I am Sam’s mum and this is my first time as a guest blogger– thank you Sam and I hope I can convey our experience and feelings of continuing the journey in seeking a second or even third opinion!
We had asked Sam’s GP Dr Helpful to contact a small group of surgeons/consultants to see if there was the possibility of further treatment options and in particular surgery. One of those surgeons responded almost immediately and before we knew it, we were off for an appointment in London with Dr Just Might.
So we booked our train tickets to leave from Huntingdon station where we would meet Vicky, as she was attending a First Aid Course nearby (which she passed by the way – Yayy well done Vix !). We checked google maps to make sure the A14 was clear and we left in plenty of time. What we didn’t do was check the trains to London were actually running!!!
Arriving at Huntingdon station we were told “there are no trains to London”. A train was stuck on the track somewhere along the line. Speaking to the Station Manager we asked what we could do, as there was no way we were going to miss this appointment. He told us our only option was to drive to Peterborough to catch a London bound train that would be running on a different line. Quickly calculating the time that journey would take, it was clear we would not arrive in time for our appointment. Then Sam remembered she regularly travelled to footie matches in London by driving to Redbridge and catching the tube into London. Doing a quick calculation, Sam’s option would get us there for the appointment.
It wasn’t that we didn’t believe the Station Manager or that it was poor advice (which it wasn’t). His advice and proposed plan of action was based upon his expert knowledge, his past experience and his current perspective of the situation. We found a solution because Sam had a different perspective based upon her own experience and view of the world.
Sometimes you need to look at life from a different perspective – just like we were doing in seeking a fresh opinion from another Consultant. It is not that we do not believe or acknowledge the wisdom and incredible expertise of Sam’s Oncology team. No, it is about the opportunity for a Surgeon with different expertise, knowledge and background to provide their opinion from their own view of the world.
Listening to Dr Just Might was like a breath of fresh air drifting over the many tumours that have invaded Sam’s liver from her bowel, threatening to destroy her. Instead of focusing on those tumours, we discussed surgery, treatment advances in other countries, research, recent experience and above all POSSIBILITIES. It felt like we were taking action and whilst there were no promises given and further tests and meetings to take place, it gave us hope. We know it is not a cure and would mean surgery, chemo, surgery, chemo, but it would reset the clock and to use Dr Just Might’s words again, Sam could “get off the train anytime”, but for now what Sam wants is a chance to stay on they train journey and see how far she can go…
As you may know the liver has two sides or lobes and remarkably it is possible to remove a large part of your liver and for the remaining part to regrow. However due to the number and place of the tumours and the damage to Sam’s liver caused by the vast amount of chemotherapy, it is certainly not straight forward by any stretch of the imagination. If part of the liver can be removed, then it is critical to leave behind enough healthy liver to regenerate from to stay alive. After all the discussion and plenty of questions our next step is for Sam to meet Dr Just Might’s colleague, the liver surgeon for his view of Sam’s latest MRI scan.
We left our meeting with Dr Just Might, with a spring in our step and his words ringing in our ears “it’s definitely not impossible”.
Liver surgery is the question for which we are taking action and moving forward to getting an answer. It is a huge question, a high-risk strategy and a massive decision for Sam.
Seeking another opinion is never easy, it is incredibly scary… What if it is another “knock back”, another “you’ve reached the end of the line”…OR what if the answer gives a glimmer of hope – “it’s definitely not impossible”
More recently I’ve begun to realise that Hope, like Love, is also more a verb than a noun; it is something we exercise and work at, not something that we find waiting patiently for us. Hope demands that we look at the fear and seemingly insurmountable challenges and refuse to accept defeat.
Hope isn’t a feeling word, it’s an action word. It’s not a sedative, it’s a shot of adrenaline which spurs us forward. It takes exercise, it takes continual use to keep it strong. Hope takes persistence, courage, determination and just a dash of idealism, all of which Sam has in abundance.
Because you never know, this girl, just might… Let’s see where the journey takes us.