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The Start Of Our Cancer Journey (Part One)

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Our cancer journey started six months earlier in July 2022, when Rod had been diagnosed with Pericarditis after a weekend away celebrating his brother Ken's 70th birthday. I knew he was becoming unwell but had no idea how bad he was until the day after we got back home.

After a trip to the ED, a couple of days in hospital and going home with anti-inflammatory's we thought things were going to be ok. Rod continued to improve until a couple of weeks later when pneumonia hit him. I remember thinking at the time that this was just the start of something bigger.

He had a follow up appointment in the August with his cardiologist who confirmed that his heart was ok and there was no lasting damage. But just to be sure, we were to see her again in October that same year. We both breathed a sigh of relief and started to get on with life.

It was a great second half of the year. Rod was improving slowly, although I noticed that he had an ongoing cough and was coming home from work tired more than usual. We celebrated my 60th birthday in the August and got to swim with a whale shark in Exmouth Western Australia in September celebrating our son in law Kev's 40th birthday. We had a new car ordered and were planning a trip away fishing at Xmas. Life was pretty good or so we thought.

Rod had his checkup in late October and his heart still seemed ok. He mentioned the ongoing cough and a niggling pain he was feeling in his chest. The cardiologist ordered a CT scan just to be sure. The next available booking was in December. We went on with our lives as normal, totally unaware of what was to come.

December came around quickly, and Rod had the scan. We were packing to leave for our Xmas break. Rod's Xmas work party was on the night of the 16th December and he received a call from the cardiologist that afternoon. I can still hear her words as she said "I don't think we have anything to worry about, its just that on the scan the dye doesn't appear to be getting through to the right chamber of your heart. I think we should organise an urgent internal ultrasound just to be sure. I want it done before Xmas".

We were both like what does that mean, is it just a faulty scan, could there be something more serious with his heart. We went to the Xmas party and both tried to have a good time, but the niggling thoughts in the back of our minds were ever present. We explained to our friends that we might be late getting away with them for the Xmas trip but would keep them posted.

They organised the internal ultrasound for the 23rd December. The cardiologist doing the ultrasound said he had taken a look at the original scan and didn't think there was anything to worry about. Re-assured by this I left Rod to have the scan under light sedation and went to get a coffee. They told me to be back in an hour. When I got back to the ward, Rod was already there and awake. What came out of his mouth next, left me in disbelief. I asked him, how did it go? He replied to me "they think I have a tumour". I thought to myself, he must be confused, the anaesthetic is reacting with him. The nurse came in and I told her what he had said. The look on her face and the way she reached toward me to hold my hand told me something was wrong. She replied "I'll get the doctor to come and see you".

When the cardiologist came, he said we need to send Rod for further scans. There appears to be some sort of mass blocking the chamber of his heart. I was in complete shock, surely this was wrong. I remember ringing our daughter Kate and just crying hysterically on the phone. She rushed to the hospital to be with us while we waited.

Rod came back from the scan and they told us to go home and wait for the results later that afternoon. It was the longest and quietest drive home, my mind racing in all directions. I was afraid to look at Rod for fear he would see my thoughts. When the call came about 6.00pm that night our lives changed forever. The words "Rod you have a suspicious mass about 5-6cm in your chest, it looks like it might be attached to your heart. We will be organising further tests including a PET Scan to see if it has spread anywhere else".

My world stopped, I felt myself spinning out of control. It felt like everything was happening in slow motion. I was watching someone else's life through a movie lens, it surely wasn't us. How could we get this news just two days before Xmas, knowing that with all the Xmas breaks it was going to take days/weeks to organise the follow up appointments.

In my next post, I will share how we got to the diagnosis and where we are currently.

Much love ~ Christine

Rods cancer journey
Rod & I several years back

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