First things first.
The word mammogram (or variants of the word) appear four (well five now that I have written it here) times in the first few paragraphs of this blog. Sorry for the monotony, but I have lost my thesaurus.
In my last post, I mentioned that I was not to have a mammogram. In the end, it was decided that I would have one as I had not had one since before my mastectomy.
At the start of November, I put me breast under the clamp that is used for a mammogram. I was pretty calm until I was told that I ‘if I heard nothing in the next three working days, then I would have the all clear’. I would be sent a letter soon after.
As this was on a Friday, that meant me panicking for five days every time the bleeding mobile rang.
I settled down after I had not received a call by Tuesday night. But hang on, did the three days include Wednesday or not? It was all a bit of a strain.
Anyway, I did not receive a call and relaxed. About two weeks later, I realised that I had not received the letter. Yet again I panicked.
My mind went into over drive. “They never said that they would contact me by phone over the three working days. Maybe they were going to tell me that the cancer had returned via letter and they had sent it to my old address” Not beyond the realms of possibility as I had only just moved. In the end, I rang my wonderful breast care nurse, Sarah, who told me not to worry as they never sent letters and did not know why the person doing the mammogram (Mammogramist?? I dunno) ever said that. She had a quick look at my notes and said I was all clear.
I do wish these people would think before they said things. It is my life and by association, those around me that they are playing with. Maybe that should have been in brackets that bit, but I am wearing the 9 and 0 buttons out on this keyboard.
As I have said before, whether you like it or not, cancer defines at least a part of who you are and this cancer lark is that it is never that far from your thinking.
Saying that, it was not at the very front of my mind when I went to see my GP on 10th January this year, two days before my cancerversary. That is (for those not in the know) the anniversary of my diagnosis, I rather like this term, as it is a celebration that you have beaten the bastard disease for yet another year.
Some aspects piss me off. I have noticed some chancers online selling items for each year like a wedding anniversary.
Anyway, I digress…
I went to see my GP with a number of complaints that I would like to have fixed. I mentioned the sudden appearance of the gap that has appeared on my skull and he told me not to worry. I mentioned my fatigue (again) which I assume if still from the chemo and how I keep forgetting things and not being able to err err errr what time is it/? SORRY, concentrate I assume that this is Chemo Brain Macmillan info on Chemo Brain
I was told not to worry about that either. I mentioned my two trigger fingers and he has referred me to the hospital, which is nice. Hopefully they can be fixed before the band starts gigging again. He once again bollocked me for not taking my diabetes as seriously as I should.
I then mentioned that I could feel food going down my windpipe. He asked me how long I had had this and I reckoned about six months. He then gave me the same look that he gave me when I took off my shirt over two years ago and he gave me an emergency appointment for a scan and biopsy etc.
In that split second, I realised that my life could be changing again. “Could it be cancer again”? I asked him. “It is a possibility” he said.
“Let’s get you down for an endoscopy as soon as possible” I asked what cancer it could be and he said windpipe. Actually he said Oesophagus but I can’t spell that word.
I came home and went straight onto Google. Not sure if that was wise, but I did.
I looked it up and it said that in the hit parade of cancers (I may be paraphrasing here) it is number 9 in the charts but very serious. 10% chance of living for five years.
I left the computer and sat on the sofa and nearly passed out.
I received my appointment, which was for 20th January. The next ten days were full of confusion. I often went onto websites to see if I really had all the symptoms and sometimes I thought not and other times I thought I did.
Deep down, SJ and I were convinced that I could not have it. Not this soon after I had been told that even before the chemo I was probably all clear.
Trouble is friends and whisper it. I was convinced two years ago that I did not have it.
I kept myself busy over the ten days. I went to see my beloved Orient win again. “Typical” I thought. The best season Orient has had in my lifetime and I may not be able to see it. That would be bloody typical of them!
I went to two meetings with me mate Sarah (Third Sarah mentioned on this post so far, catching up with mammogram) about her exciting project Paint C Out that I am involved in. Can I just add that this post was supposed to be all about Paint C Out until all of this shit happened. I will have to leave it until the next post. For now have a butchers at this http://paintcout.wordpress.com/about/
Went out with SJ on my birthday to see Stewart Lee (brilliant) while three of my daughters baby sat for us. I did not tell them about my ‘drama’, they had suffered enough in the last few years.
I also had a Fans Forum meeting at Orient. But always in the back of my mind was the results of the Endoscopy. I was not sure if I could carrying doing the work I was doing if I was diagnosed with cancer again. I assumed that I would be having treatment ASAP.
I somehow got to 20th January, which the first day at Pre School for Spencer. I was in such a state. I am not too proud to say that I was feeling so emotional every time I thought of him and my girls.
Anyway. The Endoscopy. I was told that they were going to put this bloody great tube down me windpipe which would go to my stomach and chuck a left, ask for directions, come back up again and then have another go down there in case it missed anything.
I had two options. I could let them do it after they had sprayed my throat or I could have sedation but only if I had someone who could drop me home after the treatment. Luckily my guardian angel Andrea (who should change her name to Sarah to keep this post tidy) was at hand to pick me up. I had been told that the first option was horrible by those that had had it.
I went to see the guy who was going to stick the tube down my throat and after a chat he persuaded me to just have the spray as it would be over in about six minutes, which suited me, because I just wanted to know the results. You know, just in case I was going to die sometime soon, I would like to know.
After we spoke, I realised that if anything was going to ‘The Lab’ to be tested, then the chances were that would be cancer and I would have another few days wait.
I laid down in a foetus position and a nurse put a contraption on my mouth that stopped me talking and where the tube would go. All that was missing was Bruce Willis and a pool ball. The throat spray was strange, it felt hard to breathe.
The fella started to put this tube in my mouth and I retched so violently that I actually pulled the tube out of my mouth. I couldn’t handle. He asked me ‘what was I doing’? and I said gmmmmpp mmmppphhhh mmmmhppph.
He actually said that no one had reacted that quick before and that I had better be sedated.
ALL TOGETHER NOW!!!!!
He gave me ,what he told his assistant was a strong sedation as I was going to need it.
Next thing I know, I am on a bed and the Tube bloke told me that there was no cancer and that it was something else. I can’t remember what because as I was told, the sedation makes you forgetful. Sadly I can still remember the retching and sensation of a tube the size of a boa constrictor (artistic licence there) not even reaching my throat.
I found out after that I had reflux .
How do I feel now? Over the moon. I have not stopped smiling since I found out. My feelings of the last 11 days are hard to describe. The fact that I was waiting for a Doctor to say yes or no to what would be a life changer in a split second cannot be described
Like most people, I always have something to worry about. My main worry before I saw my GP was so trivial. I have to remember how I felt during those ten days and how it wiped out so many worries.
I am so honoured to be the first male cover star of Breast Cancer Care’s magazine Vita. http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/news/vita-magazine/i-didn-t-know-men-could-get-breast-cancer
It is a big deal for me and from the comments I have seen, it has helped to bring male breast cancer into the open.
Finally, I would like to pay tribute to one of our Breast Cancer Care models that we lost late September. Clare Rayner.
As I have often said on here, I am in awe of all of those that I had the honour of sharing the catwalk with in 2012 at the Breast Cancer Care Show.
As a group, we stay in touch, meet and give each other strength.
The group is emptier for losing Clare, but we remember her with a smile and admiration
Clare was a strong lady, who took crap from no one. At the same time, she knew how to have a laugh.
She had been fighting secondary breast cancer since 2009.
I have nothing more to say except RIP Clare, we all will miss you