What do you with a rectal tumour? (sung to the tune of ‘What do you do with a drunken sailor’)

I saw my surgeon first. Having beaten myself up in the days leading up to the consult, thinking I would have months of chemo/radiation therapy he gave me the glorious news that I was booked in for surgery, and that he thought I would have to have a short course of radiation therapy beforehand.

I’m not too ashamed to admit that I cried tears of pure joy, much like Michael Jackson would shed at the beginning of each new season of Sesame Street, if he was still alive.

I left his office armed with a referral to Professor Martin, who my spies had told me was the ‘go-to man’ for all things radioactive, a spring in my step, and a frozen coke which Lyndell and I shared overlooking the beach on the way home.

Sadly, that elation was turned on it’s head when I met with Professor Martin and realised that he had a completely different view on how best to get rid of Miguel.

On an aside, Miguel is the name of my tumour. I should have mentioned that earlier but I’m catching up on posts and so have likely left various parts out. He has his own Facebook page: “Miguel Fuentes – A real pain in the Ass”. I like to think that his page is hilarious. In reality I accept that at best, it has it’s moments, and at worst, it’s pure tripe.

Anyways, back to Professor Martin. He’s a tall, lanky Kiwi (that’s a New Zealander for those who don’t know) who has great taste in cufflinks but terrible taste in sayings. He repeatedly tells me that this treatment is so brutal (and it is – we’ll get to that) so that “we can get it off your in-tray for the rest of your life”. I don’t have the heart to tell him that the cancer is in my ‘out-tray’ and if we could get it from there that would be ace.

Professor Martin is brutally honest about my condition and the corresponding treatment, which is refreshing, albeit terribly confronting. He speaks of a 98% chance of remission which in his words is “as close to a guarantee that anyone will give you, particularly an oncologist”. Unfortunately, as the cancer has already spread to my lymph nodes in my pelvis, there is an increased risk of it metastasising elsewhere, if it hasn’t already and is just too small to pick up on scans.

Sadly, really fucking sadly, my anxiety only allows me to focus on the latter, and the fact that I’m looking at a long haul battle instead of a nice “zap and chop”. Instead, Prof Martin has me looking at weeks of chemo and radiation, surgery, and then more chemo.

He refers me to see a medical oncologist, Dr Van Der Westhuizen, who will go through my treatment plan in more detail.

Dr Van der Westhuizen is a lovely, softly spoken South African fellow. Our first interaction involves him apologising for a minute or so, and then confirming what his oncology registrar (a crazy South American woman – more on her in a moment) had previously told me, that is, they intended to poison me, well principally Miguel, to a level which wouldn’t kill me, but that would make death look like a decent alternative. He smiled apologetically and left.

I can’t remember the name of the oncology registrar at the moment, other than her first name was Giovanna. I am truly grateful, and somewhat perplexed by her presence, all at the same time. Every time she spoke, I imagined Sophia Vergara from ‘Modern Family’. It is hard to get upset when describing your anxiety levels to a woman whose questions are asked with such gusto. Nevertheless, I still managed some tears. I figured she deserved them after all her years of study…

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