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The story so far Pt1 – 2013

#cancer #lymphoma #bronchiecstasis

Brave? fighter, warrior? me?
These are words I hear people use to and about me “Oh you must be so brave” “You’re a real fighter” “You’re a warrior” no, no i’m not, I’m just me doing the best I can given life’s hand that I have been dealt.

I’m not “brave” I am rational, I have been given a choice, have treatment which will make me ill for a while or don’t have it and die.
So I rationalise those choices, get ill for a while and get better which means it’s temporary or get dead which IMHO is fairly permanent and can’t be undone.

The beginning.

Aug 2013 we went on a trip the Isle-of-Wight with my mother, we would do this a couple of times a year as it was her birthplace and where her last remaining relatives lived.
We got back the hotel after a long day visiting relatives and decided to have a few drinks in the bar, it was a Friday night and as it was during the ‘holiday’ season the hotel had entertainment on. A guy and girl duo who played and sang rock songs. We sat around a small table with my back to the stage. I was quite happy there sitting at the table tapping my foot to the music, engaging in chat with my mother and my partner as well as turning around to look at the band every now and again. During a break the duo had my mother looks at me and she asks me “What’s that lump on your neck?” ” eh lump? what lump?” I asked, she replied “When you turn to look at the group there’s a lump on your neck” I had a quick feel, couldn’t feel anything and said “No idea mum, maybe it’s a boil I dunno” and that ended that conversation, the group returned and we went back to enjoying the entertainment.

After a while my bladder started nagging me, as it does when you are drinking, so I went to the toilet. After I had done what I went in there to do I washed my hads in the sink and started to look at my neck in the wall mirror and looked, no lump that I could see so I turned my head one way then the other and indeed if I turned my head a certain way there was a lump on the right hand side of my neck, I had never noticed it before and I use a mirror every day when I shave.

The long weekend away ended and we returned home to normality, I completely forgot all about my lump, it wasn’t painful, it wasn’t bothering and I couldn’t see it when I looked in the mirror unless I held my head at an awkward angle. Then one morning while I was having a shave I realised I could see it, I wasn’t holding my head at a strange angle this time, it had got bigger, not much but just enough to make it noticable. I thought it was a cyst come up, I’d had cysts before and this looked like another one. It wasn’t painful and wasn’t really bothering me so I went on with my life.

A few weeks later I had a routine appointment with my GP, this was to discuss my Raynaud’s syndrome it was now autumn and the weather was changing which meant as it got colder my Raynauds would start to play up. Six months of the year it never bothered me so I never got medication for it but the other six months it did and I needed a prescription for nifedipine so I went to see my GP for some.

After we had discussed the nifedipine and my Raynauds she asked if there was anything else, I nearly didn’t mention it but as it had in the last few weeks started to become more noticable I said “Yes, I have a slight lump on the side of my neck, I think it might be a cyst” she looked at it, prodded it a bit then started asking me some what I considered to be strange questions “Had I lost any weight lately?” ” Had I noticed any other lumps?” “Had I been sweating at night?” “Did I feel more tired than usual?” I answered no to each one and thought “It’s a cyst I only need some antibiotics to clear it up what a strange lot of questions” Hmmm” She says ” I think I’d like it checked it out, it does look like a cyst but lets get the E.N.T. people to look at it anyway, I’ll do a referral for you now”
She didn’t give me any medication for my cyst and told me that I would be contacted by the hospital in due course.

Me and my eldest daughter late 2013, you can see the
lump on the right hand side of my neck.

I left the Doctors surgery and thought no more about it. Around a week later a letter arrived telling me I had an appointment with the ENT consultant at my local hospital in 3 days time. “Wow!” I thought “That’s quick for the NHS”. Hindsight they say is a wonderful gift, looking back now all the clues where there but at the time is still wasn’t registering. Yes things moved quickly but that didn’t set any alarm bells ringing I just gave it no thought at all.

The day of the appointment came and I saw the consultant, I sat down and he went to his computer and read the notes my GP has put on my record.
He then had a look at my lump, poked and prodded it a bit and asked me the same questions my GP had . “Was I more tired than normal?” “losing weight?” no I answered to each one.
He then said well I think it might be a Bernier’s Cyst as you have no other symptoms of anything else but we will get a biopsy done just to check anyway. he then said “You should hear in a little while when that will happen” that ended the appointment and I went on my way.

2 days later a letter arrived telling me that I had a needle biopsy appointment the next week, again I mentally noted that the NHS doesn’t normally work this fast but thought nothing more than that. Again I put everything out of my mind and went about my business.

The day of my biopsy came and I duly arrived for it, the doctor and his nurse were very nice people they both made me feel really relaxed about the whole thing, they sat me down and explained exactly what was goi9ng to happen to me.
First they would give me an injection of a local anesthetic in my neck then they would use an ultrasound machine to guide a much larger needle into the cyst to take a sample , before I knew it the whole thing was over and done with, I sat up and the Dr showed me one on the ultrasound images of my cyst and said “well the architecture looks normal” again I didn’t really register what he meant I just thought he was being polite, again hindsight tells me he was specifically looking for the abnormal.
The nurse then said the sample they took would be sent off and someone would contact me.

To be continued in part 2

Steve Woodmore

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