When I was first diagnosed with lymphoma my oncologist said to me, “Whatever you do, don’t stop paying the insurance.” All along the way it has made a difference about choices available and speed. Ideally all this should be available to everyone but we pay a hefty premium each month. Again that is our choice.
The journey to Central London yesterday was much easier than I anticipated and the Marsden has 26 parking bays in the road at the rear of the main part of the hospital reserved for patients and we were lucky enough to be able to use one. My CT scan showing a section of my head and throat was already on the screen when I went into the room to meet Mr C. He seems to be a pleasant, experienced and efficient consultant. He thinks, like three of the other consultants, that the lymph nodes I can feel – including the prominent ones in my neck – have been affected both by the GVHD infection and the higher levels of the immunosuppressantt drugs I have been taking.
Like Dr P. , he thinks that the mass in the throat really needs looking at. I could see it on the scan clearly in the epiglottal region. This has to be examined to see if it shows signs of mantle cell lymphoma. Mr. C said I would need a biopsy under general anaesthetic and that the Royal Marsden was fully booked, so he offered me the option of having the operation done at the Cromwell Hospital, London, on Tuesday. Even then it will be at least a week after the biopsy to receive the results as the tissue has to be examined at the Royal Marsden. Nevertheless, this is as quick as it gets.
We accepted right away even before examining the logistics. The operation is due between 8 and 9 a.m. so I must arrive at the Cromwell Hospital by 7.30 a.m. Ray is running a course on Monday and Tuesday – cancer/lymphoma is a very expensive business so I shall have to use public transport. As a result, it means first class rail travel and staying overnight with Jonathan on the Monday and Tuesday so that Ray can come and fetch me on Wednesday.
Fortunately, the consultants I have met so far have all been very experienced and they do try not to give too much information in a situation which is uncertain. I am in limbo at the moment but I am in good hands. The world of transplants, as I have learned, is an uncertain one. So many diseases are helped by bone marrow transplants, many of which I know nothing about and every patient’s pathology is different so all the consultants, however experienced, are working at the forefront of current knowledge. Without the transplant I would, no doubt, be already dead. I have had months of extra life and I am hoping that I have a future.