For anyone who has found watching England in the World Cup painful this week, take that sense of expectation, hope, belief, disbelief and the gamut of emotions you go through and multiply it by one hundred and you might start to understand how I felt on Thursday when I went with my parents to find out whether my Dad’s cancer had returned. Or so we thought. I’d outlined how I expected the day to pan out here. Some bits were exactly as expected, others not so.
First up the folks weren’t dressed as expected – Dad had on a t-shirt and mum sandals (that’ll only make sense if you’ve read this). The rest was pretty much as predicted, we got there 40mins early and had to loop around the carpark twice to get a space, the letter was indeed consulted before entering, mum went off to use the loo, Dad commented on the weather, his files were there but then the visualisation went to pot.
We went around to the usual waiting room and spent the next two hours waiting! This is an absolute record for us. Dad’s consultant was held up in surgery; I know there will be many people reading this (I’m thinking particularly of you Karen ;)) who will be fuming at this – once the grumbles started I asked my folks whether they minded and their response “we’d wait all night to see him” – this is the loyalty for someone who without doubt has given my Dad three years more than he would have had without him.
That said, we didn’t know there was a delay until we were already 90mins late, at which point a message came up on a tv screen behind where we were sat, saying the clinic was running an hour late. In my opinion it would have worked much better if a person had come out and addressed the people waiting and let them know. Instead at the point when it became apparent that people were getting uneasy about over-running on parking (I’d already decided I was going to run the risk and argue afterwards if I got a ticket) someone did come out, take registration details and let the parking attendants know. They then also, when asked, let people know how many people were ahead of them in the queue which meant people could go off to the bathrooms or coffee shop without fear of missing their appointment.
What followed was also as predicted, the weight check, the lack of chairs, the consultant’s questioning, Dad’s response….all of it as expected. Until we got to look at his images. This bit was fascinating, the four of us looked at Dad’s PET Scan and his past two CT Scans. The PET scan was inconclusive, on the plus side there aren’t multiple growths showing, but there is one significant mass that has appeared in the past six months and at this stage it’s most likely that it is a recurrence of the cancer.
We were told there’s a 1/100 chance it’s an abscess or something else but most realistic is that it’s a tumour. Next step is for Dad to have a biopsy in the next 3wks and then they’ll decide what course of action to take. Sadly the consultant is quite clear that if it is cancer there will be no cure this time, they might operate to remove it but it’s just a case of buying time.
Dad is quite philosophical about things, he knows that without the care he received when he was first diagnosed with cancer he wouldn’t be here now. Mum was keen to point out that everything about Dad’s case has been unusual – right down to the type of cancer he has (bile duct) and his consultant readily agreed. So for now we’re holding out for another oddity, the 1 in a 100 chance but I think I speak for all of us in saying at the moment the hardest thing is not knowing what we’re facing, in the words of the great Virginia Woolf
It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality.
Hopefully we’ll have some answers soon. Until then the good thing about a cancer scare is that it really does remind you of what is important in life – and what isn’t. It also lets you know who your mates are, and who you can rely on when the chips are down – thank you, each and every one of you, you know who you are.