Getting cancer results, and £18,000 of hard drugs

A month since the surgery, and I’m invited back to hospital to get some results.

Girlfriend comes with me, and as we sat outside the surgeon’s office I happened to mention that she might find the surgeon appealing. As much as I could tell, which isn’t very much at all, he seemed like the kind of bloke girls like: he has a booming, confident voice, hair, hands and teeth. There was something hero-doctor about him.

I had no idea. She was positively gooey about him by the time we’d had the results, although part of me wonders if she’d be quite so keen if the results weren’t quite so positive. I found a photo of him when we got home, and made it into her iPhone wallpaper.

For those who care, I had chromophobe renal cell carcinoma (cRCC). He showed me a photo of my kidney. Here it is. The lower image has my drawing of the correct size/shape of a normal kidney.

Dear reader, you’re probably hurling all over your laptop, but I think this photo is seriously cool. How many of us get to see one of our own internal organs on a slab?

The cancer is pretty big, as you can see, but it’s slow-growing and doesn’t appear to have broken out and spread anywhere else.

Kidney cancers don’t respond to chemotherapy or radiotherapy (who knew?), so if the same cancer occurs anywhere else in my body there isn’t much they can do.

But fortunately, cRCC doesn’t spread very easily, and even  if it does come back I’m having a series of scans for the next 3 years to spot it early. There’s a 50-50 chance of a recurrence, but if it rears its pug-ugly head again they’ll do a microsurgery to whip it out.

And I’m being put on a trial of a new drug, which is a “smart chemotherapy”. It’s been trialed already on people in end-stage cancer, and now they want to try it on somebody like me: just had the cancer, but it’s been removed with surgery. They want to see if, in lower doses, it can prevent the cancer from returning.

“Here are enough pills to last 3 months”, says the man. I take the pills. “Be careful with those, they cost £6,000 for a month’s supply”.

Gulp.

So I’m on this for 3 years. That’s a total of £216,000 of drugs. Add to that the cost of surgery (let’s say £10,000) and a six-week hospital stay (let’s say £2,500 per week, or £15k) and full body CT scan every 3 months for 3 years (let’s say £3,000 per scan) and you come to a total cost of….

Fucking hell. That’s £350,000.

Fucking hell.

All to keep me alive? Me! Am I worth it? Seriously? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just hand me £100,000 on the understanding that I drink myself to death in a Dutch brothel within a month.

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