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Tom Philip’s Journal

Tom Philip’s Journal

Tom Philip has written a journal entitled "Don’t be a man: Do the right thing", which is an ongoing series about living with cancer from Tom’s perspective.


Pat, I’d like to buy a bowel please

by Tom Philip

Depending on which newspaper is in your hands just now, or on which web site you’ve found my ramblings about colorectal cancer, there is a pretty good chance that I’m recovering from surgery while you’re reading this story.

To recap my journey with cancer to this point, in relatively short order I went from reporting blood in my stools, to having a surgeon remove several growths, called polyps, from my large intestine. The procedure is known as a colonoscopy, and tissue samples removed during this painless internal investigation were analyzed and found to be cancerous. Another visit to hospital was ordered, where a Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scan pinpointed the size and location of the tumor in my sigmoid colon.

Surgery was the only indicated solution, my surgeon said. A wonderful team of cancer specialists at the Kingston Regional Cancer Centre confirmed that diagnosis. Dates were set for a pre-op (Pre-Operative Consultation), during which I was brought up to speed on what would happen before, during and immediately after surgery while I remain in hospital.

I’ve probably been here for about five days now, dear reader, although I won’t be able to tell you much about this experience until I’m tucked up once again on my living room sofa. What I would like to tell you today is how I’d wished, right up to the point of being told by the anesthetist to “Count backwards from 100,” that this entire trip had been only a very, very bad dream.

That there was no cancer in my colon. That I hadn’t had to suffer night after night of sleeplessness, worried about that disease. That I’d had no need to write a series about living with cancer. That I had not been forced to face my own mortality at the age of 54.

A couple of days before checking into hospital for this amazingly invasive surgical procedure, I had a vivid, comforting dream. I believe in dreams and the power of mind over matter. I believe in angels too, but that may be the subject of a later column.

I don’t watch a lot of television; and when I do watch TV programs, I certainly don’t spend a lot of time glued to one program to the exclusion of everything else. But in my dream, I was caught in the spotlights of that most popular of game shows, Wheel of Fortune.

Now, I’d find it hard to believe that there is a TV owner anywhere in North America who hasn’t watched ‘Wheel’ at some point. The premise is remarkably simple: contestants spin a giant wheel, on which are spaces marked with dollar figures, prizes, free spins and the word ‘Bankrupt’ which is pretty much self explanatory. If the wheel stops in the right place, players get to pick a consonant from a list in an effort to solve a word puzzle. With enough consonants revealed, contestants can then use some of their earned cash to buy vowels to help solve the mystery.

I could see the puzzle in my dream. I knew the phrase, but needed the help of that vowel. But I told show host Pat Sajak something else.

“I’d like to buy a bowel please, Pat,” I said.

Pat understood. No mistake. And the phrase leaped from the board as clear as day, a positive message to lead me into surgery.

“You’re going to be cancer free!”

It is a wheel of good fortune, indeed.

next  It’s a new lease on life

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