Picking up the next part of the story – Thursday, 15 October
Despite the difficult day previously, I was in very good spirits. I had been reassured by Doctor S and his explanation of my test results. And even more so I was in good spirits because the first of my family visits was imminent. Daughter H had already left Scotland and was on her way to Bangkok. She was due to arrive on Thursday morning and had many clear instructions on how to find our place.
And indeed, Thursday morning did arrive and so did H and A. Because of the length of the flight and overnight travel they had a little rest and then we gently looked round the local area as they settled in. In the evening I of course had the planned visits to see Doctor W. This was a really good opportunity for H to see for herself and be reassured about my medical treatment and the hospital.
First I had to visit the ward and H was able to see with our own eyes the wonderful hospital and its facilities. Then we had to see Doctor W, my nervousness growing as I was unsure if today would be the day Doctor W would try to take out my stitches. Ouch! I was determined I would not remind him just in case he forgot. H had different plans and she was prepared to ask any questions which she felt necessary.
Doctor W knew that H was planning to come and for him it was pleasant as he had trained in Scotland. He said he was happy to hear her Scottish accent. Clearly my Scottish accent doesn’t work!
I was duly examined, dressings changed and Doctor W started to talk about my treatment plan now that the test results were back. He was keen that we start chemotherapy sooner rather than later. This was a little bit of a surprise to me as I had got it into my head that chemo would be started approximately a month after the surgery to allow for healing time. This was less than two weeks after the big cuts. Doctor W explained that he would not the administering the chemo but that his colleague, an oncologist and another Doctor W. I’ll call him Doctor W2. A quick phone call was made and while I was still on the examination couch I heard what I can only describe as a grand entrance. Doctor W2 had arrived!
What I missed however, was his doubletake when he saw H sitting at the doctor’s desk. He had assumed that she was the patient, and did an automatic, shall we say, inventory of her assets. He was clearly taken aback that she had a complete set! H realised what had happened and explained that her mother was the patient and that she was on the couch through the curtain. He was clearly relieved when he realised that I had indeed had the major surgery which he had been looking for on H!
He examined me fully, and then asked me to consult with him after my appointment with Doctor W.
He explained to me that because 6 out of the 15 lymph nodes had been affected, he was keen to begin the chemotherapy course as soon as possible. He also explained that it would be 8 courses of treatment administered at three-week intervals. A quick calculation revealed how long this course of treatment would last – nearly 6 months. This would be followed by a six week radiation course and then a course of hormonal treatment. I can only say that this felt like an incredibly long and difficult process, and although the rational side completely understands the necessity for this, the emotional side felt quite overwhelmed and incredibly frightened.
He went on to explain that it would be useful to insert what he called “a port” which would make it much easier to administer the chemotherapy every time. Chemotherapy is given intravenously and it can be very tough on the veins without a port. He proposed to place the port the following week. Once the port was in place he planned to start the chemotherapy immediately.
I left the hospital that evening with mixed feelings. Some relief that things were progressing and I was healing from the major surgery. Fear had prominence however, as the reality sank in of the immediacy of the forthcoming treatment coupled with another albeit very minor surgery in the very near future.
I had something else as I left the hospital that evening. In my hand I had another appointment slip, but this time for the Saturday. This could only mean one thing — I had a whole day off from the hospital! Cause for celebration!