There are a few things I've been thinking in the run up to my most recent and indeed next hospital visits (CT scan of the thorax, consultant appointment and then multi-discipline team appointment). Not all of them are entirely sensible.......
I've been working my way through Macmillan Cancer Support's information pages and videos - their radiotherapy video is really quite good if you ignore the fact the gentleman speaking has one of those monotone voices you have to force yourself to concentrate on. Whilst being informative about how the treatment is performed and reassuring in a lot of ways, it also threw up something I'd never seen before:
(Image from headandneckcancerpatient.com)
For those who like me are unaware of what this might be, it's a radiotherapy mask for the head and neck which prevents you from moving during the treatment, thus allowing the alignment of the x-ray beams to remain correct for each session. Unfortunately, this was not the first thing my brain thought of. Oh no, not even close.
My brain saw that and went "My word, they're creating Cybermen!"
I have also concluded during this research that if after five to eight weeks of having high energy xray beams fired into my face I'm not some sort of all-powerful sorcerer, then I shall be most upset and someone will probably deserve a slap.
You may disagree, but it seems like a reasonable trade-off to me.
Two of the available dates were Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. My consultant says nobody is queuing up for those dates. One simply cannot imagine why not.
I've said I'll take New Year's Eve if it's still available. I don't drink, and I'm usually tired enough to want to be in bed before midnight, which knocks most of the point out of New Year's Eve gatherings when you think about it. It does unfortunately mean that I'll be starting 2015 with a stay in hospital. Whilst that's not a particularly winning start to a year, on the flip side it does get the treatment started and the worst part out of the way sooner rather than later.
As for the inevitable post-surgical scarring? Well, it should knit reasonably well and fade to a degree over time, and I'm blessed with very large hair to hide it behind. Still, there will be a visible scar on my face and neck.
..... I am totally telling everyone I got it being a part-time dragonslayer.
Say it with me: "Perspective"
Whatever's happening to you at this point in time, the situation could always be worse.
("Excuse me, were you going to say "worse"?")
My initial reaction to all this was of course the loss-of-stomach sensation following the words "I'm sorry, but the tumour is almost certainly cancerous". I'm not for a minute suggesting this won't have a huge impact on my life going forwards, but there were definitely positives to draw on.
If you could pick a "good" cancer, out of a catalogue if you will, then you could make a worse choice than one of the parotid gland. The cure and survival rates are very high indeed, and it's immensely treatable. In my own case they have caught the tumour very early and up to press it hasn't spread. Of the two evils, radiotherapy is certainly the lesser in terms of side effects and impact upon day to day life when compared to chemotherapy.
I won't be losing my hair - a fact for which I am immeasurably grateful as I strongly suspect that would have been the thing that floored me. My employer has been amazing and I've been very teary with the response, supportive messages and just general kindess people have shown in response to the news. I am aware there are those who are not so fortunate.
Perspective is ineed a very good thing.
No matter what Joffrey's doing, a certain four-legged someone will still wake me up at a somewhat unsociable hour because he wants a cuddle before demanding I get up and provide breakfast, For Fiddler, life continues as normal.
(Our cat is just the most adorable little boy. Even before 5am when I'd really rather he didn't try and sleep curled round my neck)
Wishing you all many spoons xxx