Tuesday 20 January 2015

The Big C. At 24. Not Ideal.

A fairly uneventful week culminated in a phone call on the evening of the 19th January from my initial ward at the Heath, asking for me to arrive at the hospital the next day to discuss the biopsy results. This was it. Glad to finally have some answers I sacked off crap TV and went to bed early with the sounds of Harold and Kumar in the background.

8am on the 20th I’m awake and getting ready to head to Cardiff. Myself and my Dad are going to meet the consultant for the results as I feel it would be easier to have this discussion with less people in the room. I am however on strict orders to report back to my mother as soon as possible.

10am I’m sat in the waiting room with an overpriced vanilla latte, being told that the Dr has been called away and will be with us in about half hour. Such a tease. Half hour of helping my Dad with a cryptic crossword it is then. Luckily my brain appears unaffected in this regard and we blast through the crossword at a decent rate, just before the Dr appears and takes us into an office for the chat.

Here he tells me that I have brain cancer. Not an ideal start to a Tuesday by any means. A grade 3 glioma (an astrocytoma to be more specific).

The treatment plan for now is that I will meet a specialist this coming Friday at Velindre Hospital in Cardiff and then go through the exact plans for radiotherapy and chemotherapy that I will need. My initial reaction is one of worry, not because of the result but because my head shape really does not facilitate a bald head. On the up side I’ve been given the go ahead to keep training as much as I feel able… So hopefully I can remain in shape to distract from how disfigured my head looks without a strong quiff perched atop of it.

My plan over the coming weeks of treatment will be to keep this blog updated with any developments, partially as it saves me posting long, tedious Facebook posts to the uninterested, but mostly because it will give me something to do that does not require masses of concentration or time. In relation to this my vision has been worse since the operation and is making it hard to concentrate on a screen for long periods. So any spelling or grammatical errors will have to be taken with a pinch of salt and the knowledge that they would never usually be permitted! 

One final note for this post is my reflection on the NHS. I have heard a lot of complaints about the way the NHS runs and about waiting lists etc. I have even complained myself when it comes to physio and treatment. But it is now exactly two weeks since I was taken into hospital at the request of NHS Direct, by NHS paramedics and assessed in an NHS A&E. I was given an initial and correct diagnosis that very day. Since then I have been treated with compassion and skill at every turn and moved across to the Hospital most suitable for me as opposed to the standard referral unit for the region. I have been operated on successfully and given every possible aspect of support in my recovery. Now I have been further referred to an NHS cancer specialist who I expect will continue to impress me in this vein. I would not like to attempt to put a figure against the cost of treatment I have received or will receive, but whatever that is I can safely say paying for it myself in an American Health Care Plan way would have been far from fun. Well done NHS, and thank you.

I will wrap up this post now as I need to get ready for the pub. Treatment might be starting soon and I can't be wasting Steak Night at Spoons in the meantime!

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