Last week I was diagnosed with cancer. That was a shock but at least it’s given me something to blog about.
It’s a rare form of bladder cancer that has been aggravated from a lifetime of urinary tract infections. I’d been having some exploratory tests but I don’t think anyone thought cancer was an option. The average age of diagnosis is 73 and I’m 43. I’m not male and I don’t smoke. Also, I have this weird type that is virtually non-existent in the Western world. Once I’ve settled down, I’ll be pitching my story to health editors everywhere. My usual fees apply.
God I love the NHS. Within six days of being diagnosed, I was operated on. The NHS has almost certainly saved my life. I’m being treated at Homerton hospital in Hackney under the care of the top urologist there and one of the few women surgeons in the area (the area being urology, not Hackney).
Tickets to The Book Of Mormon should be on prescription. By coincidence I had booked to see the show last Saturday. It’s so funny that four days after a cancer diagnosis it had me laughing out loud. I’m happy for that to be used on the poster.
I won’t dwell on the dark places I visited in those first few days. Google is not your friend! Having to tell my mum and my big sister – three years after we lost our dad to cancer – is not easy. Googling Rightmove and showing my other half flats he could afford if he had to sell our current place didn’t go down well. My partner, friends and family have all been brilliant.
And there has been humour. Telling one of the urologists to “eff off” when he converted my weight from pounds to kilos in his head and added 10kg on. Hearing radiologists discuss their lunch orders as they piped instructions to me through headphones during an MRI scan. Helping the nurse work her new computer as I’m dressed in gown, hair net and surgical stockings.
I’ve also had some crazy mind-bending drugs.
All the clichés are true. I’m taking one day at a time. I’m appreciating the moment. It puts things into perspective. Blah de blah.
I’m also eliminating stress from my life and I’m being kinder to myself. If I don’t want to do something, I’m not doing it. That is empowering. I’m fortunate I work from home and I’m pleased I’m busy.
The prognosis is good. The cancer is “tiny” and the likelihood is they’ve got it out. The doctor has talked about putting me under “cancer surveillance” with three-monthly checks. If there’s a hint of it coming back then we’ll take it from there. Right now, I’m happy with that.
So, please treat me as normal. I don’t need flowers or presents or anything like that. It’s nice to know that people are around and I can rely on the NHS before the Tories dismantle it forever!