We were torn between being impressed and grateful (not to mention amazed) that the specialist would find the time and a bit depressed because no-one ever wants a doctor to want to see them quickly. In the CU every patient seems to be seen as a priority, which is brilliant except that no-one wants to be seeing a doctor about cancer.
Dr Inscrutable patiently explained to us that Husband has extra nodal NHL and that by a process of elimination it is splenic. Husband, being practically inclined, asked if the spleen could be removed. We were told that it wasn’t an option because the report from the MRI scan said the liver was involved so there would be no point. My heart sank – I’d done enough reading to know that that was a bit of a blow.
Dr Inscrutable reminded us more than once that the cancer wasn’t curable but that it was indolent and that with treatment Husband could hope for a remission of 2-5 years, after which the cancer would return and could be treated again.
Dr Inscrutable asked if we’d like a second opinion – another view on treatment options. We didn’t want him to get the impression that we doubted him but he said it’s not uncommon for them to ask for second opinions. Apparently Husband has a rare cancer, considerably rarer again in someone of his (relatively young) age. There’s a Lymphoma Board which meets weekly to discuss unusual cases and Husband’s details can be sent to them. Apparently it’s a multi disciplinary team of experts who get together to discuss cases from all angles. Great stuff. Yes, please.
We made our way back to the car, silently processing what we’d been told. Husband managed to walk very naturally up to a Macmillan table with literature about all sorts of cancer-related things. Boy he’s dealing with this well. The volunteer smiled warmly, asked if we were looking for anything in particular and gave us lots of space. I still felt shell-shocked, standing to one side, watching my erstwhile ridiculously healthy husband browse through the cancer brochures. Volunteer lady came up to me with her lovely natural ‘could not offend anyone’ smile, put her hand on my arm and said, “Remember one thing: not everything in the leaflets applies to you.” Simple advice but I kept repeating it to myself and found it really helpful.