Wednesday, 14 May 2008

The Cancer Chronicles. Part 1

I've made the odd reference throughout this blog to the fact that I have had cancer but with a whole new audience now, and judging by some recent comments, I guess some of you didn't know. Which kind of ties in with a growing need in me to write down the whole story. Not for any reason other than it should be chronicled somewhere. It's certainly not for sympathy, I couldn't deal with that then and there's no need for it now. But maybe there's someone out there somewhere going through what I went through and it might just be helpful to them too. Perhaps, more to the point, it's a cathartic exercise I need to banish the ghosts so that I can look back on it in 20 years time and think "yes, I did get through that".

I will do this in installments because it will make for much too long a post otherwise. The first part doesn't really deal with the cancer at all but is connected, albeit tenuously, and I think it's important to include it.

The story starts back in 1992. I lived with a chap we shall call Fred. Fred was a highly intelligent drunk. Life with him was not easy. He was fine until he had one drink and then he could not stop until he passed out. I lost count of the number of times I had to try and pick him up off the bathroom floor and haul his ass into bed. He was kind enough in his own way but, even when sober, he could get verbally abusive. You know that consistent digging away at your confidence and judgement? It finally reached the point where I lacked any confidence in myself and truly believed I was as stupid as he told me I was.

Three years into our relationship, I started to lose weight. But I was in happy as a pig in clover! For the first time in years I was back in a size 10 (US 8) and looking trim. I had energy in spades yet slept the sleep of the dead. Unfortunately, Fred had received some basic medical training as part of his science degree and over the ensuing months diagnosed me with any number of diseases, the worst of which was stomach cancer. You can see the positive effect he had on my psyche can't you?

Winter rolled into summer and I can remember what happened next as clear as day. I was sitting in profile to Fred and he suddenly exclaimed "What's wrong with your neck!?". What on earth was he on about now?

"It's all swollen"

He was right. How could I have not noticed that?

"I know what's wrong with you" he said. "You have an overactive thyroid."

I do? Well, OK, at least that was better than stomach cancer.

I made an appointment with my doctor and explained about this goitre on my neck.......

(Image courtesy of Google)

...and how Fred thought it was an overactive thyroid. Annoyingly, she agreed and sent me off for blood tests. In the meantime, Fred remembered he had private health cover so my GP arranged for me to see a consultant privately within a few days.

Having seen the blood test results, she too agreed and started me on medication to control the hyperthyroidism. She also gave me some sage advice. She said "Your hormones are going to be all over the place so my advice to you is not to make any radical life-changing decisions until you are somewhere nearer to normal...don't dump your boyfriend, change your job or move house".

I did all three.

To be continued....


  1. I was just getting into the story and you leave me wanting more. Well that's good story telling!~ when is the next installment?

  2. Later this week or over the weekend hopefully Chris!

  3. I'm looking forward to hearing more of your story too. And yes, I totally understand what it's like to live with someone who constantly chips away at your self esteem. I was married to one.

  4. Do I need to beg for more ? In all seriousness, I think yours will be a "success" story and I am looking forward to hearing it. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I'm glad you are sharing the story. I already had a blog when I got diagnosed so was able to write about it as I went through it.

    Waiting for the next chapter.

  6. One of my dearest friends was diagnosed with a brain tumor on Friday last, had surgery Tuesday, and today got the news that it's a Glioblastoma grade 4. I'm glad to be able to share that here. I'll be glad to be able to read your story, even though the two stories will have nothing in common. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  7. P.S. I'm feeling pretty sad tonight. But when I catch my silly little book on your book list, it always makes a surprised simple half smile sprout on my old face. Thanks for that.

  8. I started to say you had a pretty goiter.. and then I saw the compliments of google. ha.

    Well.. I'm sure this is going to be a difficult series to write.

  9. Fred sounds all too familiar. How is it that so many of us have either lived with or married him?

  10. I'm looking forward to the next installment. Love the last line, that's my girl.

  11. Wow. I'm shocked to hear you've had cancer. How traumatic. I hope sharing your story will indeed be cathartic for you and helpful to others.

    And as for you "doing all three"? I have a feeling we're in for a bumpy ride!


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