I arrived home and began to organise myself for admission. I had lists everywhere of whom I needed to contact to give them the news I had cancer and what had to be done before going into hospital.
What a long way we have come during my lifetime that we can say the word ‘cancer’ openly. It’s still said with a shudder, and fear and sometimes only in a whisper but the word was seldom used verbally as I was growing up and it eventually became, ‘the dreaded C’.
Is it because of television and the speed of communication these days that we are so open and informed (well we think we are) about everything?
I had a lot to do Would I need pyjamas or nightdresses? I had been a pyjama girl for years but realised with the nature of my cancer I would need nightdresses. I bought sixt nightdresses as I would try to save my daughter in law any pressure about having to take my washing home, wash and dry it and return it to the hospital. Everything would be landing on my son in Ireland and his wife and they seemed to bear the brunt of all my problems, much as I tried to be as independent as possible.
I had been in hospital so many times during the past three or four years. I began to suspect that the cancer had been the underlying cause all along. There was nothing to be gained from thinking along these lines. My cancer was rare and difficult to diagnose.
I had no symptoms other than a slight bowel movement change. I had no bleeding, no pain until the ‘piles’ began to appear. I had had the national bowel screening test without any call back and another test the locum had organised a few weeks previously. He had been delighted to phone me to say that it was clear.
I remember slowing to let the locum, who had made the appointment with the bowel consultant, cross Main Street, Skibbereen. He spoke to me through the open window of the car, ashen-faced. ‘I got a letter from Mr McC.’ he started. But I cut him off mid-sentence as I had my 8 year old grandson in the back of the car. The grandson is as bright as a button and was listening intently to what the doctor was saying.
I phone the locum later to explain why i had been so rude.
The day after I had been diagnosed, I was called to the hospital for pre-admission tests and five days after that I was being driven to CUH to have the surgery. This was when my adventures with my stoma would begin and I was to start on a huge learning curve.