We arrived at the specialist clinic in good time, along with about three hundred other people with the same 2.15pm appointment, but we were different, we were younger by about fifty years for a kick off and we were carrying an eight week old baby. I remember thinking neither would be the case if this queue doesn’t speed up. I was ageing fast and the baby would soon be starting school!
Eventually our time came, I went into the consultation room alone, thinking I could ask dumb questions if I was alone. The Specialist popped his head in and asked if anyone was with me. He wanted my partner to be present and said he would be back in a few minutes. The nurse called her in from the waiting room and she took up position standing at the bottom of the examination table with the baby in her arms.
We exchanged puzzled looks and then the doctor and nurse returned. I remember vividly his reaction when he saw my partner and new baby son in the room. He asked if we knew who he was and if anyone had told me why I was here. We both said no, much to his dismay, as he suggested my partner take a seat. Perhaps it was a ‘fight or flight’ reaction that suddenly hit her but she refused his offer, assuring him she and the baby fine, after all we’d been sitting in his overcrowded waiting room for an eternity! “I’d prefer to stand” she said.
I can’t remember the exact words he used other than cancer was in there somewhere as he explained what was wrong with me. I do remember he said something about going to a hospital in Leeds for treatment. Unfortunately I do remember exactly what I said when he asked if we’d any questions, “how long will I be off work?” I don’t think he expected that. Either I hadn’t heard a word he’d said or I was the most conscientious person he’d ever met. I knew it was neither, it wasn’t the first time and certainly wouldn’t be the last time I’d feel out of my depth in the world of Oncology.