You can’t unring a bell

So they sent me o have a CT scan to see if my cancer is localised in the esophagus or if it has started to spread. That was Tuesday.

Then we were summoned back to see the good professor for the results of the scan. Jo, Becca and I made the trip over to the city to see him yesterday afternoon. It was a beautiful, sunny spring afternoon.

To quote the Professor, the results were “not great.” I’ve been carrying copies of the scans around in by bag since Tuesday, but couldn’t bring myself to look at them. I figured I wouldn’t know what I was looking at, or for anyhow.

So here’s the thing. I apparently have en enlarged lymph node in my chest. It’s not definitive, but apparently a strong indicator that the cancer is traveling. There is a “slim” outside chance that the enlarged gland could be unconnected, and the only way to know for sure is a procedure to remove a tissue sample for testing. We’re told that will happen in a week or so. Th doctor calmly and quietly explains that if the cancer has spread, then surgery is no longer an option. “So what are the options?” I ask.

“Chemo” were told.

“And can that cure me?” I ask. I think I already know the answer to this one. “No. It’s more designed to enhance length and quality of life” he says looking at his hands.

It takes a few seconds to process this information. He’s telling me I’m doomed. I’ve been telling myself that for several days now, but it’s not the same as hearing it from an Associate Professor of Gastroenterology is it? Naturally, we’d all been holding out for some good news, a chink of light. A little hope. Jo began to sob quietly.

I figure this is my chance to drop in my big line. “So how long have I got then?”

The prof leans back in his chair and spreads his hands. “How long is a piece of string?”he sighs.  I size up the piece of metaphorical strong. It doesn’t look very long. “Worse Case Scenario, a few months. Best case, one or two years.”

To late I realize you have to be careful what questions you ask.

You can’t unring a bell.

The meeting drags on for a few more minutes. Becca sits pale, beautiful and composed across the desk from the doctor. She calmly asks some questions. I can’t remember what. I’m so proud of her. She was magnificent.

“Your really not giving us much to work with here” I said pleadingly. “I’m sorry the news isn’t better” he replied. And that was it. We stood and I shook hands with the Prof. I told him he was a rotten doctor.

He agreed.

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