Where to start.
I suppose it starts here.
‘I want to make sure you have good support’ Mr K is saying. His words feel strange. Like they’re floating in the air in a strange order. I’m not sure I understand. What is he saying? What is he not saying?
‘Deepti (my other surgeon, if you remember. My best friend) wanted to be here but she couldn’t…’ He continues. ‘She wanted to be the one to talk to you. I want to make sure that aside from surgical stuff, you are being supported.’
Why is he saying this?
I’m being obtuse aren’t it.
I snap out of it.
‘It’s cancer isn’t it.’
‘There is disease, yes.’
‘You mean cancer.’
‘Fuck………………… What’s the plan. Tell me you have a plan.’
‘I do. I do have a plan. But it’s not going to be easy. Going in again…’
Sooooo he sends me off to get a needle stuck in my neck.
The specialist nurse walks me over to the biopsy. He’s still calling it a scan.
‘I’m not super keen about having a needle stuck in my neck but cool.’ I laugh.
He doesn’t reply.
And it is a needle being stuck in my neck. They say they don’t think there’s anything to worry about, cancer wise, but it’s good to check. They give me local anaesthetic and then they go in. They prod around for a while. I have a little cry into the bench thing they’ve got me lying on. They get confused why I’m crying. I tell them it’s probably because they’re sticking an unsolicited needle in my neck. They don’t really understand.
Then suddenly it hurts. It really hurts. I say ow. I say ow ow ow.
They say ‘I’m so sorry, that was my fault. I’m sorry. Get it out get it out!’
They hurriedly pull the needle out then they scan my neck with the ultrasound to see if I’m bleeding out into my neck.
She apologises many more times.
That’s not supposed to happen, you see. It’s just that every time they try to stick a needle into my gland, my gland runs away.
Yeah well it probably doesn’t like a needle being stuck into it, does it.
They try again and this time they succeed after a while.
It hurts. It really hurts. 6 hours later it still hurts.
I go back to see Mr K to get the details.
So the cancer has come back. And it is aggressive. Really aggressive. It is huge. I look at it in the scan. It looks like it takes up the whole of the bottom of my eye socket. The whole of my cheekbone. I wonder how much of my face I will lose. My cheek? My nose? My brow? My eye? Will I be able to talk? Sing? See?
We look at the previous scans. The one in September, the mass is tiny. A little blip. But the one last week, it is huge. In less than 6 weeks it has gone mad. Taken over. No wonder there’s pain. No wonder I can’t see out of that eye properly.
He informs me that the eye will go.
He says it in such a quiet voice that I lean forward to try and catch what he is saying. Like the snippets are flying out into the room and I need to grab them before they’re gone forever.
I will lose my eye on Monday. My right eye.
‘But what about the structure of my face?’ I say tentatively, worrying that he will think I’m glossing over the information he just gave me.
‘You shouldn’t. You will lose one implant (the infected one. Yep there’s an infection too) and the eye, but the structure of your face should stay.’
I will keep my teeth. I will keep my nose. My cheekbone? It doesn’t sound like it will threaten my singing…
An eye? I’ve got two. I’ve met people who have survived with one eye.
The thing is, I thought about this last week. When I went in for the biopsy. I thought, it’s cancer. Of course it is, why wouldn’t it be. It’s a lump in my face where I had cancer. Of course it’s back. I can hope for an infection, but why on earth would it be that. It’s cancer. I’ll lose my eye.
I mourned it for a moment. I cried. And then I thought of my favourite character (High King Margo) in a TV show I love (The Magicians).
If she can rock it……….
I showed Mr K this photo and said it’s giving me inspiration. I thought it would make him smile, break the sorrow I saw across his face. But it had the opposite effect.
He wasn’t happy. He told me not to be sarcastic. He told me not to make jokes. He wasn’t smiling, he was disappointed in me.
I tried to tell him it was about the only thing that was helping me to keep it together right now, I am so, so serious. This is giving me hope.
I’m not sure he saw it that way and we parted ways. For now.
I can take it in any way I like, see? I’m the one it’s happening to. However I react is right for me. I know it wasn’t easy for him to give me that news. I know how hard he took it. He doesn’t want this any more than I do.
I need him to take it seriously. If he doesn’t get inspiration from the same things I do, that’s ok. He’s the one going into battle on Monday. He’s the one who has to make it happen. He’s the one who needs to get me through. My life, once again, in his capable hands. (And he clearly doesn’t watch SciFi TV shows…)
But here we are.
On Friday I go in to be consented for the surgery.
On Sunday I go in to prepare for surgery.
On Monday I lose my right eye.
And hopefully also the cancer.
It’s hard to have confidence that they will be able to get it out, because obviously history is not great on that. But you’ve got to have hope, don’t you. If you don’t have hope, what do you have?