“It’s not good news…”
Those were the words spoken by the consultant at the ENT clinic in Blackburn Hospital. That was the moment I knew I had cancer.
Actually, I’d known a few minutes earlier when my wife and I were called in to get the results of my biopsy. Instead of just the consultant and the nurse in the room, as before, now there was a third person. A woman with a very serious expression on her face. And she was clutching a clipboard.
Nothing good ever comes on clipboards.
That was when I knew.
Although, to be fair, I’d suspected what the diagnosis would be when the receptionist in the x-ray department booked in for a CT scan for the next day. Appointments usually take weeks, at the very least. Hurrying a scan wasn’t a good sign.
Neither was the fact that the consultant had taken FOUR samples during my biopsy – two from the outside of the lump in my throat/neck, and two from inside. The complete right hand side of my face and neck had been numbed, and then the consultant had slid open a drawer of tools that wouldn’t look out of place of the set of a horror movie. They glinted in the harsh, fluorescent light. If they had voices, they would have been cackling.
The first two samples were taken via a gadget that was pressed against my throat, then a thin saw punctured my skin and slid inside my lump. It was horrible – not because I could feel the samples being taken, but because I could hear the saw rasping back and forth on the flesh inside, well… inside me!
I can’t even be in the kitchen when my wife cuts up pieces of chicken!
The two inner samples were simply ripped out of the lump. By that point, I had a weird feeling that something was amiss. This feeling was enhanced by the consultant’s insistence that I didn’t go home but, instead, returned for the biopsy results in 45 minutes’ time.
That was a fun three-quarters of an hour, I can tell you.
But, does it really matter? Does it matter if I can pin down the exact moment when I knew I had cancer? Is that in the slightest bit important?
I really don’t know.