There are three dates from last year that stick in my mind in relation to my illness. February 27th was the day I was rushed into Frenchay hospital to undergo emergency surgery to relieve the acute hydrocephalus I was suffering from; March 9th, one year ago today, was the day I was told that a CT scan had identified that I had tumours and April 19th was the day I learned that I had Leiomyosarcoma.
One year on from getting the results of the CT scan I still
remember vividly how it felt to be told that I had tumours. I was still in
hospital recovering from the hydrocephalus whilst the doctors carried out
various tests to try and identify what had caused it. On the afternoon of March
9th I was expecting a visit from the neurologist to discuss the results of an
earlier CT scan. When he entered the ward the expression on his face told me
all I needed to know, it was immediately clear that the scan must have revealed
something unwelcome. I was relieved that Katie was with me so that
we could hear the news together.
Prior to becoming ill I had given a little thought to what
it would be like to be diagnosed with cancer, not least because my family history
on my father’s side has been plagued by the disease, when it comes to the
reality though this is not an event that it is easy to rehearse for. The scan
had identified a mass in my lower abdomen and also a number of masses in my
liver. The neurologist said that he and his colleagues were almost certain
these were tumours. His words were quietly spoken but their effect was shocking
and stunning. I’ve never been on the receiving end of a tackle from Matt
Banahan, the six foot seven inch tall, eighteen stone Bath Rugby wing, but I
imagine the impact would be similar.
The neurologist went on to explain that I would need to
undergo a biopsy and other tests to enable them to identify the exact nature of
the tumours. He also said enough to leave Katie and me in no doubt about the
seriousness of my situation. After the neurologist left a nurse very
kindly made us a cup of tea. Drinking tea may seem like a very clichéd British
response to the situation, but it did at least help us to recover a little composure!
If I had known a year ago that my health would be as stable
as it has been then I think I would have been very pleased and relieved; in
such uncertain situations it is very easy to spend time dwelling on the more
negative possibilities. Realistically I have very little ability to influence
the future course of events, so spending time worrying about what might be is
not, in my view, a very productive use of my time. I think that is a useful
philosophy for me to take forward into the next twelve months.