care nurse whom I had talked on the phone to previously. She asked us if we wanted a cup of tea to which we both said no. She said she had an email from the Oncologist so she could tell us the results of the scan. She started the conversation with it’s not good news, it’s really bad news.. She began to relay the areas where cancer had spread in my body including my back, a large mass on my liver and a large mass 7cm on my chest. There was also a query as to whether the cancer had shown up in my brain and foot.

At this point both myself and Ste broken down in tears it had finally sunk in the seriousness of it all. I couldn’t stop crying and for the first time I realised the severity of it all and I felt I had lost control. Ste was devastated the skin care nurse was caring and had gone out of her way to ensure we weren’t hanging on for another few weeks.I can’t imagine it would have been easy for her telling us the news. She went out of the meeting room and went to get us a cup of tea and biscuits and she said we could wait in there as long as we needed. Later she came back and I was to go for an x-ray on my toe as I did mention I had broken it previously which is why it could have shown up on the scan. I was also to have another scan a few days later to determine if the cancer had actually spread to my brain. Once they had determined that then they could discuss treatment as I understand the treatment for cancer of the brain is different to that of other types of cancer but also that it’s not good. At that moment I was hanging onto the fact that I had coughed during the PET scan which could account for the imaging on the scan around my brain.

We were in shock and devastated this news wasn’t something I could tell my parents over the phone whilst away with our children. For the next few days I told a few white lies over the phone when asked about my results, that we would have to wait a couple of weeks until the Oncologist was back off leave. They had just come to terms with the news that I had cancer now I had to give them the news that it had spread to other areas and it was in fact Stage 4 cancer. See breaking the news that your ill with cancer to those that you love and care about isn’t something that’s easy or that you can prepare for but unfortunately its part of the process in having those individuals help and support you in your journey.

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