So, my next appointments all moved across to Cork University Hospital. A friend told me that rather than CUH, this should really be CUHA – Cork University Hospital Actually! But then that would be the same friend who has always assured me that Cork is the real capital of Ireland….
Anyway, I met Professor Redmond and his team in the Orchid Centre in CUH. I cannot say enough good things about Prof Redmond and the team. I was so wound up about this meeting – I fully expected an unapproachable consultant telling me I’d be having chemo and not to be so vain – just to be grateful to be alive. To be fair, these are things I have said to myself, but I don’t want anyone else saying it to me.
What I got from Prof Redmond was incredible empathy and understanding. His team had located all of my records from 2004 and were able to see the surgeon’s notes which helped fill in any details I had forgotten. I particularly liked the moment he described me as ‘young & not over weight’ – from that point onwards I knew I loved him!
Prof Redmond explained that I would need a PET scan which is a very sophisticated (and expensive) scan of your whole body to ensure the cancer has not spread anywhere else. He also explained that whilst it was unusual for the melanoma to come back after fifteen years, it was not unheard of and the longest gap he had known was twenty years. He introduced me to his nurse, Katrina, who you will hear more of in every blog. She has been like a guardian angel from here on in.
He took me through what would happen next in terms of surgery. I would have a dissection of my lymph nodes and the lump would be removed. Because it is the same cancer that has moved elsewhere it is classed as Stage 3 Cancer. As it has already sneaked somewhere else, the important thing is to ensure it doesn’t worm it’s way into any other organs and this is where treatment comes in. I think I had been holding my breath for about 4 weeks at this stage and finally let myself breath when he said chemotherapy is not used for melanoma. I couldn’t bring myself to even look at my partner, Paul.
Prof Redmond explained that Immunotherapy would be the treatment after the surgery, rather than chemo. He advised there may be radiotherapy but this would be a decision made after the surgery.
The PET scan would be the next step and then onto surgery….