After arriving home from our holiday I wasn’t due to see my oncologist for at least another 4 months, so I made an appointment with an orthopedist at a hospital closer to me. He sent me for an MRI on the areas where I was experiencing the most pain. An hour later the results were back. When the doctor mounted the images of my scan onto the light box, nothing really showed up. Upon looking at it a little more closely however, he pointed something out to me…a little shadow about half way up my spine that he couldn’t explain. I had informed him of my medical history and it was at that point that he asked me when I’d last been for a proper CT scan. I couldn’t remember…maybe three years prior? He suggested that I take this scan to my oncologist and investigate a little further. I remember him handling the situation so well being really reassuring at the same time, not wanting to alarm me by telling me that he was certain it wasn’t anything to worry too much about, but that given my history it was better to make sure. This doctor in a small town at Ras Al Khaimah Hospital saved my life. In a hospital that doesn’t yet have the technology to treat cancer patients, this doctor had the sense to perform a scan and using his great instincts, pushed me to take it further. Unfortunately I cannot remember what this doctors name was and he has since left, but to this day I am still eternally grateful to that physician.
With my heart just about beating out of my chest, I phoned my oncologist later that day and made an appointment to see him. A few days later upon looking at the scan he shook his head and said, ‘You need to go for a CT and bone scan right away.’
Another 4 agonizing days passed as I waited for the results of both. Although the hospital where my doctor was based was able to do the CT scan, they weren’t able to perform a bone scan as they didn’t have a nuclear medicine department. For that I had to go to a hospital in another region to have that done. In a very unorthodox and unethical gesture, this hospital asked me to come back to them 4 days later to collect my scans to take them to my doctor. They could’ve used their own transport or used the courier services to have the bone scan results delivered to my doctor after all, the hospitals in question weren’t even 20km’s apart, but they couldn’t have been bothered.
My husband and I sat in the car right after going in to collect the scans. We didn’t even have to say anything to one another as I neatly put the big brown envelope down on the floor of the car. I was not going to open it and torture myself with the results if they were bad. We drove home in utter silence…you could’ve heard a pin drop. The next day however I had the same envelope on my desk in front of me just itching to open it. The follow up appointment with my oncologist was only the next day, but this large brown envelope was torturing me. I had to know right there and then what the results were, I just couldn’t wait any longer. I lunged at it and tore it open. I didn’t even look at the images…the report would explain everything. Instinctively my eyes darted to the bottom of the page to where the summary would be. My blood turned to ice as I turned cold and broke into a sweat from head to foot. There at the bottom of the page it said, ‘Indicative of wide spread bone metastasis’.’
I don’t remember letting the page fall to the floor. Jaco found it hours later after scrounging around on the floor under my desk. I really wished that somebody was at home with me at the time to put their arms around me and tell me that everything was going to be okay, but there wasn’t. In a way it was probably a good thing because I walked around the house aimlessly, wailing like a small child. I didn’t recognize the sounds that were escaping my mouth. My cat Goemal was walking around me in frantic circles, in the sound knowledge that something was desperately wrong. I started to bang my forehead against the walls, against the door frames. I would pay a small price for that later in the form of cuts and bruises as well as a splitting headache, but in that moment any physical pain was better than the utter confusion, mind numbing shock, terror and uncertainty for the future that was actively consuming me right there and then.