Three years ago this summer I started to develop a small lump on my neck which I (bizarrely) ignored for a few months.
It was on a visit to the practice nurse at my GP about something else that the nurse noticed it and insisted I go and get it checked out.
She organised an almost immediate ultrasound and aspiration test both of which came back as negative, it was seemingly a benign lump. I was given the option of having it removed for cosmetic purposes which I decided to do.
I was referred to a surgeon and given a date for the operation a few months later, I was so laid back about it that I subsequently put the operation off for another month so I could go on holiday.
The evening before the surgery, the doctor told about all the things that could possibly go wrong.
I almost changed my mind about going through with it, thinking I could live with a lump on my neck. In the end I did have the op and when the surgeon came to see me the next day he told me everything had gone well and he wouldn’t need to see me again.
A couple of weeks later I got a phone call out of the blue from the hospital telling me that in fact the lump was thyroid cancer and I would need to come back and have my thyroid removed.
The same day my wife found out that she had breast cancer and would need a mastectomy. It wasn’t a very good day for our family.
A month later I had the second operation on my neck and was out of hospital in a couple of days. However, as it turned out, the cancer had spread into my neck tissue and I would also require an ablation treatment.
A month or so later my wife had her mastectomy and also a reconstruction which was a very long and complex operation, so much more debilitating than mine. Her illness and post op recovery certainly took my mind off my cancer.
When Susan was again able to drive several weeks after her op I had my ablation treatment, which despite what everybody said I didn’t find too bad. I had a couple of days to myself with my ipod and some books. At the time that was a bit of a luxury.
The only drawback was that in the run up to the treatment, whenever we went out to eat, I always wanted to eat the things that were on the forbidden list, especially fish and chips.
For several months after my treatment I didn’t feel too good, I got very tired and just generally felt strange.
Luckily I had sold one of my businesses before either of us was diagnosed and was able to work at the times that suited me and didn’t have to worry about money. I was very lucky in that regard.
I gradually felt better and better and was able to have thyrogen for my follow up scans which meant I avoided having to go through the biochemical havoc that lack of thyroxine in your body causes.
Both of us are well at the moment and can generally put the thought of cancer out of our minds most of the time, that is until we have our checkups, always in the same week, every six months.
The moral of this tale is don’t ever ignore a lump of any sort as you never really know what it is until it is analysed.