Stories of Cancer
Giving Voice to Real Experiences

A Hell of a Month

Tuesday 26th July

The appointment with my new doctor to get the results was a sombre affair. He was a tall, powerfully built, middle aged man of few words. The diagnosis of cancer was confirmed in a quite matter of fact way. An elevated blood test – actually it was over 3000 and the normal range is from 0-35!

The CT scan showed a large tumour on my ovaries and possibly on my bowel.

The doctor continued talking about what they intended to do in a very flat and sober way. He was not given to outbursts of optimism or reassurance and told me that it was very large and probably stage 3 cancer and although I knew very little about the stages and grades of cancer at that time, this suggested to me that it was not a good prognosis.

I was to be admitted the next Thursday for a full hysterectomy and maybe to take some bowel away. This was the most frightening thought for me at that time – I just could not imagine myself with a colostomy, yet here they were telling me that was a possibility.

Four weeks after this major operation I was to have chemotherapy which would take place at a large and world renowned cancer hospital nearby.

Although I was expecting bad news all this really shocked me. The rush of tears that I had managed to hold back most of the time since the first visit to the GP now welled up and rolled unrestrained down my cheeks. I sat down and was comforted by the nurse who I had begun to trust and rely on more as the process of diagnosis went on.

None of this felt real yet but it must be. I now had 8 days to tidy up my affairs and to tell all my clients, supervisees and friends what was going to happen. I also had to tell my sons and my mother. This was the hardest, especially with my eldest son who was old enough to really understand the possible implications of such a dreadful diagnosis and was very upset.

I often found myself trying to comfort people and wanting to protect my loved ones from the full impact of all this.

Mark was wonderful as were my good friends. I don’t know what I would have done or how I’d have coped without the support of these lovely people.

At the same time as this bomb was going off it was my younger son’s leaving party at primary school and although I really didn’t feel like going I did. I managed to keep up the pretence of normality with everyone except one other mother who I had developed a good relationship with. It was a relief to be able to tell her at least. After a couple of glasses of wine I began to feel somewhat anaesthetized and even managed to be a bit jolly. As I look back this all seems pretty amazing in the circumstances. It’s wonderful what alcohol can do in the short term to soften the blow.

It was not to last however as I began to dread the coming operation and treatment to follow whilst also looking forward to getting it over with. Life as I had known it was over and this was the start of a new chapter and one that I had certainly never planned for myself.

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