John Carter, Now & Then: Situation Report

Travel Talk

I haven’t contributed a “Now & Then” for a while. Here’s why…

When, at the age of 88, you are unexpectedly whisked into hospital for a week of tests and “procedures” for something which is clearly serious, I think you are entitled to say to yourself: “Oh, b*gger”.

And, when the aforementioned procedures reveal a growth in a damaged left lung, which the boffins link to your sudden (and considerable) weight loss, I believe you are justified in raising the level of your reaction to: “Oh, sh*t”. Especially when the word “Cancer” comes into the conversation.

That’s how it was for me at the end of May, when I was discharged to wait for further tests and a decision about what precisely was wrong and what, if anything, could be done about it.

All indications were that something very serious was wrong, and that little could be done.

May ended. June came and went. Then July arrived.

During that time I pondered on all sorts of serious stuff and, despite efforts not to, found myself thinking dark thoughts, especially in the small hours of the morning when sleep would not come.

Then came a summons to go to the “Cancer Village” at Guy’s Hospital, where a consultant oncologist said he was going to have me admitted for a simple, routine, procedure. It was, actually, something called Lung Resection by Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery – basically poking a tiny camera into the lung and also a tiny tool to snip off a section of “the growth” so it could be properly analysed.

That was done and, after what seemed an eternity of uncertainty, I was summoned back to Guy’s for a definite diagnosis, and prognosis.

A member of the consultant’s team –a young lass with a wonderful smile – opened proceedings by saying “well, it isn’t Cancer”.

I could have kissed her – though I might have got into trouble for that. Then she went on to explain that the growth in my lung was not malignant. In fact, it was not, strictly speaking, a growth, but something else. I think “fibrous tissue” might have been mentioned.

Frankly, I was too overcome with emotion to take in everything she said. All I know is that I still have to cope with a dodgy lung and persistent breathlessness, and that everything points to a condition called “Long Covid”, whose symptoms are more or less identical to those of lung cancer.

The process of recovering is slow and tedious, according to the NHS, but at least the Grim Reaper is no longer on the scene, and I can concentrate on getting back to normal – or what passes for normal.

I appreciate this may be more information than you needed, but thought I should put you in the picture. Hopefully, I’ll now be contributing to the Silver Travel Advisor website more frequently than of late.

And retaining the new outlook on life, the new priorities, the new ambitions I developed during those very dark days and nights.

Oh, and looking on the bright side, the Orthopaedic surgeon has told me that my weight loss means I no longer need a left knee and hip replacement. And, having lost six inches off my waist and dropped three shirt sizes, I can treat myself to lots of new clothes!

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John Carter

Long-time presenter of TV’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ and BBC holiday programmes

One Response

  1. I missed your witty articles and look forward to reading lots more of your contributions once you’re fully back to normal.

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