Eight weeks ago I was lying in bed about to get up when one of those stray thoughts passed my mind. I have not had a feel at my bits lately.
Now this is not some fetish activity but a good self-examination is something not just for the ladies and itís very important for us blokes too but probably best not done on the bus. I was just coming to the conclusion that all was well when being the thorough sort of para medical chap I am I noticed a small lump in my right groin. I checked on the left and that was soft and normal. A poke about revealed a hard lump like a small cocktail sausage.
I called the doctors where the nice receptionist said I could have an appointment in a fortnight, well thatís not happening so we agreed a doctor would call me back and I went to see him two hours later.
He booked me an ultra sound scan and had some bloods taken. A week later it became sore with a dull ache. A week later I had the scan and the consultant radiologist informed me that it was a mass about 5.5 cm in diameter and he did not want to worry me but he would fax the results to my GP straight away.
I called the surgery from home and they had the results and would book me on the fast track for a cancer referral at the local hospital.
The appointment came about a week later and I saw the Consultant who examined me, he booked me for a biopsy and a CT scan. I asked him for his provisional diagnosis and he replied 70 to 30 its Lymphoma.
I actually thought ****, thatís really poor, not good at all.
A few days later while having a brew at a local cafť my phone rang, its CT bookings here, we have sent you two letters for appointments for a CT but ignore them they are wrong, we were asked for an urgent appointment for you and booked one in two weeks but the consultant said no its urgent, so we booked one for a week and he said NO so we will see you day after tomorrow. Ok I said.
Which was good but also bad.
I had the CT and more bloods were done. I had called the surgery and knew the first set of bloods were normal. I had not lost weight and my appetite is still see it and eat it and I was not having any night sweats so some things were positive.
A week later I went off for the biopsy guided by ultra sound. Hmmm said the consultant itís not a good sample I will have to try again, and she took three bites at it to get enough of a sample. Itís not what I was expecting she said. Itís standard for there to be no comment at the time and I knew better than to ask and needed to be patient and await the results. I did ask if it was still about 5.5 cm in diameter and she said it was about that. So no rapid changes then.
A few days later my home phone rang which is rare since invoking the telephone preference service. Hello said a pleasant lady, this is the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham could we just confirm your address, and she gave me two to pick from one current and one old so they had the right guy and I updated her, hang on a tick I said, what does your department specialise in? Bone cancers she replied. Thanks I said. Bone cancer? She said I would be discussed at the multi-disciplinary team meeting on Tuesday and if I called at lunch time she would be able to fill me in.
Next day I get a letter copied to my GP regarding my referral now with a provisional diagnosis of either an Oesteo Chondroma or a Sarcoma.
So knowing Googling things is a very poor idea and leaving everything in the specific hands of experts is the way to go I had a very brief look, the Chondromaís are usually benign and the Sarcomas obviously are not.
Tuesday dinner sees me on the phone and the secretary gives me a number to call so I can talk to a specialist nurse. The phone is answered with the words Macmillan Unit. The nurse is not available but I leave a message for her to call me back.
Itís a long afternoon. Six oíclock comes round and I am thinking no news to day when she calls me. I was discussed at the meeting but they have not received my biopsy information and why have I not had an MRI scan. I told her I have one initial consultation and no further contact except for phone calls and the copy letter. So you do not know you have no secondaryís then. So I do have cancer then. No I said she replied the CT shows us that, but you need and urgent MRI. No secondaryís is really good, lungs and liver are ok I breathed a sigh of partial relief.
Next day am back on the phone to my local hospital about the need for the MRI and the next day and the one after that. I recalled Birmingham as if I miss the meeting on Tuesdays I wait another week, which is what happened. The nurse was very good and confirmed they had my biopsy results and I have Chondro Sarcoma originating from my pubic ramus (hip) and still need the MRI. I suggested traveling to Birmingham and having it with them, I will call you back she said. Five minutes later she is back with a date for MRI on my pelvis in the morning and see the doctors after lunch. Excellent all my eggs in one basket now. She also told me that from that mornings meeting, it was a Grade One cancer which is good, isolated to point of origin and no secondaryís and that this type were slow growing. So far so good as it goes.
Imaging rang this morning to confirm my appointment and that I have no metal bits in me the scanner would suck out.
It still aches but not enough to take paracetamol roll on Tuesday when I should know exactly whatís going on and what the treatment plan is and a time scale.
Went to The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham last Tuesday, 7th June and had an MRI and saw the team in the afternoon. Itís a cracking place even parked straight away.
As I put my ear plugs in for the MRI I commented its just like shooting, the nurse said oh I shoot clay we do 60 every Sunday. As the scanner rumbled away and Smooth radio played in my head set I puzzled on why the hell shoot 60 and not some multiple of 25 that is easy for cartridges and clay's in boxes of 25 and 150, why sixty?
The upshot is I have a rare bone cancer called a Chondrosarcoma there are only about 100 cases a year in the UK. Fortunately if you are going to have cancer itís probably the one to have as its very slow developing and mine is grade 1.
The treatment is surgery and I will be going back in about a month to have the tumour and my right pubic ramus removed. It appears the guy with the sharp knives and saw is one of the top people in the country for this type of thing and is straight forward down to earth and does inspire confidence just while he is sitting there. I will be in hospital for about three weeks and then off work for about three months.
I may need some adjustments at work later as with a bit of my pelvis missing there is a danger of hernia so after carrying folk up and down stairs for almost 37 years it does not seem a great idea to carry on. So hopefully I will redeploy to fast response vehicle work, which I have been thinking about a bit before all this, as now just over 60 and otherwise fairly fit and previously well avoiding heavy lifting seemed a good plan.
So as it goes this is fantastic news.
I am going to use my time of enforced rest to study for my DSC 1 I have the manual and will get the CDís then when I am fit again get a course done and get some stalking in somewhere and life will be absolutely excellent.
So if you are not in company itís time to examine your groins.