February. Some may describe it as a dull, dark and uneventful month. Me on the other hand has always loved February, why? It’s my birthday month and I love birthdays!!
February 2018 though, was no normal birthday month. My birthday fell on a Monday (12th February) and as luck would have it, so did my appointment to see the Oncologist at Western Park Cancer hospital. Ok, lets look at the positives, the sooner I see the consultant, the sooner I get treated. That’s got to be a good thing.
Knowing when my appointment was, Robin decided to make sure I still got a birthday and booked us a night away in Manchester the weekend before. Looking back now, I have no idea how we managed to go and have a great time together, I guess it was how naïve my brain was at the time to what truly lie ahead.
Manchester was a great weekend and it was important for us to try and enjoy the ‘normality’ for as long as possible. My mind did drift in to dark places, it did wonder why me? Why now? What did I do wrong? But, as I have said previously, you have to fight through these thoughts ( with the help of your friends, family, wife, husband, partner) until you can think positively again.
So, 12th February arrived. Happy Birthday to me!! Once again Robin kept it as ‘normal’ as possible, breakfast in bed, lots of presents (it’s not the thought that counts 🙂 ) and then it was off to Western Park Cancer Hospital to see the consultant.
The drive to Sheffield was tough, pulling in to the car park even tougher, walking in to the cancer hospital reception and seeing all walks of life with all types of different cancers was even harder. I was now ‘one of them’.
After what seemed an eternity, my name was called. Robin and I, hand in hand walked down the corridor to the consultation room. After being weighed, having my DOB and name checked we sat and waited for the consultant, Dr Linda Evans to enter the room.
Heart pounding, hands clammy, leg shaking nervously; she entered. Of course the first thing I wanted was a ‘Happy birthday’ from her so I made it known today was my birthday!
After some explanation of her role, she turned to the business end of things. Explaining I didn’t have a ‘text book’ seminoma cancer and that it needed to be treated with “respect”. I’ll give it all the respect it needs, I thought, so long as it gets rid of it.
So, the treatment plan…..I was thinking a few days of Chemotherapy (back and forth in the day) and potentially a surgical procedure to take out the tumour on my neck. Nope. I was very wrong.
” We need to blitz this hard” she said. You will be having a 12 week cycle of BEP Chemotherapy. 5 days (in hospital) 2.5 weeks off with a top up treatment on the eighth day of each cycle. Robin quickly did the maths. That was 23 days of Chemotherapy over 12 weeks and I’d be in hospital for 20 days.
I was shocked. Stunned. I really didn’t realise what I had would warrant such an intensive treatment regime. The tears in both of our eyes started to swell up. Dr Evans then tried to reassure us. Telling us that it is highly likely I’ll be cured and I have age on my side.
“When do you want to start treatment?” she asked. I replied “as soon as possible”. With a quick check up to the Clark on ward 3, it was confirmed I could start on the 20th February.
My mind was once again in overdrive and to be honest I’m struggling to recall how the appointment ended.
What I can recall is that we jumped in to the car and drove to Ecclesall road to the Gaze Inn for some birthday lunch. After ordering a MUCH needed beer each, we sat down to eat. I couldn’t hold it anymore; the tears and emotions opened up as we sat in the middle of the restaurant. The thought of having 23 days of treatment (along with the side effects it could cause) and being away from home was just too much to take in.
Robin once again pulled me back together, confidently telling me “everything will be alright, it always is” words I really needed to hear. She even got me a small cupcake with a candle to blow out. I’m not sure if me blowing or my tears actually put it out. Either way, this was always going to be a birthday with a difference!
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