Saturday, 27 April 2013

Results day

Surprise surprise, I don't sleep well on Wednesday night and end up watching medical dramas in the wee small hours. I skip the NHS fly-on-the-wall documentary as I know it has a piece on terminal cancer patients that I can't bear to watch.

The idea was to go early and get my portacath flushed. The district nurses won't do it because they won't insert access needles, so it seems sensible that as I'm there to see the consultant I kill two birds with one stone. But the unit is really busy with 19 patients; the lovely staff only have time to wave quick hellos to me as they rush by. And then it's time.

The oncologist wastes no time, thankfully. With the bare minimum of social niceties over, she launches straight into the results.  The blood tests show CEA (the cancer protein "marker") levels of 2, which is normal. The CT scan is clear. There is an area of uncertainty in the bowel that she thinks is around the anastomosis (the join), but that is most likely stool blocking the scan view or scar tissue.  It's unlikely to be a polyp given their slow rate of growth, but she will discuss it with my surgeon and the radiologist who usually looks at the colo-rectal scans at the MDT on Tuesday and then call me to let me know if the surgeon wants to go back in and check it out.

She gives me the formal staging and grading: grade 2 (moderately aggressive) tumour with Dukes C T2 N2 staging. She comments that the T2N2 staging is unusual in bowel cancers, with the tumour usually being larger before progress to the nodes, but then I'm not in the usual category of bowel cancer patients anyway.

Then comes the reminder that this is not over. Bloods in three months time, another scan in six. A review of progress on the side effects. There's a way to go yet before normality is reached.

Back to the unit, where finally I get the portacath flush done, then out into the glorious spring sunshine. We phone our families and text our friends before treating ourselves to a steak lunch. I'll have my steak rare, please, with a glass of cava.

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