All Coming Together


It’s as if the all-clear is a catalyst for everything else to fall into place. My ears start to make cracking sounds and I discover if I hold my nose and blow, my ears clear for brief periods of time. Slowly but surely, my hearing returns to normal and my eyesight becomes sharper. Also, the patch on the back of my head goes from being smooth to having some fluffy down on it. Soon the hair thickens and then grows back. The new hair is a darker colour and looks like a target on my head, but I cannot have everything. I spend the following alternate months with consultations between Dr Gavaghan and Mr Harker at The Royal Marsden Hospital. I’m nervous each and every time, but they consistently give me a clean bill of health. The results of CT scans are equally good and I can start to think about the future.

I have a consultation with Mr Harker close to the one-year mark from diagnosis. Both he and a nurse stand when I knock on the door. He shakes my hand and is smiling.

“It’s VERY good to see you,” he says.

“Thanks, it’s nice to see you again,” I reply.

He motions for me to sit down. There is an awkward silence.

“No, you don’t understand. It’s good to see you because I don’t often get to see patients this far down the road.”

Then it dawns on me. Most of the patients with nasal cancer must be dead within a year. I don’t know what to say, but Mr Harker and the nurse look pleased. He checks me over and says everything is still clear. I thank him and say goodbye as he says “Well done.”

I talk to Mr Hogan a few weeks later, who is seeing Lucy and Jack for a consultation. He discusses how well I’m looking.

“You said everything was okay twice before I was diagnosed with cancer,” I say, looking him in the eye.

“Yes, but I listened to you,” he replies.

Those words hit me and I realise that not all consultants actually listen to their patients. I’ve heard stories of doctors ignoring or not correctly diagnosing the symptoms of patients, who end up having a cancer that’s not spotted quickly enough to save their lives. Mr Hogan listened to me and, as a result, diagnosed my cancer early, which was a huge factor in saving my life.

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