Friday, October 04, 2019

Last year

On September 26 last year, at a routine gynaecological scan, a doctor found two tumours growing on my ovaries. Each was over 10cm across. She told me, given my age, that the chances of me having ovarian cancer were very high and that the chances of it not having spread, given the size of the tumours, were tiny. My world spun off in an instant to a parallel universe.

I waited two weeks for a CT scan to confirm the size of the tumours and whether I was riddled with cancer. That was 336 sleepless hours with my greatest demons sitting on the end of my bed watching over me. I then waited all of October and two weeks of November for emergency surgery. The surgery went well but I developed several infections and by the time I finally received a non-cancerous diagnosis fully two months of utter hell had passed. I can tell you, at the age of 50, with young children, waiting on your phone to ring then mustering the courage to pick it up when you know the person on the other end is phoning to tell you if you are dying or if you might get to spend the rest of your kids' childhoods on this planet takes some balls, even if I say so myself. As your insides fall out, you try to answer nonchalantly as if it's the most normal phone call in the world. Leanne, the nurse who rings you up, is doing an incredible job. I had to go through that call once, she has to make that call every day over and over. Whatever they are paying her it isn't enough. A more kind, caring and wonderful person is hard to imagine. Of course, having spent nearly three weeks in hospital, I had befriended the other women on the ward who were on the same journey as me, except they weren't... Leanne had different news for them when she rang that day. I was the lucky one who won the lottery, the only lucky one, but it left mental scars that will never heal and life will always be a bit more fragile now.

So why mention this now, other than it being the anniversary? It suddenly struck me this morning that this will be some other woman's reality now, today. The NHS has fewer nurses now than a year ago - EU nurses coming to the UK have dropped by 90% in a year. It has fewer consultants - one of Glasgow's top oncologist gynaecological surgeons, who operated on the forty-year-old mother in the next bed to me and who was diagnosed at stage 3 that morning, has left. There are more vacancies and medicine shortages are potentially 27 days away. Mentally, I barely survived what I went through last autumn. Going through surgery waiting for a cancer diagnosis while this government is playing power games with CT isotopes and chemo drugs would have broken me altogether. It is unforgivable. I am safely now under another health system, but there are women in Scotland who got my diagnosis last week and they are about to embark on a roller coaster ride no one should ever have to go on.

That anyone can vote for the current government scares me witless.

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