I want to say a big thanks to everyone who wrote or offered their support and good wishes. It was much appreciated! Because the worst thing about the word “cancer” is the reaction it can cause in those who project a lifetime of media tragedies onto you.
It’s especially hard for an impressionable person to avoid buying into what other people think. A well meaning neighbour who lost his wife last year to the ravages of chemo, shook his head sadly and sympathised, “once it gets to the lymph, that’s really it.” That’s why I stay away from hospitals: like a court of justice, their authority is easily mocked from afar. But once in either dock when your life and times count for nothing, you start to wonder – can all these earnest people really be wrong? – and it dawns that a single shake of the head could change life for good.
So last Friday with some trepidation I met with my surgeon, a man to whom I already owe a great debt for his patience and experience. A month previous he couldn’t guarantee anything useful could be done by the end of May, if I insisted on going my own way: “the influence of pH is very new… and very little research has been done.” Surrounded by the mirrors of friends, confidence in pH comes naturally, but hearing that the world’s most respected institutions hadn’t thought it worth their time tends to render it in an absurd light, and me with it.
We met as planned despite his surgery running 40 minutes late. How was I? Still averse to the radiation, radical neck dissection and chemo? I’m afraid so. “You have loads of patients,” I ventured, “I can be, you know, the control group.”
He seemed appalled; “I don’t want you to be the control group!” was said with genuine concern. Were they always doomed? I hadn’t realised. “How about I take another biopsy while you’re here..?” No, but thanks anyway! “Mr Carstairs, as these things progress, in future I can’t promise we can offer a cure, though we would of course still offer to treat you,” he said, hoping the difference between two words might somehow sink in. “As you know, I can’t force you to accept these procedures against your will,” he conceded, wistfully.
“Tell you what,” I said, producing a small plastic container. “I have some pH test strips here. Let’s make a comparative test. If your pH is healthier than mine, I hereby consent to all the treatments you recommend, and you can start as soon as you like.”
He stared at the cheerful yellow and green package and then looked away. “Yes, of course, I know what they are, we use something quite similar..” and then he paused. “No, to be honest, I don’t want to know…”
And that was that. He checked the neck, glands, etc, and we agreed the secondary tumour had not increased in size. “I’ll check the primary tumour,” and donning a plastic glove he made an internal exam of the very very base of my tongue, seeming to use quite a bit of pressure.
Well? “I can’t seem to locate it…”
We agreed to meet at the end of August, three months away. That’s actually the minimum all the protocols I am on – which treat the patient gradually, rather than the tumour suddenly – are likely to have a noticeable effect on a tumour ensconced within the lymph node, now the size of a golf ball.
As it turns out, my 40 minutes of elevated heart rate in reception were well spent: slowly chewing through an entire bag of almonds, ensuring the alkalinity of my saliva skyrocketed off the scale for a while.
Plato said “We are twice armed, who fight with faith.” Despite how it seems, I’m not a gambling man!