Friday, 24 August 2012


 I went to the oncology clinic on Wednesday, prepared to defend my case against coming off Herceptin,  waited forty minutes till I was called, then sat with my daughter in the consulting room, waiting for the knock upon the door. It opened to reveal a junior doctor, struggling with the bulging file that holds my notes. She introduced herself, shaking my hand and explaining that she was doing her oncology rotation. She asked if I'd been having any problems.
'No,' I said, 'But...'
'Do you check yourself regularly for lumps?'
'Do you mind if I take a look before you go?'
'Not at all,' I said, unbuttoning my blouse.
'We were expecting to see Dr Wheatley,' Cara weighed in. 'My mother has been really worried about this all summer. She's been really anxious.  She thought she had to stop it....'
'Dr Wheatley wrote to me in June,' I explained. 'He asked  me to make an appointment to see him to talk about coming off Herceptin.'
   The young doctor sought refuge in my notes. 'These are what I've just been looking at -  October last year...tolerating Herceptin well...continuing with treatment...six monthly review in clinic....'
'My last clinic was this February,' I said. 'Then Dr Wheatley wrote to say  that he'd been reviewing my notes and to ask me to bring the October clinic forward so he could talk to me about stopping my treatment. He said he wanted to book me in for some scans before he did anything. I've thought it over,' I added, handing her the list of pros and cons. 'Perhaps you could give him this? It says I don't want to come off Herceptin.'
'He's here,' she said, confused. 'I'll just go and ask him.'
   Five minutes later she returned with the message that I could carry on with Herceptin if I wanted to. It was just a suggestion, that's all.
'Great,' I said. 'So I carry on as before and you'll write me a new script?'
  She looked doubtful but gave me a slip of paper for the receptionist to book an appointment in six months' time.
  Cara and I stood up to go. I wanted to quit while I was ahead. As we opened the door, we saw Dr Wheatley walking down the corridor, his back to us.  He rounded the corner, out of sight.
   'Bizzarre,' I said, 'But I got the outcome I wanted.'

Stonewall at Sete by Cara Loukes

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