Hospital visit yesterday. First up was the physio, who was pleased with my progress and thinks that there may be a tiny bit of the trapezium (?) which is still working despite the surgery. She doesn't need to see me for another three or four weeks, so that was quite encouraging.
Then the consultant. He showed my a photo of what he removed (those of a squeamish disposition may wish to skip the next couple of sentences!!). It was hideous - although, to be fair and as he pointed out, it had been pickled in a jar for a couple of weeks. Imagine a pork chop left for far too long on the barbeque and you will get a good idea of what it was like. Rather worryingly, the pathology showed that 11 of the lymph nodes removed were infected so it is/was obviously a very aggressive and fast-moving cancer, which is something I just have to accept and also trust that the experts will do their best to make sure that my subsequent treatment does its utmost to eradicate any remaining nastiness. I asked to be referred to the Royal Marsden, gave my reasons and of course, under Patient Choice, I can ask to be treated wherever I want. I didn't even have to utter the magic words "Patient Choice", as my consultant said them, so that was good. He said that changing hospitals might lead to a small delay in starting treatment but that it wasn't harmful to have that delay and was going to dictate my referral letter after leaving us. I think he was quite impressed (in a non-committal, specialist kind of way) that we knew the names of the two top people in head and neck cancer at the Marsden, so it was obvious we had done our research (thank you, Caroline, for all the information you pulled out for us!).
Overall, the day was a bit like the curate's egg - seeing how nasty my cancer is was quite sobering and has certainly given me something more to discuss at my psychological assessment this afternoon. I still remain resolutely positive that the medics will do their utmost to help me through this and give me the best chance of survival. I know also that my attitude will make a big difference, so although I descend into the dark places at times - and I think that actually, it is healthy to do that - I genuinely remain optimistic and upbeat.
The good bits of the curate's egg were - physio making a difference, my embryonic water-colour painting is progressing well (at least it is obvious what I am painting!), a meal and a glass of wine with Neil, Adam and our friend Jonathan at one of the nice pubs in Old Oxted and the continuing love and support of many.
Further update tomorrow once I have processed whatever happens at this afternoon's psychological assessment.