Diagnosed with tongue cancer! (Fri, 15 February 2013 – 19:07:54)
I’m not sure where to start, so I guess I will start with the beginning of this year!!! On the 4th January 2013, I recall having a huge headache. It was like a migraine but somehow different – I just wanted to hide in the dark and stay perfectly still. I decided to put D (my 2-year-old daughter) down for her nap early and have a lie down! The next day was my birthday. I was turning 30 and I felt shocking, my head still banging and, rather worryingly, exactly half of my tongue had become numb. I just plodded on, as you do when you’re a mummy. By Sunday, two days after the initial headache, I knew I had to see a doctor and it had to be that day. Something wasn’t right. I was alone with the kids as hubby was stuck on guard.
So, off I went to the out of hours service in Peterborough. I was rather surprised to be seen straight away, but just thought it was a bit of a bonus. I was in there for what felt like ages and she said I think you have had a TIA (a mini stroke) and ordered me to go to PCH (the local hospital ). I’m pretty sure they didn’t realise I had driven myself to the hospital (and my two kids) but they didn’t tell me I couldn’t drive. So, I drove to PCH, not realising how seriously they were taking things. Well, at least not until I was met at the door of A & E by a lady who introduced herself as “the specialist stroke nurse”. “Bloody brilliant,” I thought! But I also thought “I’m far too young and I have had so much go wrong with my body so far it won’t be that, or anything serious” (doh).
While there, I phoned my parents and asked that they come up (they live 25 minutes away) as I needed someone to keep an eye on the children while I had scans etc. I didn’t want to phone hubby who was on guard duty, as I know it’s a pain in the arse arranging cover and getting people in. And, maybe I was also in denial about things. My parents came, but they had called hubby!! I was less than impressed. I mean, of course I was going to call him, but I didn’t want him unnecessarily worried and rushing away from work when my parents, in theory, could just help out for a while. Well, that was my logic!
My mum is a tiny 5ft 1” with a slim build. My Dad is 6ft 1” with broad shoulders but a slim build. He is ex-military and you can tell. When he walks into a room, you feel pretty sure you’ve done something wrong. He’s not one for emotions, he prefers computers rather than people, well, that’s what I think.
So, when my parents showed up and got the kids almost immediately, they were asked to leave by a doctor so that he could speak to me and G, my hubby who had also arrived. Mum was pretty pissed off by this time, I think.
The doctor explained to G and I that the scans were inconclusive, and we were told it was probably a TIA. I was referred to a neurologist and sent home to rest and wait for my appointments. In the meantime, I really struggled to eat but still managed to joke about being on the best diet ever! I had lost over a stone in less than a month!! Although, I could afford to lose another three stone before worrying too much. I also kept biting my tongue and I had a weird bump on my tongue which I thought was from biting it. As you do, I googled it and Google diagnosed tongue cancer which had a 50% survival rate!!!
That was it. I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt. I had the neurology appointment on the 24th January. At that appointment, I told her I thought I had tongue cancer and that I was a smoker, so I deserved it. I also told her that I didn’t want to die until my daughter was old enough to remember me. Who knows why I chose that to be my only reason? If I’m honest, that thought was something that petrified me.
The neurologist referred me to the Head and Neck unit at Peterborough City Hospital who I saw on the 5th February 2013. I was told the lump was probably nothing, just where I had bitten my tongue, but they would take a biopsy!! The biopsy was carried out a few days later.
The biopsy appointment was a very odd set up. I was in a dentist chair and there was the doctor and two nurses in the room. One nurse’s job was to pull out my tongue and pull it to the left so that the doctor could see the sore. The doctor said, “This is going to hurt a bit” as she injected the numbing injections. NOTHING! I felt nothing – not the needle and not the sting of it going in. I couldn’t help but think, “this is bad!” The doctor sewed me up with three stitches. I said, “It’s cancer, I know it.” She smiled and said, “It doesn’t look like a typical cancer and you’re not a 70-year-old man who chews tobacco so, it’s extremely unlikely. But we will see you on the 13th.” Off I went and I just knew it. I was numb. I don’t remember day or night. I was a robot waiting for the appointment.
I went in on the 13th February 2013 for my results. G and the kids were with me. They called my name and I said to G, “just stay with kids, I will go in alone”. I stood up and started walking towards the room and the nurse said, “You should have him with you.” BANG. It hit me. I KNEW it was bad and I knew it was VERY BAD. There were about six people in the room.
Mr Moss said, “As you know, we did the biopsy and I’m told you were convinced it was cancer. You have a cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.”
My immediate reaction was “Get my beeping kids out of here! I do not want them hearing this!” The next 10 minutes were a blur. I was given forms and leaflets and told that the condition is like skin cancer but on the tongue and we wouldn’t know more until we had more tests done.