I am not a patient bunny… we had got back from our holiday on the 18 August, and the first appointment back at the hospital in the post was for a further ultrasound on the 22 August.
The ultrasound went smoothly. More boobs out while the clever doctor examined every blip that had flagged up on the MRI. Three areas were dense tissue and nothing to worry about, one area was my previous scar tissue again and the cancer was still there. But at least it was still only the one lump. A larger lump in my head but still just one. It was a small comfort.
I also took some comfort from the fact that I had decided that I would take part in a research programme, a trial to understand the impact of cancer diagnosis and treatment on everyday life. It is a long term programme, running throughout cancer treatment and then for a few years afterwards. And while I think I’m quite a unique little introverted bunny, maybe it might help someone down the line dealing with their everyday life when they get the diagnosis. Hopefully the care that other people get will change as a result of this and improve for a wider understanding for workplaces. A lot is made of mental health awareness in workplaces, and although thoughts around cancer from the patient could fall into this, I think there is some differentiation in approach to it. I just haven’t worked that out yet!
The next week was the longest by far. And I took to writing a lot down. It was something I needed to get my thoughts out as they were eating away at me. I didn’t feel I could talk to anyone, no-one I know is living it and I don’t do well with strangers and baring my soul! I am the most introverted person!
I felt different at this point. Was I physically different – no. But the definition of cancer hung above my head every day. I could see it in the way people looked at me at work. My friends were rallying round. And yet I still hadn’t told one of my close friends as life had got in the way, the usual chaos of weekend plans, parties, arrangements to meet the grandparents and no time to actually sit down and chat with her. We arranged to meet up for coffee and after half an hour of discussing anything but, I dropped the news. I hated it, because it always leaves me with more questions that I can’t answer. As I am waiting.. And waiting… And still waiting. By this stage my breathing is out of control. I have a pain in my shoulder as I am forcing my breaths, I don’t ever feel like I can get enough air in my lungs and it is terrifying. I have feelings of guilt that I am letting everyone down and that I need to power on, and secretly I am uttering ‘Why me?’. Not helpful at all.
Bank Holiday aims – spend quality time with my baby girl. Just the two of us as the man cub was at work. So we lazed about, barely making it into baths and showers by midday. We didn’t have an aim, we just went with the flow. We made a mess, we baked, we went to the park and we chattered all day long. My girl can chat. And I absolutely bloody love her. With every part of me. Selfishly, I want to see how she turns out! As I already think she’s pretty amazing.
Finally the consultant appointment. He made me feel more confident now, that they would get this cancer out and apart from preventative measures of chemo, I could go back to living my life. But I still had a longer waiting game to play – the operation wasn’t booked in until the 11 September, two full months since they did the first biopsy. I had several appointments booked in before the op could go ahead a pre assessment check (to make sure I was fit and healthy) and a sentinal node marker appointment where they put something in your boob to make its way to the lymph nodes for the actual day of the operation. It was all getting real now, and I just wanted it over and done with.
There was another breast cancer nurse in the room that day. My Pauline was busy with another lady (delivering bad news to some other poor soul I’d imagine). I was taken into the bad news room again after the chat with the consultant, told me I needed to read the green book (I don’t want too!) with certain pages identified so I could understand what was happening. I still don’t feel the need to read anything about this craziness. I will need a supportive bra for after surgery (ha – where can you find supportive when you have wonky boobs already?!), mention of a counsellor for after the fact (why would that help after the fact I thought?) and then that I would need at least two weeks off work to recover (aaagh – I did not like that mention).
I was still on the journey. And although we weren’t going quickly we had a plan. And I had this.