The First Day of the Rest of My Life
Today, Tuesday 2 August 2016, was the first day of the rest of my new life. Today I learnt that there are some things in life that transcend everything. Today I learnt that the little things in life matter and some of the bigger things in life do not. Today I was diagnosed with cancer.
It was not an unexpected diagnosis, I'd already done lots of research on my symptoms and when I saw the consultant at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton I already knew what he was going to do and what he was going to say. Before going in I'd explained to Tina to hope for the best but to prepare for the worst and I wasn't wrong. That doesn't give me any satisfaction to say that but it meant the initial blow wasn't quite so harsh; at least to me. The hardest part for me was telling my children. I tried to be strong for them as they will be strong for me, they will be my rock that I will grasp with all my might and cling to when times get hard.
I first noticed something was wrong about 8 weeks ago, I had an earache and sore throat that I couldn't shift. I visited my GP and after I explained my symptoms she looked in my ear with her 'ear looking in instrument' and told me I have a wax build up. She advised to put some olive oil in my ear for a few days and make an appointment with the nurse to have my ear cleaned out. I was in the examination room for probably less than two minutes. Two weeks later I had my ear syringed and a couple of days after that I went on holiday to Wales. I still had the earache and the sore throat but thought this was due to the ear cleaning out procedure.
It was while we were in Wales that I discovered a lump on my neck. I was a little worried at that point but didn't suspect anything sinister; I thought it was just an infection but to be on the safe side I went to the hospital with the aim of getting some antibiotics. I saw a nurse who triaged me and I explained all my symptoms to a her. Earache, sore throat and now lump on neck. I was asked to wait in the waiting room and I would be seen when somebody was available. After three hours of waiting a nurse called my name and told me that the consultant on duty had advised me to go to my own GP when we got back home. And so that's what I did. A different GP to the last one gave me a thorough examination and referred me to the ENT Specialist. This wasn't what I expected and when I walked out of the surgery without a prescription for antibiotics I knew that this was potentially something more serious than a waxy ear!
I have laryngeal cancer, there is a growth in my larynx and one of my lymph nodes in my neck is swollen, indicating that it has spread to there. I face a series of tests: MRI, CT and a biopsy where the consultant explained I would be 'put to sleep' which made me chuckle once all these are done and the extent of the cancer is established I will have treatment that could include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The tests should all be conducted within 3-4 weeks.
The irony is that one of the main causes of this type of cancer is smoking and drinking, neither of which I've done for at least 25 years.
At the Ear, Nose and Throat clinic at Royal Sussex County Hospital all the staff were very professional, attentive and helpful, they went through all of what was likely to happen and when.
By completing a journal I hope to be able to keep my family and all my friends informed of my progress and my road to recovery.
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