Sunday, January 31, 2010

How I found out I had cancer

Readers of my other blog have read all this before, so feel free to skip today's entry, but I thought that I should include the beginnings of this battle.

I had no symptoms of bowel cancer until I got a dose of gastro (camplyobacter) in early November 2009. When I went to the GP she ordered a blood test for kidney and liver function as well as the stool sample. Strong antibiotics cleared up the gastro, but I didn't feel completely well. I was very tired and felt nauseous. I went back to the GP and she ordered another blood test. This showed that one of the liver function markers had deteriorated markedly in three weeks and that another marker was now less than normal. She ordered a CT scan and I had it that afternoon - Monday December 14. I was to see her late Tuesday afternoon, but I was called in to the office in the early morning to receive the bad news: colon cancer and liver metastases - lots of them.

We are fortunate in that we have top of the range health insurance (and have had it since we were married 44 years ago) so I was able to see a colono-rectal specialist at a private hospital that day. He booked me in for a colonoscopy on Friday and made an appointment with an oncologist for the following Monday. The surgeon said that if the cancer was not obstructing the bowel immediate chemotherapy would be the best option, in preference to surgery and then a six week wait to start chemo.

I had problems with the prep for the colonoscopy - I vomited up the first dose - so I was admitted to hospital and the preparation given under supervision. From there all went well, and the colonoscopy showed a single tumour which was not causing obstruction. No need for immediate surgery.

We were booked to go on a 16 day cruise to Indonesia staring on January 4th so that had to be cancelled. Again, thanks to the travel insurance we took out, we will get a full refund of our fares. However, it is taking the cruise line a while to refund us the portion we were entitled to, and we need that before we can claim the remainder. I also need a letter from a doctor to explain the cancellation.

Tomorrow I will write about what happened when I saw the oncologist.

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