The whole dynamic between patient and partner is a demanding one.
I can never thank R enough for just taking all of this in his stride and being so brilliantly calming and positive about everything. His life got shelved by this whole thing too, and there was never a whimper of complaint. Apart from when he would say things like "If it wasn't for your right boob, we'd be...." but he was joking and our method of dealing with it all has needed lashing of black humour to wash it down.
And I know, from hearing about other people's experiences (both as partners and as patients) that it can't actually be that easy for him. And lately I've been trying to shelve some of the responsibility for dealing with me onto a few other shoulders, to give his a break. But he still soldiers on.
For one thing, he's always been very realistic about bringing me down to earth with some of my paranoias. If I'm convinced it's metastasised as cancer of the ankle, he's talking me down, sometimes gently, sometimes more firmly. But he's never ever been wrong (other than in the first instance of diagnosis, when I too thought it was probably benign, so that hardly counts).
But however firmly he sometimes has to bring me back down to earth, he always shows some degree of empathy, even if my fears are ludicrous. And if it's good news, he'll be happy for me, even if it was what he expected all along.
Which is why it surprised me when I saw a couple have quite a different experience at the hospital on Friday.
She was young with very long hair so my instinctive reaction was that she was there checking out a suspicious lump for the first time. I found myself hoping for her that all was alright.
She went into the Professor's office for the appointment before me, and left her partner outside. He started fiddling with his phone. A few minutes later, she bounded out, a smile across her face, and sat down next to her partner.
I'm clear! she announced, putting a hand on his lap.
He was still ensconced in his phone message.
I'm cancer-free and good to go for another year!
He grunted something inaudible in response, eyes still on his phone. Her cheeriness started to fade as it had nowhere to go.
It took five minutes before he sat up and paid some attention to the situation and that's only because they were about to leave and he was looking for a loo.
Now, I don't care how tough it has been on you matey boy, but please be at least slightly happy for your girlfriend when she sails through the annual test for cancer recurrence.
I mean, maybe they were a couple who had recently got together, maybe they'd just had a fight, maybe, maybe whatever.
I mean come on! Given how nervous I was feeling about my own impending clinical examination, I felt like smacking him for his indifference.