What a statement, and that coming from an oncologist!
2004 was not a particularly remarkable year. Two thirds of the way through I sacked my surgeon, retained my radiation oncologist and found myself in the hands of a medical oncologist. Somewhat of a surfeit of oncologists that year – nothing remarkable about that.
That year I decided that the Good Lord was clearly an architect and not a plumber. Only an architect would run the main drain something that could enlarge and block things. Any plumber will tell you that they have a machine that goes up drains and unblocks – ouch!! That was not the reason I sacked the surgeon – he was a good plumber but had the people skills of a demented cockatoo.
My first surgeon was a wonderful gentle person with great people skills. Listened carefully, took into account what you told him, considered your lifestyle and situation before proposing treatment. Unfortunately he died of cancer and when the drain stopped flowing I had to find another one in a hurry.
Two years before I had been to see gentle man on Easter Thursday, clutching a CT scan, vomiting, hallucinating and in pain. The vomiting and hallucinating were from pills the GP had prescribed to cover the pain while I had a scan and got to see the specialist. It was then I fully realized how I just don’t do opiates. But, there it was – a big ugly lump of tumour pushing up and blocking off the kidney. Result, excruciating, paralysing pain, too awful to want to remember.
Chemo to shrink the tumour then my radiation oncologist judges me to be suitable for experimental treatment. Seventy hours flat on my back connected to a machine that danced a tarantella to a drum beat every-hour. People came in and fussed over that machine. Checked all its inner workings. Made sure that the ‘hot’ bit of it was safely in its lead kennel, except when it was in me. Then it was running up and down the tubes inserted under anaesthetic that had worn off. They had put me out to it, to wake up later in this pale room, hooked up, an extension of a machine. When the machine did its drum beat was when the lead lined walls of the gated room ensured that I kept my own company. Nurses, faithful nurses came and rolled me every fours hours and rubbed my back and bum with lotion. Sometimes the gentle night nurse would use baby powder – sensuous and soothing. Bags of fluid ran into my veins and out through other tubes into a drainage bag. Volumes in and out carefully recorded for posterity
Specialists had dreamed this up, computers had done calculations, technicians had set it up, nurses had been trained, physiotherapists had advised – a team had worked and planned this - for me!
Two years later demented cockatoo had ordered another scan which eventually found its way to my radiation oncologist. The big ugly lump of tumour was no more, disappeared, vanished, as if it had never existed.
Sailor, you are remarkable, was the comment. No I was not remarkable, but that team of people were – everyone of them.
If you want to build a boat, do not instruct the men to saw wood, stitch the sails, prepare the tools and organize the work, but make them long for setting sail and travel to distant lands.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.