Friday, 11 March 2022

The Verdict

Early last week I got a letter from the Cancer Centre giving me a telephone appointment with my oncologist. Finally I was going to get the result of my cancer surveillance scan. But just a couple of hours before the appointment, I got a call from the secretary cancelling it. And then I really began to worry. Because exactly the same process had happened six years ago, when I had a recurrence of my cancer. The review appointment was cancelled at short notice to give the oncology team time to consider what action to take. Then a further appointment was made to tell me the bad news and what they were going to do about it. In a terrible rerun, another letter from the Cancer Centre duly arrived making a new appointment for this week. Our anxiety levels went sky high and remained there, day and night.

At last, the day of the appointment came. The letter said they would speak to me at 1.30 pm. I sat in my office beside the telephone, trying to stay calm. I was desperate to be put out of my misery, but I was so very fearful of what they were going to say. I found myself flicking to newsfeeds from the war in Ukraine. An hour passed and no-one called. Then another. And another. I was beginning to think that they’d forgotten to tell me the appointment was postponed again. Or even worse, that they weren’t going to call at all.

At around 4.30 pm the phone rang. I picked up the handset and pressed the button. Although the phone was ringing, no-one was on the line. I shouted to T, ‘There’s something wrong with the phone.’ She ran down the hallway towards the kitchen for the other handset. In her haste, she tripped over and went flying. But she still managed to crawl into the kitchen. As T grasped the handset, the ringing stopped.

I helped her up. She had bruised her elbow and grazed a knee. She was badly shaken. The phone began to ring again. It was my mobile. I ran down the hallway to my office and answered it. T hobbled after me. It was the Registrar. After asking me how I was feeling, he said, ‘I expect you want to know the result of your scan.’ My heart was going nineteen to the dozen. ‘It’s fine,’ he said. ‘No real change from the last time.’ T, leaning on my shoulder, began to cry.


  1. If only they knew what misery and anxiety they cause when a little thought for the patient might be exercised. The worry could kill you. If they could send you the first letter they surely could have said you were all clear. Do they not realize that when you have had cancer you never stop worrying and that can make you ill.

    1. Very true. They don't seem to think about the stress they cause.