Bonus Chapter: The first time I met Hodgkin

The first time I met Hodgkin


I haven’t shared all the glorious hospital details about my cancer experience because frankly, who cares. There is not a lot one can learn from these besides sharing misery with others. But what’s the point of that? It’s in the past. It’s better just to release and with it all the emotions attached.


However, I was reminded of an instance when a friend recently asked if I had any intuition, as many people do, that something bad was going to happen before the final diagnosis was established. I did. During the biopsy.


Very early into the process I was scheduled to undergo a biopsy in order to remove the tumor from the left side of my neck. This would allow for more checks, the proper establishment of the diagnosis and follow-on treatment. Unfortunately, there was no way around the cutting and slicing. I was reassured multiple times that it was going to be a routine operation and will be over in 30 minutes. I would not be put into sleep, only local anesthesia around the neck. Great!


The moments leading up to the operation are a bit blurry but it went something like this: I changed clothes, the medical staff prepared me for the operation, I was escorted to the operating room, I got on the operating bed, my hands and legs were tied…safely (in case I had second thoughts), everybody reassured (again) that it’s just a routine operation, local anesthesia injected, I felt some of tingling and the surgical knife approached my neck.


To that day (and since then) I haven’t experienced a worse feeling than somebody cutting my neck open while I’m fully conscious of it. It wasn’t physically that painful rather mentally. Unlike anything I ever felt before. I had no other choice though – I mean, physically I was tied to the bed (suspect they had a couple of runners before…) so I could either feel like a victim or just go with it. I decided to stay in the end (both physically and mentally).


The operation was going well. We made chit-chat (little awkward, but what else can you do?) and I was regularly updated on the progress. Coming up to the half hour mark, which was supposed to be entire duration, the surgeon went quite. Very quite. Then he began to sound concerned.


That is definitely not the feeling you want to have in the middle of an operation. Especially while you are awake. Let me repeat that: when your arms and legs are tied to an operating bed, you are fully conscious of what’s going on and someone starts to sound worried that’s the last thing you want to happen.


“Could it be Hodgkin’s?” the surgeon asked quietly from his colleagues. That was the first time I heard that word. Hodgkin.


I didn’t know what to make of it but putting together the extension of the operation’s duration and the concerned voices, I had a feeling that it was not going to be great.


The battle of taking out the golf ball sized tumor from my neck lasted about an hour and a half in total, which I experienced consciously awake. Wouldn’t recommend it. Seriously.


Upon request the doctor showed me the tumor they’ve taken out. While looking at it a feeling of relief washed over my exhausted body. I was grateful that this hell was over but even more grateful that one tumor was out of my body.


But back then I had no idea just what was waiting for me the next year.