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This is part of the full text of the medical memoir "Cancer Patient" written by Hugh Cook. The full text has been published online on a free-to-read-online basis. This autobiographical non-fiction account deals with the author's initial health problems, diagnosis, and treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

The complete text of "Cancer Patient" is here on this web site but is also available for purchase from amazon.com as a proper printed paperback book. The full text may also be purchased as a download (a PDF file) from lulu.com for US $5. Go to lulu.com/hughcook

For a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of what's in the book (in its online version, in the PDF version and in the paperback version), see:-

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diary       site contents       essays       stories       flash fiction       poems       novels

CANCER PATIENT is a medical memoir which deals with the author's autobiographical experiences which involve, amongst other things, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, a brain biopsy, a lumbar puncture (and then some more lumbar punctures), treatment with Ara-C, treatment with vincristine, treatment with methotrexate, treatment with radiation from a linear accelerator, and a vitrectomy (an operation to remove the jelly from an eye). This is a non-fiction account but it does contain a couple of fictional stories, clearly identified as such, and it also includes some poetry.

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Chapter Three


The vision in the author's right eye collapses suddenly. Having completely lost faith in Japanese medicine, he initially does nothing.

        I worked late at my computer one night and ended up going to sleep in the small hours of the morning. I slept for a few hours then woke up. Before I had gone to sleep, my vision had been just fine. When I woke, however, I found that the vision in my right eye had collapsed. The world, as seen through the right eye, was blurred and distorted.
        This sudden collapse of my vision came as a huge shock and left me frightened and bewildered. It was as if the floor had suddenly given way beneath my feet. My reality had crumbled. My certainties -- chiefly, the certainty of just being able to open my eyes and, reliably, to see -- had taken a major bodyblow.
        My initial problem had been bilateral, affecting both eyes. My new problem initially affected only the right eye, and did not spread to the left eye until the following year.
        In retrospect, I can give a partial explanation for what happened. I had a form of lymphoma, and cancer cells were irritating the cells in the right eye, causing blurred vision. But I cannot explain why this condition came on so suddenly. It was not slow and progressive. Rather, it was sudden and radical. Like being guillotined.
        The new problem with the right eye began in October 2003. In retrospect, the logical thing to have done would have been to go back and see Dr. Slipstream for a second time. However, I did nothing. I decided to endure, to cope as best I could and to see what happened.
        At this stage, I had seen three medical experts in Japan. First, Dr. Quack, who had completely misdiagnosed my condition. Second, Mr. Goodman, who had blamed "eye strain", a nebulous and not particularly scientific diagnosis which, in the light of what had now happened, seemed insufficient. And, third, Dr. Slipstream, who had told me that there was nothing at all wrong with me.
        The end result was that I had completely lost confidence in Japanese medicine. Additionally, since the initial problem, which had begun in April 2003, seemed to have spontaneously resolved itself, it seemed not unreasonable to think that my new problem might also spontaneously resolve itself without any external intervention.
        At the months went by, however, my problem did not resolve itself. If anything, it got worse. Still, the problem was limited to the right eye, and I was able to get through my daily routine without undue difficulty.
        For some time I had been planning to visit New Zealand, where my parents and other members of my family lived, and when travel arrangements were firmed up I ended up with an air ticket which would take me to New Zealand in February of 2004. I would be traveling alone because my wife was pregnant and we decided it would be safest if she did not fly.
        In Japan, it is standard practice for a pregnant woman to return to her mother's home in the final stages of her pregnancy. The tradition is that the woman will have the baby in a hospital near her mother's home, which may perhaps be in some remote rural area, and will then be looked after by her mother for some weeks. Meantime, the husband fends for himself, the good point being that his work schedule is not interrupted.
        My wife and I decided that she would go to her mother's home earlier than expected. She would be with her mother while I was in New Zealand. After I came back to Japan, my wife would return briefly to our home in Yokohama, and then she would go back to her mother's place once again to get ready for the birth.
        Eventually, then, I got on a plane to New Zealand alone, hoping that a fourth opinion would give me insight into my medical condition.

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The text on this page is part of the cancer memoir "Cancer Patient" which has been posted online. All the chapters of this book are on this website and can be read for free online. However, the text is copyright - all rights reserved. For permission to use this text or any portion of it contact Hugh Cook.


        This personal memoir of the writer's encounter with cancer (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of the large B-cell type) attempts to cleave to the truth. However, the text may contain information that is wrong, outdated, incomplete or otherwise misleading.
        This memoir has been written in a time of illness by a cancer patient who, though he feels sharp enough, must admit to sometimes misinterpreting things, forgetting things, or, on occasion, quite simply not hearing things.
        This memoir is designed to communicate the writer's personal experience and is not intended as a source of medical information. Got a medical question? Ask your doctor.

Cancer Patient Copyright © 2005 Hugh Cook.

Hugh Cook