For the past 50 years I have had a sebaceous cyst on the back of my neck that has continued to increase in size, particularly over recent years, but has never caused me any problems. However, it became inflamed after the last lot of chemotherapy and I mentioned this to Dr T. when I saw him at the oncology clinic on 26 April. He put me on a course of antibiotics. Ten days later I had finished the antibiotics but the cyst had become even more inflamed and was very painful. So I went and saw my GP. He prescribed a different antibiotic and suggested if it got worse I present at the ED at Waitakere hospital. He also sent in a referral for me to get the cyst lanced and drained.
On Tuesday of this week after no further improvement, I emailed my oncologist Dr S. and asked him what he thought I should do. He suggested I go to ED at Waitakere and hopefully there would be someone there who would be able to lance and drain it. If not, I would be transferred to North Shore hospital, something I was keen to avoid.
I phoned my sister who took me to Waitakere hospital ED just after lunch. Despite explaining to those at the reception desk that I was a cancer patient and I had just had five months of chemotherapy, we sat in the ED waiting room for two hours while I contemplated the state of my immune system and tried to ignore the coughing of the few others also waiting. I also tried distracting myself by doing the Sudoku in the “Herald.” Finally an ED registrar who is a friend of mine just happened to arrive to start work. She saw me and knowing that I was having chemotherapy she immediately ushered me and my sister into one of the ED rooms. She looked at the revolting mess on the back of my neck, and said she thought I would have to go to the North Shore. She then left and after a while came back with an ED specialist I knew who was quite confident that he could do the incision and clean up under local anaesthetic which he did, despite the cyst being so huge.
My sister and I had had several meetings with this man in the year leading up to the rather traumatic death of our brother in June last year, so we both knew him. But he looked quite shocked when I told him that I also had pancreatic cancer and was on my way out.
He competently lanced and cleaned out the cyst and I was home in time for dinner and was thankful that I could go to bed in my own bed.
The following day my ED registrar friend came round and changed the dressing – how is that for service? She was very pleased at how the wound was healing. The pain has gone and it is now just a bit sore.
I am so grateful that I just happened to get doctors that I knew and trusted, because I had spent days struggling with the prospect of turning up at a hospital ED when all I wanted was time out to heal from all the chemotherapy I had had and not have any more needles stuck into me.