Covid lockdown protected the NHS so it can try to save my life from cancer – Susan Morrison
The nurse was very nice about it, but there was no doubt. Despite top-class surgery, ferocious chemo and me taking in enough gin to render my innards leather, cancer had managed to sneak as far as my liver and my lung.
Every cancer patient lives with the expectation that one day this particular shoe will drop, and I half expected this conversation, albeit a few years down the line.
I imagined I’d take the news well. A brave lift of the chin, a steady gaze into the near distance, a grim but determined smile playing about my lips as I lit a final cigarette, no, hang on, that’s me facing a firing squad, but I still thought I’d do the whole noble courageous act.
I didn’t expect to turn into a full-on screaming three-year-old, stamping my foot in a full-on temper tantrum and being an ace away from demanding to speak to the manager.
Nurse Emma was patient and kindness itself and explained it just happens. Sheer dreadful luck. We can fight with all the weapons at our disposal, our surgery and drugs and radiation, but cancer can still leap out at you like a stinking banshee shrieking ‘Surprise!’
There’s been a lot of chat in the press lately about cancer patients not receiving the care they need, due to that new kid on the block, Covid-19. Well, I can safely say that our NHS moved like Usain Bolt racing a Grand National winner.
Scans were booked. There was the CT. Then the MRI. Then the PET, which looks like the CT and the MRI got married and had a baby.
The PET is so powerful it lives underground, in a vault beneath the Royal Infirmary, like the sort of thing Bond villains are forever building in the basement. They inject you with radioactive dye. It’s nowhere near as exciting as you’d think it would be.
The nursing team at the Western called constantly. The reassuring voices of Debbie and Emma told me this had been found and that had been checked and scans were coming in and whole teams of people were looking at my case. Then, this week, they called me with stunning news.
The liver surgeons came back to say that surgery was on. The liver team at the Royal have a pretty rock’n’roll reputation worldwide. The tanks had arrived.
Not only that, but the lung team had “taken a look” and said, yeah, we can deal with that, in a casual manner that makes me think they can have at the little horror with a Stanley knife and a teaspoon.
Suddenly the game was most spectacularly back on.
Life expectancy for those who cannot have surgery in these cases, sadly the majority, is well, limited. Let’s just say there would be little point in starting to watch Game of Thrones from the beginning if you really wanted to know how it ended.
Surgery gives people like me a fighting chance.
Oh yes, Mother Nature, you just sit there and nurse your gin. Me and my NHS army are coming to get your ugly kid cancer.
Thank you for protecting the NHS
Portobello Beach on Wednesday looked like Copacabana, if you moved Fife to sit off the coast of Brazil. People were out and about, and I admit, the Yorkshireman and I there, but I stress we were striding about like Guardsmen, getting in that one-hour exercise.
The police were out too, enforcing the “don’t stop, move on, do you think that’s exercise?” guidelines. For the record, I think there is a case for classifying sandcastle building as exercise.
On the whole, people were pretty OK with the bobbies telling them to keep moving. There was a bit of lip, as you’d expect. It’s hard to stay indoors on a rare Scottish sunny day, especially with small kids and no access to outdoor space, although let’s be honest, taking a toddler to the beach is a serious hour’s exercise. The combination of small kids, sand and water create a workout routine up there to equal any Joe Wicks class. Kids are in perpetual motion when there are waves to jump over, holes to dig or dead jellyfish to scream and run away from.
Being locked down is tough. It still is. When we retreated behind closed doors, we didn’t stop the virus. It’s a scary little monster. It’s like the baddie in a horror film. Covid-19 can leap out at you from anywhere.
We stopped the NHS being overwhelmed.
We slowed it, and we protected our NHS, so that our intensive care and high dependency units were not full of desperate virus victims.
Because of your actions, people like me, who will need life-saving surgery in the next few weeks, can be treated swiftly and safely in our hospitals and our wards.
Thank you to each and every one of you.
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