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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Verdict

I've returned to where I left off with my kidney cancer journey and having had to revisit hospital with a suspected blood clot after my surgery, I was determined to steer clear of the place for a while. However, I was still anxious to see the consultant surgeon who had performed my nephrectomy and find out if they had discovered anything from the subsequent biopsy of my tumor. This appointment seemed ages arriving, it was actually 6 weeks but the time dragged as in between there was no one to give the answers I needed.
The appointment was at Solihull Hospital and it was at a urology clinic. After a wait of over 3 hours (yes 3) my name was called and I was finally sat opposite the man who had saved my life and removed the cancer and my kidney. We had met previously of course but this was different, this time I was minus a tumor and out of a hospital bed.
The consultant examined my wound and read the notes from the previous admission for suspected blood clot and wound infection. The scarring wasn't pretty but he was satisfied it was now healing well. He asked questions about my general health and well being which were difficult to answer as I wasn't sure if how I felt was good or bad considering my surgery. Personally I still felt pretty rough and was in a lot of pain from my back - conversely the opposite side. The consultant though said this was all relative to what I had been through although he was concerned about my back pain. He didn't think it had anything to do with the surgery and recommended a bone scan as a precaution.
Then it was our chance to ask questions, my husband was with me which was wonderful as during my admissions and diagnosis all news had been broken to me alone - not by choice. We asked the obvious questions, 'has the cancer all gone' and 'will there be any more treatment'? The answers were pretty much what had been said previously, the tumor was encapsulated in the kidney and had been removed whole, therefore it should be all gone. While 'in there' they had poked around to check surrounding organs and no evidence was found of anything else sinister. As kidney cancer is not generally treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy there would be no further treatment but I would need to return for regular check ups and CT scans. When asked how long this would be for we were told, 'as long as there's a national health service - indefinately'. I was of course now a renal patient as well as a cancer patient so this I suppose made sense and was reassuring, I was on the radar!
The BIG question of  'is there a chance it has spread' was answered in this way. The consultant took a pen and paper and made a dot on the paper, he said, 'right now there could be a tumor this size inside you, we wouldn't pick it up on a scan and you wouldn't know it was there. You have the choice to leave here and worry endlessly about that or you can choose to go out and carry on living your life as best you can. I suggest the latter'.
Well, that may sound abrupt and a bit too graphic but, it's true. He went on to say that so many elements of our daily life can cause that one cell to go wrong, what we eat, drink, breathe etc. I was at least going to be closely monitored and lets face it, had been walking around for God knows how many years carrying the cancer inside unknowing.
Another BIG question was of course, 'how did it get there?'. I mean, obviously I don't want it back and I wanted to find out if my lifestyle could have had any effect or, more to the point how I could possibly avoid a recurrence. At this stage I was still pretty ignorant of kidney cancer and knew only the statistical figures and they told me it was uncommon in women of my age and was not a well known cancer compared to others. The consultant gave another succinct answer... He said, 'walk into any children's ward where you may find young people suffering with cancer and ask yourself the same question, why them, how come, what caused this?' In other words, if we knew the answers we'd all be better qualified to avoid this awful disease, sometimes there just aren't any reasonable answers and if there are, it's often guesswork.
I left that day together with my husband in the knowledge that everything that could have been done, had been done and nothing was being left to chance. We realised why our wait had been so long, the consultant had spent time explaining thoroughly all we wanted to know, no complaints there.
The next step was a bone scan. In the meantime I could worry about that small dot on the paper that could be inside right now OR I could get on with the life I'd been given thanks to medical intervention and thank God I was here.
I chose the latter.

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