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When I learnt that I had become a capital C patient

On 19 December 2000 I underwent a gastroscopy because I complained about difficulties to swallow food. The gastroenterologist suggested this procedure and I was quite happy to follow his advice. Not because I believed in him, but because I felt the need that something urgent needed to be done to check the conditions of my oesophagus.

The result of the gastroscopy was that tumor tissue was detected, which needed further pathological analysis. I was asked to come back the next day to discuss the result.

Well, as far as I was concerned, the result was clear: cancer. But the nice doctor wanted to have scientific proof for what I felt was the case. On 20 December, I returned to him together with my wife, and he offered the result I had anticipated. He was good enough to arrange for further examinations, i.e. a CT (Computed Tomography), also known as CAT scanning (Computed Axial Tomography), and he also arranged for meeting the leading specialist in town the next day.

Both the CT and the meeting with the specialist happened the next day. I took the CT documents to the expert and he told us that the cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) had already spread into the lymph system, i.e. a surgical operation at this point in time wasn't very reasonable.

He called a colleague who is an expert in radiation therapy and we drove over to the hospital to see him. His diagnosis was clear: immediate radiation and chemotherapy to sterilize the cancer cells. If that approach was successful, he suggested to remove the cancer from the oesophagus and then embark on a monitoring program to check whether all cancer cells were really sterilized.

Well, my wife and I decided to go this way as it sounds fairly reasonable. And that's where I am currently in terms of medical diagnosis and treatment plans.

How does it feel to be a C patient

Well, I don't know actually, because I don't feel like a C patient. Miraculously, I feel extremely well. I've lost 20 kg weight, I eat almost vegetarian because that's the food I can swallow best. I sometimes feel that this can't be true, because people call me and ask "How do you feel?", probably expecting me to respond with "uh, not so good ...". But that's not true for the time being. It may change though, who knows?

My spirits are high and I receive an enormous amount of support from my wife, friends, and even people I hardly know. As a C patient, I live again in a rather privileged situation, I suppose.

One thing which cancer seems to generate, is a higher level of consciousness about who I am, what my life is all about, and what it will be about. I have never been able to accept support and love as unconditionally as I do these days, and I feel great about it. Eventually, I can accept what is offered to me ... no questions asked, just pure acceptance.

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