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.