Thanks guys, I really appreciate that. At the moment it's going ok. As you are no doubt aware, our much maligned National Health Service is free at the point of delivery and one of the current initiatives in my locality is early detection of cancers. To that end, my local hospital mailed out (at random) an invitation for a bowel screening for males over 55. Being completely symptom-free and in full good health, I discussed this with Mrs itfc and we thought a check-over would be a good idea.
To cut a long story short, they found a very small rectal carcinoma that I had no idea was there, and within a few weeks (after numerous blood tests and CT scans to ensure it hadn't gone anywhere), it was taken out together with the first two level lymph nodes at the end of October.
Histology reported back that this little bastard , although small and relatively new, had drilled into the first two nodes, which had of course been removed at the time of the op, had not got any further, and that my liver and lungs were clean. Everything cancerous had therefore been taken out: Blood tests showed no markers in my system. A number of polyps had been removed at the colonoscopy prior to the op, and these had been biopsied as being harmless.
The plan now is to see Oncology soon for a mopping up with chemo: hopefully that will nail it, and I'll be having five years of follow-up with regular camera crews up my arse (or ass, if you would prefer), to keep a check on things. Thanks, National Health Service.
Being relatively young and in the top 20th percentile for fitness for my age cohort (thanks, pre-op physical), my chances for five year survival are at present about 70%. If you can get to 5 years, you can consider yourself cured. Those are pretty good odds and are probably higher. Or to put it another way, if I hadn't gone for the screening, or if it hadn't been offered, we'd be looking at a very different scenario in maybe a year or so. By the time I'd be showing signs and symptoms the carcinoma may well have spread to the lungs and liver, which is where it tends to go next. So all in all, I suppose I can consider myself a lucky little mother-lover.
It breaks my heart when I read on here (and other fora) of people selling off their watches or whatever else they can get their hands on to pay for medical care for themselves or their loved ones because their insurance doesn't cover what's needed, or the cover has ended. I consider that an obscenity in a modern society and I am very grateful that we have a health service that, for all its faults and inefficiencies, can deliver when it's required. I also think that a frightening number of my fellow countrymen don't realise what they've got and are sleep-walking their way to the end of the NHS as we know it. The Conservatives have always loathed and detested the NHS ever since its inception in 1948 and are lining up a wholesale privatisation after the next election, the main beneficiaries of which are going to be the private health care companies that have been donating millions to Conservative Party coffers over the past few years. It's very sad.