I am a member of the Hallé Youth Choir, and every summer we go on tour. My first year, it was Cornwall. My second year, we went to Belgium. Last year we hit Scotland.
And this year we went to Paris.
What you have to know about HYC is it is full of nutty, fun, caring, unique and generally just awesome people. This video sums us up, really. I've been amongst this crazy lot since I was 12 as the youngest member, and now I'm 16, I'm one of the elders.
And what you have to know about this year's tour is that it was extremely important to me. About 7 weeks ago, on Thursday 12th June, I had my appendix removed due to suspected appendicitis. It was a bit of a blow, as I was set to sit the second half of my GCSE Maths, the last of all my GCSE exams, the next day, and some of my friends and I were going to go out to celebrate finishing our exams off. Of course, that didn't happen for me: firstly, I was in hospital rather than in town, and secondly, I never actually finished my GCSEs, and now am going to be the only top-set AS student at my college who will also be sitting their Maths GCSE. Yay.
Then, two weeks before tour, I got a letter from one of the two large hospitals near me (oddly, I had only spent 1 hour in that hospital's Urgent Care Centre on Tuesday before being transferred to Blackburn Hospital, where I was between for the next few days) saying that I had to visit the post-operative clinic two days later on the Monday (of course, that isn't short notice at all…) for follow-up.
Now, that might not seem so strange, but it was really quite weird. Firstly, because I had spent an hour, tops, at the hospital I was being seen at, so the fact that they had scheduled me to go there rather than to the same clinic at Blackburn hospital a week or so later was unusual in itself. Secondly, and possibly most importantly, I had been told quite confidently that I would have no follow-up after the operation, and my pathology results would be sent to my GP within 10 days.
So why the heck was I having an appointment with a doctor I had never heard of in my life, 28 days post-op., at a hospital I barely knew? And if they had waited that long, why couldn't they have waited another few days to give me an appointment with the surgeon who actually operated on me, at the hospital I spent over 80 hours at in total?
I got to the hospital, had some lunch with my mum, and went in for my appointment. I was expecting a check of the wounds, a few questions, maybe a full blood count, and a "see your GP if you have any problems".
I got the check of the wounds. The doctor who saw me was so incredibly Scottish (no offence to any Scottish people, but you had to be there) that it was a strain not to crack a grin. He told me I had had appendicitis (trust me, that's a good thing, see my earlier posts to reassure yourselves that I'm not crazy) and sat me down (hellooo, alarm bells, are you ringing yet?) to tell me that my pathology result had come through.
He said they had found an 'abnormality' in my appendix. He said it was called a Neuroendocrine Tumour. He said it was Stage 1 (thank everything above this earth) but especially in light of my other symptoms (fatigue, nausea, pain etc.) they had to run a series of blood tests and a specialist urine test for a serotonin-converting enzyme called '5-HIAA'. So far, apart from having to redo the Chromogranin A blood test, the other tests look ok, so maybe I'll be back to Square 1 soon. But they have high recurrence figures, and they also have a tendency to appear in completely unrelated parts of the body, which is called 'distal recurrence'. They are also pretty rare, so when I tried to find anything about NETs it was a struggle, let alone NETs in people under the age of about 70. Hence why I have this blog and why I'm writing about a tumour I hopefully don't have anymore.
This was the reason that Paris meant so much to me this year. Obviously it meant a lot because I was with HYC, with the people who are like family to me, and I was singing with HYC which is an experience I wouldn't trade for the stars.
And this year, I got a taste of how quickly life can change, and how you could suddenly face being stripped of the things you loved so much.
The next few posts track the days of tour, so read on for the ups and downs of tour life.