Other Stuff – Starting with C
“You have a growth in your bowel and it’s probably cancerous.”
I couldn’t believe that I had heard correctly. My hand crept out from under the blanket and gripped the hand of my husband, Timo, who was sitting beside me. It’s not true; this isn’t happening to me; I’m never ill; were some of the thoughts that went through my mind. I focussed on the word “probably” and gained comfort from that. Timo, however, heard only the word “cancer”.
For the past several weeks I had felt tired and off-colour, quite unlike my usual self. I’d taken more sick days off work than normal and eventually decided to visit my GP and tell him that I was feeling “bleagh”. He sent me for blood tests which indicated that I was anaemic and as a result he decided that I should have a colonoscopy and gastroscopy to try and determine the cause.
Preparation for a colonoscopy is extremely unpleasant. You have a drink a liquid which doesn’t taste too bad at first, but this has to be repeated again an hour later after your insides have stated to work fast and furiously. I gagged after half a glassful and just couldn’t take any more. Then I started eliminating from both ends at the same time!
Come morning I was exhausted and couldn’t face taking a third glass of the liquid. Timo drove me to Joondalup Hospital and had me ensconsed in Day Surgery where the nursing staff couldn’t have been nicer and more positive. I remember one who had to ask me various questions about possible contact with swine flu or mad cow disease; when she came ticking the latter on the admissions form she said, “No mad cow tho’ she sometimes feels like one”. That raised a laugh and helped to alleviate my trepidation about the procedure.
I didn’t have long to wait before I was wheeled into the theatre and within seconds I was asleep, coming round to feel thirsty and hungry but not able to have more than water for a little while. I longed for the promised sandwich and cup of tea but had to wait until what seemed like ages. I didn’t realise that anyone was avoiding telling me the results, I just wanted my tea and sandwich. Only after Timo returned to sit by me did the doctor tell us the awful news. and advise us that it was probably hereditary and I would need to tell all my close relatives.
I was in a daze when we returned home. I made an appointment to see my GP the following day, Friday, and he advised a CT scan the next morning and made an appointment for me to see a surgeon the following week. Monday June 1 was a public holiday in Western Australia so nothing could be done until after the long weekend.
The surgeon was very positive about the wholel thing telling me that colon cancer is one of the easiest to treat and he had every confidence in being able to remove all traces of the cancer (by then it was a probability, not a possibility). I was booked into Glengarry Hospital for an operation on the following Tuesday and just had to wait. I was so glad that I had some pretty nighties and an attractive dressing gown so didn’t have to go shopping for those.
Wednesday I returned to work to break the news to my boss and colleagues. I didn’t want them all pussy-footing around me so told them bluntly what had occurred and what the stakes were. I also said that I had absolutely no intetion of letting this disease get the better of me and with my good old Taurean stubbornness I was ready to fight!