I saw the tumour, dominant in its pink tunnel, before I realised what I was looking at. I blame the sedation that made me feel that mellow way you do after 3 large G&Ts. I just watched the surgeon manipulate some kind of sampling tool, digging into the mass that looked a little like a winter pile of dirty rock salt. He seemed to struggle to get anything out, as the lump resisted his device.

I was in Neath & Port Talbot Hospital for a colonoscopy having lived through a few months of bowel pain, pointless diets and ineffective painkillers. I first became uncomfortable in December 2021, with excruciating trapped wind that I couldn’t seem to shift with any meds. The painkillers I took to numb it only made me constipated, which of course added to the fun.

At this point the potential diagnosis was colitis, an inflammation of parts of the bowel, something that can be helped by having a low fibre, bland diet. This just made me more prone to constipation. As part of the investigations, I also completed a bowel cancer screening, “Just to rule cancer out,” said the Doctor. When the results eventually turned up, they revealed that there was blood in my stool. An appointment for a colonoscopy soon followed.

There I was, camera up my rear passage, looking in dazed fashion at the screen that the surgeon was using to guide his actions. The four doctors/nurses around me were chatting about what was happening, but that conversation just registered as background noise. I stared at the salty mass and failed to register that this thing was in my colon.

Twenty minutes later I was in recovery and had been asked to get Dinah to come and get me. It didn’t register at all that this was so the surgeon could talk about what he had found to both of us because the news was not good. Maybe this was denial, maybe I was still a little sedated. I just went along with it all. Another half an hour later, bloods completed and back in the ward, we waited for the surgeon.

With the title above, what he told us will come as no surprise to you. I don’t think it did to me, I’m not sure I took it in. They never used the word cancer, just tumour. “The size of a golf ball,” he said, “I found it difficult to get the camera past.” We held hands and listened. More tests would follow, a CT scan in short order, before all the results went to the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) two weeks later.

I’m not sure quite what I feel about this. Dinah is struggling emotionally, but I seem calm. It’s not that I don’t feel anything, I am definitely more edgy and tire easily, but I haven’t felt any strong emotion like fear or anger yet. They’ll be on their way soon enough, I guess. Meanwhile, I thought I would start supporting myself by writing this on a regular basis and creating photos to accompany and process the feelings.

It’s now a little over a week since the colonoscopy. New meds have resolved my pain. I’m also back eating a normal diet and bowel movements are regular. Hurrah! However, after the CT scan they moved my MDT forward a week, I’m not sure that’s a good sign. We’ll be finding out very soon.

16th March 2022

14 replies
  1. Lisa Scourfield
    Lisa Scourfield says:

    Sorry to hear this Lee I’ll be following your story, stay positive it’s just amazing what can be done these days. Good to hear you’re new meds are addressing the pain and you can go Keep smiling X

    Reply
  2. Rob Howells
    Rob Howells says:

    Good blog mate.
    Just realising that it’s just as much a bombshell for Dinah as it is for you (not to mention your kids, family and friends.
    Take care old friend x

    Reply
  3. Clive Prosser
    Clive Prosser says:

    Really sorry to hear this Lee. I know that you will take the same positive approach that you have taken to evrything since I have known you. Thinking of you my friend.

    Reply
  4. mary
    mary says:

    sorry to hear your bad news Lee. Great thing is you have your mindfulness practice to help you through this difficult time. Really enjoyed your exhibition and love your take on things. I’m presently studying an MA photography and enjoying it emmensely. If you have time and need some escapism to forget what’s going on in your body – then I can suggest looking at contemporary photographers like Jo Spence who deals with illness. There are others but cant seem to think right now. Keep us posted and I would recommend you keep photographing your journey – it’s always an inspiration to others going through similar.

    Reply
  5. leshall
    leshall says:

    Hey Lee. I went down some Fuji rabbit hike and ended up in a WordPress app and then your name was there and I go “I know that guy” and then I read the post and thought WTF.

    Sounds like you’re in good hands and are going to be fine. I think writing about it is a really good idea.

    I had cancer back in 2013 and it helped a lot you write, especially when I was high as a kite on painkillers! Another thing I did was not look up my condition on the internet. Eva did all that. Most people who post in forums about their condition are whiners ;). We’re winners right?

    Drop me an email off you want.

    Les.

    Reply

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