My journey with Giant Cell Tumour of the Bone started at Colomendy (of all places) on 28th September 2017. I was on 3-day Management Training Course with work. The days were split between the classroom and outdoor activities. One of those activities was climbing a 40-foot telegraph pole, pulling yourself onto the top of the pole and then jumping off to touch a big orange ball, whilst harnessed up of course. As I got to the top of the pole, I placed my left knee onto the pole and felt a pain like I’ve never felt before! It was that bad I had to switch from my left knee to the right, I thought nothing of it at the time “it’s just a little twinge”.
After the 40-foot pole came caving, crawling through a man-made cave, with increasingly difficult routes to crawl through, one of them called the letter box. By now the pain in my knee was excruciating, but I was determined to finish the caving exercise as I was really enjoying, and the adrenaline pulled me through.
Fast forward 2 weeks later, I was still limping around and just assumed that I had a problem with the cartilage in my left knee. In work we have a private physiotherapist, so I arranged an appointment, I attended about 6 over several weeks leading up to Christmas.
I can look back now and laugh, at the start of each session the therapist would hit my left knee with a reflex hammer and couldn’t put her finger on why I had no reflex or why I was in so much pain!
I was given an exercise program to follow at home, but the pain just got worse.
I then bit the bullet and booked to see my GP about the pain, she also couldn’t put her finger on it and advised me to keep going with the physio and to come back after Christmas if the pain persisted.
Sadly, just before Christmas my Father-In-Law passed away suddenly, at this time my only concern was my family, I can’t remember having any pain over Christmas. It was obviously there but I was numb to it.
I went back to work in mid-January and sure enough after a few days I began to feel the pain again, people were commenting on how much I was limping. I struggled on until the last week of February and then a colleague in work reminded me that we were covered by BUPA and that I should get an MRI scan. I booked it that day for the following day, Wednesday. I went and had the scan on my evening break in work. I told the consultant my symptoms, a burning sensation inside my knee, sometimes like an electric shock and that it comes and goes, some days are worse than others and he said “it’s sounds like a cartilage issue with a bit of bursitis, come back Monday at 6:30pm for the results.”
My life changed forever that Monday, I’ve never been so scared in my life, when I was told I had a Giant Cell Tumour of the Bone in my knee, I automatically thought the worst, I couldn’t think straight and broke down.
I had to get the consultant to ring Vicky to tell her as I was such a mess. As much as he reassured me, I had this 1 in a million disease and that it was benign, I thought I was never going to see my two beautiful kids grow up.
Fast forward another 2 weeks and I’m in the Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry, at this first appointment I was told by the Specialist that he thought I had secondary bone cancer and not a Giant Cell Tumour of the Bone . My/our world fell apart, I just remember saying “I’ve got young kids”. I was given the option of coming back the following week for a biopsy under general anaesthetic or right then under local. I opted for there and then.
It was Easter so there would be a 10/14 day wait for the results. The longest wait, we cried, hugged, and tried to be as normal for the kids as possible each day. I went out with a mate on the Saturday to watch the footy, I won’t name him, but I’ll never forget you being there for me that day. I couldn’t walk at this stage and was on crutches. I remember watching the quarter final of the Champions League against City and thinking I might not be here if we get to the final.
I was told that I’d get a letter to arrange an appointment to get the results of the biopsy. Then on April 6th I received the greatest phone call I’ve ever received, the Oswestry number flashed up on my phone and my stomach hit the floor but It was good news the tumour now the size of a small apple was benign and confirmed as a Giant Cell Tumour of the Bone! Surgery was confirmed for April 17th. I’d also miss my son’s, Jacob’s 2nd birthday on the 19th as I was in for a week.
Thankfully Giant Cell Tumours of the Bone are 99% of the time benign and I’m one of the lucky ones, if it had been a sarcoma I might not be lying here in hospital after my third operation. I’ve had 2 recurrences, if only I’d known in October 2017 the signs and symptoms of a bone tumour, had the MRI sooner, the surgeons may have been able to take a greater margin to prevent recurrences, but who knows? Giant Cell Tumours of the Bone although benign are very aggressive! Or if it had been something more sinister it may have saved my life!
Moral of the story is get yourself checked out! If you feel anything unusual go to your GP, insist on getting scanned. Don’t leave it until next week, next month or think you’ve not got time.