My throat pain was steadily increasing and the inability to move my tongue or articulate just led me to darker thoughts. The meeting in London with new ENT ( ear nose and throat specialist) and urgent scans confirmed it …..
Stage 4 Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the right tonsil with spread into base of the tongue. This indicated, that the node last year was not metastatic breast cancer, but part of a new tonsil cancer.
I could feel the anger welling up as I left the hospital crying. I called my mother. What a great woman… “You can beat it again” she mumbled through broken tears over the thousand miles that separated us … I wanted so much for her to hold me as a mother holds her infant child. To tell me everything was going to be alright. The fear was suffocating.
Sitting in the car trying to digest the news, I just felt exhausted, so unlucky, I couldn’t even find the ignition for the key my hands were shaking so badly. My life has been a series of battles, almost like tests, and I just didn’t know if I could face yet another. I couldn’t stop trembling as I sat there trying to reason through all the recent events. My God !!! Cancer again …. chemotherapy and radiotherapy again! How unlucky can I possibly be ? What did I ever do to deserve this?
As I drove to my best friend’s house in search of consolation, I realised that life was exactly that… a series of ups and downs that you wade through to your best ability with courage and conviction. We discussed the immediate implications of the diagnosis, most of all the effect it would have on my son and how to tell him. How could the doctors have made this mistake. They had missed the obvious first sign of tonsil cancer: a single swollen cervicle node. Instead they had looked at my history of breast cancer and simply fobbed it off as metatastic spread. Even a pathology report from the lab clearly stated that there could be a new primary tumour but both my breast consultant and the head neck team were in unison and adamant it was from the breast.
My head was a whirlwind of thoughts.. Why had no one investigated further ? Why had someone not stuck a bloody endoscope tube down my throat? Even when the neck dissection came back showing only the ONE cancerous node they did not move from their theory of breast cancer spread. I have to say that the new consultants were all quite shocked that this had happened. I have not seen the consultants that made the mistake since the new diagnosis..I am still far too emotional and full of resentment but it is something that I will need to face and challenge.
How did all this happen and whose fault is it? I dont have the answer to this as there will always be an excuse to protect those responsible, I mull over the ‘mistake’ day and night. To find some inner peace I say to myself that on the upside of what has happened, I am now considered a 5 year breast cancer survivor; on the downside unfortunately, I have a new primary tumour and am embarking on another unknown journey.
Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.