January 10, 2020
It was a casual Wednesday night and I was casually flipping through the pages of my health history. I must have been searching for a notebook or putting away another Lego instruction manual or something equally as harmless to cause me to open the living room cupboard and rummage through. My fingers brushed past it first – the fluorescent pink plastic folder that my meticulously detailed 2017 diagnosis called home – and all at once I was transfixed. I shuffled some papers to the side and revealed it, sitting on the shelf all suggestive-like; I was two gins in, so shrugged and obliged.
Arguably, it was an especially depressing collection of documents to review. But I didn't see it that way. There was always something new to pull me in. Maybe I had a new cancer knowledge nugget that made more sense of things. Or maybe it was a chance to vividly relive a moment that my endless treatments had rendered hazy.
This time, I gripped a CT scan report between my finger and thumb and pictured the 32-year-old newly anointed ‘patient’ attempting to decipher it.
“History: Colonic malignancy – new diagnosis”.
I pictured her anguish, the first time she read those words on this particular page.
“Liver: numerous hepatic metastatic lesions”.
So innocent. An up-and-coming expert in developmental leaps and expressing breast milk. No clue whatsoever when it came to lesions of any location or description.
“Conclusion: high volume hepatic metastatic disease”.
Tears sliced little streams down my cheeks. I felt so much sympathy for this new patient, this magnificent new Mumma who just wanted to be that to her beautiful 8 month old baby boy.
The report was signed and dated, Saturday 18 March 2017. She had been with her extended family that day. Sitting in a restaurant on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. They all knew something was up. She herself was aware that things were not great but was so naïve as to the extremity of the torment that was about to unfold. Pensively sipping on a cocktail at the precise moment that a radiologist was spelling out the ferocity of cancer.
I dropped the report, letting it slide from the couch to the floor, and let my head come to rest on a cushion.
I was now six sleeps from my next scan. In a little over a week, I would be reading a report just like this one.
What would it reveal?