So I approach my second hospital of the day with the man cub, and we are silent in the car. We don’t have any words on this journey anymore. It’s as if fate is trying to prevent us getting there as traffic is absolutely shocking, but we make it for 4pm. We needn’t have worried about being late. The waiting room is absolutely rammed for the usual Wednesday breast screening session and pretty much every head turns as the bald lass walks in the room.
God, will I ever get over this feeling that I want to be swallowed up. I also recognise that my presence isn’t great as not only will some of these people be here for the first time to get a lump checked out, some will also be here for results, some will be here for a treatment plan and some will be here for routine screening. I appreciate that my appearance is unhelpful to everyone at this stage.
However, I also want to stand up and say loudly – you can do it; if I can, then so can you – but that’s a bit of a step too far today. Because all of a sudden I am back in a bad place in my head. So we sit in silence (no phones being broken this time to cause any distractions!) and wait. And wait, and wait. We knew we were in bother half an hour later when one of the nurses came out and announced they were running an hour behind. At this point there were still eight prospective patients in front of me and any one of those could take longer than their allotted time, so my 4pm squeezed in appointment was at the back of a very long line.
As the cub had to be picked up by 6pm from after school club (and I had not informed the parentals of the latest development so couldn’t even tap them up for a favour to pick her up), I despatched the man cub to get her at 5.15pm. He was reluctant to leave. He hasn’t missed an appointment with me yet. But needs must.
5.20pm, and there was three of us left, me (third time lucky please), a young girl (and I mean younger than me so probably in her 20’s!) with her boyfriend/husband and an older lady with her three adult children. The young girl went next and then we waited. And waited. The older lady was taken in before the young girl came out (probably to be prepped for something), and I was left alone, in a waiting room where the lights might as well have gone out. The Receptionist turned the TV off and all I could hear was the hum of the lights and my thoughts. I was clinging onto those big girl pants.
Then the young girl came out with her other half. With the green folder. And the green children’s book that explains cancer for children.
And my heart broke a lot.
The other half looked like he’d just witnessed the most horrific thing in his life. Pure shock written all over him. I suppose it is horrific to witness the love of your life get told heart breaking news. Then her face – composed (sure, she might have had her tears behind closed doors, but she had a game face on), pragmatic, resolute, focussed. I remember that feeling so well. I remember thoughts of how I was going to manage this with the cub. I had been pragmatic and could instinctively see it on this mamas face. She was going to fight. Good on her.
I wanted to leap up in that instance, but I also didn’t know what to do. I felt utterly useless and I was sat knowing a little (probably a lot) of what this girl was feeling, but feeling trapped to my chair. My bald head, chemo chub isn’t screaming – ‘join this journey pet’. And running across to an absolute stranger to tell her that she will absolutely have this, nail it, own it, also doesn’t feel like a great way to welcome someone to the world of cancer. I don’t think that I would have appreciated it, but also I don’t know if I might have – it took me a long time to tap into the FB world of other girls like me and see that I wasn’t alone – is that what is needed? Goodness, I just don’t know. But what I do know is that I don’t resent the time I have sat and waited. I can never get mad if someone arrives to get a two minute good result and leaves skipping, but someone else gets bad news and needs 40mins to process it. We’re all entitled to some compassion and time to process this. So when the appointments run late, it is absolutely OK.
I get called at 6pm (man cub has cub and is tearing back to the hospital but won’t make it on time for this). And Mr A has a newbie with him. Yay! More people seeing my boobs out. Geez. After a feel around, and syringe to relieve one cyst, he asks me if the lumps that feel like a bunch of grapes is something I’ve already felt – NO, nope, not felt that one mate. Thanks for that. So after the newbie doctor has also made sure he knows what strange lumps feel like, I am on my way with an ultrasound to be booked to make sure there isn’t anything more sinister.
FMD’s. More waiting. 10 months after I first waited and I am back in the waiting game again. This pragmatism that wavered mid journey, that I grabbed back onto tightly, that I have been hanging onto tightly, is being tested to the very limits.
Then, I get picked up and from the back of the car ‘mama, mama, mama’, yes my baby girl, ‘I love you mama’. There you have it. My world. My reason to keep fighting. Keep strong. Keep being her mama. She deserves that.