They say the day you get the diagnosis is the day the bottom falls out of your world, but that didn’t happen to me.
It didn’t feel like I’d fallen off a cliff edge, into a sickly battle for my very survival; it felt like I’d been handed a memo containing a useful piece of information.
This was probably more due to the skill of the doctor rather than my stoic emotional control. She was warm, but also professional and precise, so much so that I didn’t feel anything other than gratitude for her having found it, and curiosity about what happens next.
“We found a tumour,” she said, debriefing me on the colonoscopy results.
“A tumour?” I answered, impressively calm, “Do we know if it’s benign or malignant?” expecting her to say that she didn’t know and that they would need to do a biopsy.
“I’m pretty certain it’s malignant, although of course we’ll need to check”
I nodded as she explained the next two tests they needed to do, and then how my treatment protocol would be decided.
“We meet on Thursdays,” she explained, “we have a board of doctors who decide. It’s most likely to be radiotherapy at first, maybe some chemo, so we can shrink it before we attempt surgery”
I nodded and thought it all sounded like a bit of a bother, but nothing I couldn’t handle.
As we left the Doctor’s office I had said the word “cancer” out loud, just to see if it broke the spell, but I still felt calm. I joked that I had the bad luck to get cancer of the arse, not a cool manly cancer like cancer of the muscles, or cancer of the chiselled brow – no, I get a tumour up my rectum.
If there was one thing I was going to do during this whole cancer debacle, it was to try to handle it in the sort of way that people would talk about with awe afterwards. They’d say things like “he never lost his sense of humour” and perhaps even use the word “brave”, but I am getting ahead of myself.
Continue reading “Getting a cancer diagnosis”