Head and Neck cancer has a high probability of recurrence. Since my original diagnosis 3 years ago I have had to visit my specialist team every 2/3 months for a check up which can include a visual inspection, a feel around the neck for abnormal lumps on the lymph lodes, a camera up the nose, or a CT scan. Despite there always being a new cosmetic procedure to talk about, the “big C” returning had never been an issue.
The forehead flap operation had not been a complete success (Surprise surprise!) The surgeons had re-cut around the skin to maneuver it away from the hole filled by the forehead flap and it was there that the new problem occurred. Slowly but surely tiny holes formed and spread from one to the other.
Again, ever so slowly that popped open, the skin in that area as tight as a drum and as thin as cigarette paper, I knew what was coming. The date was booked for early Feb.
The check up
Always slight trepidation when waiting for a ct scan result. But this is not my first time and I have become increasingly confident of an all clear outcome, especially since my consultant said this would be my last routine scan, 3 years clear is pretty guaranteed.
I sprawled out in the consulting room, casual and relaxed, the professor knocked and entered, looking a bit flustered. Warm greetings exchanged he cuts to the chase “the scan shows a new shadow, I checked against your last scan which was about 8 months ago and it wasn’t there then, its only small but we need to investigate urgently!”
If you have read my story from the beginning this is just like when I was told for the first time the scan had shown a tumour, only this time I have had 3 years experience of hell. Am I going to have to do it all again? Has this all been for NOTHING?
OKAY I thought, I am not going to die, it just means I have to go through more surgery, treatments, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Not again, please!
“It’s not good Sue, the scan has shown something” I called from the 211 bus back to Victoria, it was a sunny day but in our world a storm was upon us. I would be at leat 2.5 hours away from getting home, Sue was in a thousand pieces on the other end of the phone. Instant devastation, helplessness, fear. A lethal cocktail.
A 2 week wait now for an ultrasound! Given the area on my face it was to be carried out by the very head of radiography, he was reluctant to do a scan at all as he didn’t think their machine would get a reading. I was told they could pin point the exact point with the machine and insert a needle to get a biopsy.
2 weeks is a long time to find out your fate. Again I resigned myself, prepared mentally.
“Dan let’s get married now, not next year?” We was only a month away from paying a deposit for our wedding next year. “If we are going to do it let’s get married and enjoy ourselves before it all starts again?” I agreed.
The next day I went for the ultrasound.
“I am glad we did this after all , I really didn’t think we would get a reading, and I have to say in all my 30 odd years I have never had to perform an ultrasound on this area of the body. I am pleased to say that this shadow is in fact liquid. A small pocket between the overlaid skin probably from the forehead flap. Liquid is not a tumour, and therefore nothing to worry about!”
SAY NO MORE DOCTOR I AM OUTA HERE!
living with cancer is like living in a house of cards, and boy didn’t my world come tumbling down, but it was nothing to worry about, nothing at all, I am still 3 years clear, and maybe it took this scare to make me fully appreciate that I am 3 years clear, and I do indeed have the rest of my life to look forward to!
Sue cried with joy, she had dealt with the anxiety of waiting the best way she does. Organizing stuff. In a mere 3 hours she had the wedding booked, everything! Church, reception, cake, accommodation, honeymoon…. Booked for 6 weeks time!