Finding Out You Have Cancer
Nothing prepares you for it. I always used to see the cancer research adverts (which now seem to haunt me) and think how unlucky those people are but it would never happen to me. Luckily I’m fit and healthy! I’ve always exercised, never done drugs, always been very anti-smoking and eaten an extremely clean and healthy diet with the exception of the odd boozy night out here and there. But, cancer doesn’t discriminate.
I was referred to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London. This worried me as it was a specialist hospital so they must have thought it’s serious however I was optimistic and told myself it was all just precaution to rule anything serious out. On a quiet day the drive to the hospital would take 3 hours. The biopsy was done on a scanning table. They put a grid over my shoulder and a needle in different parts of the grid, do a quick scan, come back and move the needle to where they needed it to be. They were taking biopsies of the soft tissue and bone. The Dr was a similar age to me which was a little worrying, but reassured me I wouldn’t feel much pain with the local anaesthetic. How very wrong he was. The devise used to take the samples is cross between a thick needle and a clicky pen. It would snip a little sample from the tissue when the Dr pressed the end. I laid there feeling the needle wiggle around, scrape my bone and it felt like he was needle fucking a nerve. I was gripping the table, sweating with veins bulging out my head till the Dr injected some more anaesthetic into the area. It was similar to the scene off Wolverine when he gets his bones injected with Adamantium, only slightly less cool and I didn’t kick off. Afterwards they marked me with a little tattoo so they knew where they took the biopsy from. I left with my first bit of badass ink and a very sore shoulder!
On the train back to the car I looked down and realised blood had leaked all over my t-shirt so now I was walking around London looking like I had been shot, I was surrounded by Londoners so no one cared, maybe this was normal.
The results of the biopsy would take a very long 7-10 days. In the mean time I had to return to this hospital twice for scans of my lungs (they predicted it was Ewings Sarcoma and that spreads to the lungs first) and full skeleton. This did worry me as I started to think they must be concerned to warrant all of this.
I was up north for the weekend when I got a call asking to come in Monday for the results. I knew the receptionist couldn’t tell me the results but I asked anyway because I didn’t want to wait 3 days! However, she did say “the consultant doesn’t usually have any appointments on a Monday but he has made an exception for you”……..well, that’s fucking great thanks! As you do I took to the internet from the start of all this and started looking at possible things it could be. I assured myself it was a cyst or a benign type of tumour that occurs when you experience some trauma to the tissue and carry on using it. It must have been that I thought! I trained on an old rugby injury.
So I relaxed as much as possible over the weekend and met my parents at the London hospital for the results. It was a nervous waiting room and when 3 people turned up I thought, oh shit they wouldn’t bring a team to tell me I’m fine. We sat down in a tiny room and the consultant got my images up and said “so tell me a little about yourself”. I thought what the fuck tell me if I have cancer or not!!, but instead gave him a blind date style introduction. “Hi I’m Julian and I’m from Weymouth!” etc etc. He then said “as you know we took a biopsy and the results have come back positive as cancer…” I took a big sigh and looked up at mum and dad. Silence. Their faces said it all, they looked like they had just seen a ghost. “Ok” I said “what do we do and when do we start”. He went on to tell me the scan of my lungs showed little nodes that could also be related to the cancer but might not. We didn’t find out till later that they actually were. He also told me a little bit about the tumour itself. It was so hard to take in but words that stuck were aggressive, very serious but also curable and it usually reacts well to treatment.
We left the building in shock. I called my girlfriend to tell her it was cancer and that’s the first time I really struggled to hold the emotion in, I could only say really short sentences because I was scared of breaking down on the phone to her. It was a very quiet and long drive home. Mum came in my car and we hardly said a word, we were just in shock. Dad drove back alone, I wouldn’t have wanted to do that drive alone. We all went back to my mums and she made me dinner, learning bad news was hungry work! We sat around the kitchen, tried to process what we had just been told and spoke about how we were going to face it. I’m young, fit and healthy so I was going to do this! I was going over in my head how I would tell my house mates. I decided to text my brother before I went home as I don’t know how I would have told them. Either broke down or made a really inappropriate joke out of it. I wanted to let him know first and I still needed to tell my sister as well, somehow over the phone as she lives abroad. These are all shit conversations I wasn’t looking forward to.
I eventually left mums and went back to mine. As soon as I walked through the door I could feel the atmosphere. They were all sat around the lounge looking very shocked and sad. What I didn’t need was people being down and depressed about it so we sat there for a few hours and spoke about it which helped everyone. My next issue was breaking the news to all my friends and work. This was really hard. I wanted to be the one to tell them but I couldn’t face that conversation many more times. It was so draining and I hated it, its what made it feel real. Some how I went to bed and I cant remember if I slept much that night, just being told I had cancer I cant imagine it was a good nights sleep. So a day later I decided to put together a well worded text and sent that out with some shit hair loss joke, I think it was something about saying goodbye to my moustache and looking like Dr Evil. The response was heart whelming. They were all shocked, but all so supportive. The support from everyone always helped and was massively appreciate and humbling. One mate of mine lost all his numbers and replied just saying “sorry who is this.” Cock George!
So my life was just about to change forever and it was time to get the ball rolling moving towards treatment. There was lots to do!