Sunday, 27 December 2009

I wasn't expecting that...Part I

I guess it all started about 2 years ago now.  I think it was just a moment of vanity and I was looking in the mirror admiring myself - I was 35 and looked OK for my age.  I'd never noticed the lump on the left side of my neck, it was hard but it didn't bother me.  I even showed it to my wife - she said it was odd I should go to the doctor.  I didn't.  Every now and again for the next 6 months or so I'd look at myself in the mirror and and notice the lump.  It didn't hurt.  I wasn't sick.  It didn't bother me.  I'd even joke about it at work sometimes.

The summer arrived and I got a horrible rash on my foot.  I went to my GP and she gave me some cream for it.  I sat opposite her at my desk thinking to myself - should I mention this lump to her?  Nah, I won't waste her time.  Maybe I should say something.  She hands me the prescription and I say to her - "can you see anything unusual on the side of my neck?."  She puts me on the examination bed and checks it.  She says to me "you come here for cream for you foot and you forget to mention this???".  She thinks it's just a fat mass that has accumulated on my neck but sends me for a neck ultrasound.

The neck ultrasound reveals my lymph gland is swollen and not a mass of fat.  I remember asking the doctor who carried out the test "do you think it could be cancer?" - she laughed and said there's a million and one other things it could be before cancer.  I went back to my GP with results and she sent me for further tests.  Another ultrasound showed by spleen was swollen too.  I did blood tests.  Went to a surgeon.  Went to an ENT doctor.  Went to a haemotologist.  Had an FNA (Fine Needle Aspiration) where a needle is sunk into my swollen lymph gland and whatever is sucked out is checked.  All tests were coming back negative.  One blood test even showed I'd had Glandular Fever at some point - I didn't even know it!

By this time, about 3 weeks after my initial visit to my GP, I was beginning to feel quite uneasy.  I made the number one mistake and tried to diagnose myself using the internet.  It seemed that every page I looked at had the letters HIV on it.  Now I was really freaked out.  Every doctor I went to see was excellent, I had the best treatment I could possibly have asked for.  They all said, this is not right - but it's probably nothing to worry about!!  But all I could think about was all the men I'd been with.  Had someone infected me?  I guess my thinking was very irrational - but what else could it be?  I can't have cancer - I've not been ill, I'm young, I'm healthy and strong.  All the time the doctors kept asking me the same questions - I'd had no sudden loss of weight.  I didn't wake up with night sweats.  I hadn't been unwell.  I didn't have any itches over my body.

The ENT consultant said I must have a minor operation to remove the lymph node for a biopsy.  I stayed in overnight.  The following week was pretty uncomfortable waiting for the results.  I was told it would take a couple of weeks for the results to arrive.  Exactly one week after the operation I went back to the hospital to have the stitches removed.  My doctor sees me and says "come in here, we need to talk".

Being the positive person that I am I was sure he was gonna tell me everything was fine.  One doctor (his trainee I think) began removing the stitches one by one.  My doctor began explaining to me that if a "magic dwarf" were to come to you in the night and tell you that you are going to get cancer, but you can choose which type of cancer to have, then what I have been diagnosed with is what you should ask for!

I had been diagnosed with the "creme-de-la-creme" of cancers - Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  I remember him asking me if I have any questions.  I asked him "am I going to die?" - he laughed and said "no!"  He then told me that as far as his treatment is concerned, his job with me is finished and he was transferring me to the hemato-oncology department of the hospital.

Well at least I wasn't HIV+, so I guess being diagnosed with cancer does have a plus side to it!

That was how I was diagnosed, in my next post I'd like to explain about the treatment.  But one article I read a few months ago - sums me up to a tee.   Please find the link below and if you see something unusual on your body - don't be afraid to get it looked at!

Don't Die of Embarrassment!


  1. I had the same thing happen when I was 19. A lump in my neck I finally was brave enough to get checked out. Thyroid cancer--which happens to be another "good one to get if you must have cancer."

  2. I love the way you write and share you experiences glad you found my blog.... unfortunatly waiting for results for my daughter...not borrowing trouble yet. But like you believe attitude is everything.....Will admit wish it was me not here ... is easy to keep a good attitude when it you not a kid. I so believe in getting things check out ... and so reading you from now on ... nice to me you and thanks .... looking forward to reading more and catching up on your blog ....