I had my operation at Leeds General Hospital today and managed to get back home by 6:00 pm. Sheila spent the day hanging around in Leeds. She attended Mass at Leeds Cathedral, went for a long walk and a think, and spent the rest of her five hours waiting around reading in the car.
My operation was under a local and lasted just over one hour. I cannot say it was painless and it 'probably' turned out to be a precursor to a more major operation in the near future. The Cancer Consultant Surgeon, Jenny Goodenough, did me the courtesy of being very frank about her gut feeling and provisional appraisal, (that I asked her for) before she gets any biopsy results back in a few weeks time.
The hard lump of cancer she cut out today was intertwined within the soft tissue beneath my skin, very close to a number of nerves that controls my facial muscles and eyelid movements. My operation today has weakened my eyelid that was above the hard cancer lump the surgeon removed, but if cancer has spread farther across my cheek, it can only be removed by cutting everything beneath my skin (cancer, soft tissue, and facial muscle nerves) all the way down one cheek. The result of this will be all loss of muscle control on one side of my mouth and the operation will afterward leave me looking like a stroke victim facially, but unfortunately, unlike a stroke victim who regains some/all facial muscle use, I won't.
The Consultant Surgeon has promised to keep me on her emergency list of patients and will phone me the very day she receives the biopsy results back.
While today's operation achieved what it was supposed to do, it suggested the urgent need that further action will 'probably' be required as opposed to 'possibly'. It would be nice to think differently, but such would be unrealistic, given the CLL terminal blood cancer I have had for almost 8 years now (with its side effects of producing other body cancers). My initial emotion is one of disappointment and neither sorrow nor anger, and I ask that any feelings engendered in you by tonight's news from me remain ones of 'disappointment' and not sadness.
When I was initially diagnosed with terminal blood cancer almost 8 years ago, my life expectancy was just over three years. I am confident that I will exceed three times that prognosis, and believe me when I tell you that is nothing to be sad about. If there is any sadness I feel, it is for my wife, Sheila, who lovingly looked after her mother Elizabeth for a decade before looking after me shortly after we got married in November 2012. Sheila has been the best thing that ever came into my life. She is my rock.
As for my own state of happiness, I have never been happier in my life since I met Sheila, despite the inconvenience of incurring a number of cancers. I cannot remember the last time that I felt unhappy with my life during the past ten years, and I welcome every new dawn I awake and am able to kiss my wife and bid her 'good morning'. Thank you all for your continued thoughts, well wishes, prayers, lit candles, and masses said on mine and Sheila's behalf. The song below is for my lovely wife and soulmate, Sheila.
Love and peace Bill xxx