Peter Ostler, my oncologist, measures the red marks - which is what cancer looks like apparently - on my chest, with a pair of calipers. Each time he does this the measurements go up a centimeter or two.
"You're right," he says, "it's getting bigger. But it's not something for us to worry about." And then, because, poor guy, he's blogged about and written about in a national newspaper, not to mention the subject of a forthcoming book, he leans back against the windowsill, takes a deep breath, and says: "I mean, I know...uh, I've seen a doctor use that phrase with a woman, and she said to him - which I quite understand - 'it's all very well for you saying that, but you don't have to live with these disfiguring marks...'" and he looks at me with a mix of compassion and bewilderment as to whether it's possible for doctors to ever get it right.
I say, "so you mean these marks at least, are not life-threatening?" "Exactly," he answers, with a huge sigh of relief. Message sent and understood. "Well, that's all I care about," I say.