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Andrew smiling

Andrew Rhodes, 32

It felt like someone was speaking a foreign language.”

The appointment

Earlier that week, I had a brain MRI and was asked to see the doctor for the results. I didn’t think much of it. On the day of the appointment, I left the office telling my colleagues I would be back in an hour. Around 3 o’clock, I arrived at Cabrini Malvern and went to my ENT specialist’s reception area.

The diagnosis

I was alone when I was welcomed into his consultation room, where he quickly and concisely told me the diagnosis: “The scans have found a large lesion on your brain.” As someone with limited medical knowledge, I didn’t immediately grasp the severity of the situation. The doctor explained it was a tumour the size of a billiard ball and showed me the scans, leaving no doubt about the large tumour on the right side of my brain.

Due to its size, I was informed that I would likely need an urgent craniotomy to remove it, and arrangements had already been made for me to see a neurosurgeon in the coming days. When the doctor asked me what I thought, I responded with, “We just need to do what needs to be done.”

I remember hearing words like ‘tumour’, “’craniotomy’, ‘neurosurgeon’, ‘cancer’ and it felt like someone was speaking a foreign language. At that point in my life, I had never met a neurosurgeon, and I had no idea what a craniotomy was. It was overwhelming to process all of this new information.

The calls

The doctor mentioned that the hardest part of receiving such a diagnosis is often telling loved ones, and offered to call someone for me. I asked him to call my mum, a former registered nurse, but there was no answer. Then, I asked him to call my dad, who also didn’t answer. Since my partner and brother were both at work, I told the doctor not to worry them and that I would tell them myself. In a strange way, my parents not answering their phones provided a bit of comic relief to a situation that caught me off guard.

Andrew’s reaction

Upon hearing the word ‘tumour’, I realised that my life had just changed in an instant. Memories of a close childhood friend losing their mother to a brain tumour flooded my mind, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I would face a similar fate. Despite my racing thoughts and churning insides, I was determined to project strength and not cry. The doctor would later speak to my mother and describe my reaction as stoic. Fortunately, a mask concealed my quivering lips, and I felt grateful for it.

The aftermath

After leaving the consultation room, I went to the ground floor of the hospital and visited the bathroom. As I stood there, I felt overcome with emotion and tears began to well up in my eyes. Once I had composed myself, I looked in the mirror and spoke aloud, “You can do this”. Though I admit, inwardly, I was unsure if the words I spoke were true.

Andrew Rhodes has generously donated his diagnosis story.