Is cancer out?

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Walking in a daze from the Genetics appointment to head to the hospital, I thought my head was going to explode. If I hadn’t been in turmoil about getting the result, I was now! Thoughts spun through about implications of all of this, whether my cub would have to endure difficult conversations and actions to take when she was eighteen, whether wider family would be affected and how it would affect them. I nearly turned back round at one point, walked back into the hospital, saw the lady and told her to ‘sod it’ I don’t want to know. As we both got in the car, we were silent. It was the most bizarre journey to get the next lot of news. We had nothing to say but dwell in our own thoughts and potential outcomes.

Once we had parked up we made our way in to an empty waiting room, and waiting Pauline. It was the quietest I have ever seen the waiting room, and after Pauline had checked that my lovely consultant was free she tool me through to check the wound initially. Dressing removed and that was all fine, but a blip of a moment when she said had I noticed the pea lump where the original biopsy had been taken. I had, but was naively ignoring it as just part of the healing process. When she called the consultant into the room, while there was slight panic in me, I was also assessing whether he had good or bad news. I mean, its difficult to tell when someone is poking about at you boob level whether they have good or bad news I discovered!

After declarations that it seemed to be scar tissue, and would be fine (no surgery needed – I mean if there had been my head would have exploded!) I was lead through to the clinical office. I have never been praying so hard in my life and I’ve not thought that praying would work since I was thirteen years old and worked out that church was a bit hypocritical.

‘There were clear margins this time’ were the next words I heard. I should have leapt off the chair and hugged him. I should have felt ecstatic. I should have been grinning from ear to ear. I should have done a lot of things. But I sat, as per usual, nodding. So the Cancer is out. That lump is gone. There was a recap of the previous surgery around the nodes – two out of seven cancerous. Less than three is acceptable. Still bugs me a little bit that the line has been drawn at three. And all I continued to think was I should be feeling happier than I was. This was the news I had waited just over three months for. This was absolutely the best result I could have hoped for. Cancer was out of my body. It was gone. I was clear. Why wasn’t I feeling wonderful.

Well, maybe the next ten minutes shadowed it a bit. A discussion about chemo, there would be six lots, every three weeks. Starting likely four to six weeks after the operation so the wound could heal. I would get a letter through the post to meet the Oncologist at a closer hospital to home. I would return to see Pauline and my lovely consultant in February to talk about next steps as I would have Genetic results by then. I could talk about those results and depending on the news I can consider mastectomy or just get them sorted out to match! I had a little internal giggle again. There was a lot of time mentioned, and head mathematics clearly worked out that Christmas this year is going to be a little bit f**ked. Also likely to be finishing chemo at my big Birthday in March. Oh, then I’d forgotten, there was radiotherapy. And to be honest I haven’t got a bloody clue what that actually entails. At least I kind of know that chemo is injected full of some fancy drugs that ruin your immune system while attacking the bad cells. Radiotherapy – not a clue. I’m going to live in blissful ignorance for a while yet.

My poor head (and the man cubs) is battered by the time we leave the hospital to head home. And we have to explain it all to the parentals who are looking after the cub. I honestly think we need a dictaphone to these conversations as we never remember half of it, and I always get asked questions that I don’t have the answers too. ‘When will you start chemo?’ – I don’t know.  ‘So cancer won’t come back?’ – I don’t know. ‘What happens if you do have BRAC gene?’ – I don’t know (might piss off a lot of people?). And on it went. Until I had closed down completely.

But at the end of the day, Cancer was gone. Today was the end of one long journey, and the start of the new journey. Cancer may be out of my body, but this journey has utterly changed me already and I’m sure it will continue to do so for some time.

Genetics Analysis… phew… brutal!

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24/10/18

Well today is the day, second time round. Has my lovely soft voiced, limp handshake consultant got this damn cancer out of my body. That’s going to have to wait a while, as I need to go to work! It is school half term, so I escape in early light with the car and leave the cub and her daddy sleeping like angels. All the while I am silently bricking it. I had no meetings / commitments to be going in for other than the fact that I had taken the last two days off as leave to see my best friend and her family; and that I work full time, which means I actually need to do some work! I had totally loved my two days with the bestie though, we had spent time together, laughed, joked and were happy – watching our cubs enjoying life as they always do and none the wiser of what the next stage may hold. And that had been fine.

The drive to work was the most brutal I have ever felt in terms of turmoil of emotions. I knew by the end of the day I would have a result. I just didn’t know how I would cope with either. Don’t get me wrong, cancer being out would be the preferred result; but would I feel better. I didn’t know yet.

What I kept dismissing was the little Genetics appointment in between. I had no pre-conceived ideas on that appointment at all. After bailing work early I picked the man cub up and passed over actual cub responsibilities to her Nannan and Daddit (affectionate names for the parentals).

We arrived at our little Community Hospital and before long we were in a small cupboard (which appeared to constitute an adequate environment to discuss serious Cancer conversations!), with a lady who decided that her first question would be ‘do you know why you’re here’. At that point I was caught on the back foot. Erm, I was surely there because I had Cancer, and I was under 40 and I had no family history. None. Which still confuses me. So I said just that!

Thereafter, the lady launched into a twenty minute spiel, with no pause for breath – I didn’t even get a moment to do my usual nod and ‘mmm’. There was a barrage of words, half that I didn’t understand, Angelina Jolie was mentioned more than three times, seventy percentage points were raised in varying degrees of severity against certain scenarios. She mentioned I was triple negative a couple of times which I need to go and look at. They want to look for the BRAC 1 and 2 gene and another M?? Gene. Ovarian Cancer and full removal of all associated body parts was mentioned. There was a 50% chance of something that would lead to that. And then the absolute punch paragraph in her ending speech was that I might upset relatives if I did have a dodgy gene as my sister would need to be checked, my cub could opt to get checked at 18, the parentals could be checked to see where it came from so then it could spread to wider cousins. And I could cause a lot of upset. Because all of those folk who could possibly be affected could end up making a decision about a full mastectomy.

Final question – did I really want to get checked?

By this point my head was exploding again. I was staring at Ryan willing him to say just anything, but he looked equally as shell shocked as I did. I mean, what should I say, is there a right or wrong way to deal with this. As we paused for breath, the charming lady (I mean I hadn’t even caught her profession!) was talking again. I could wait until all treatment was done, it was going to take at least three months to get the results anyway, I could wait another ten years, the offer was on the table and wouldn’t be retracted, legislation could change in testing and even if it did they couldn’t retract it as they’d offered it now. These head explosions were off again!

In all honesty, by this point it felt like she was trying to convince me NOT to go through with it. She mentioned again about upsetting folk. She mentioned that the cub would have to live with whatever decision I made. But surely she had a right to know what she was living with.

Honestly, this appointment in my journey was the worst by far. I was so confused with what was required of me, but what I wanted to require. I would quite like to know whether I have a gene, or it is just my lifestyle that might have caused this cancer. If it is the former, my cub needs to know this, if it is the latter, then my cub also needs to know that.

After finally agreeing (I mean, I just said take the bloody blood sample) to be tested, I had the actual blood sample taken and we were done. Walking out of the cupboard, in a daze, done. I’ve never been so confused in my life. I have no idea what has just happened. But my head now needs to process whether I have got cancer out of my body. I can’t dwell on this. But I am damn sure I will return to this craziness and try and deal with it in the future.

I’ve still got this.

The insanity (and emotions) of waiting AGAIN!

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11/10/18

Wound check booked in for the 12/10. And follow up booked for 24/10 (two weeks – again. 2 weeks. Just the natural timescale of things in this bloody cancer journey).

How is it possible that two small weeks, 14 small days, can break every faucet of your sanity and have you wishing time away more than usual. Its just so hard. And I am certainly more than bored with this now. I am also feeling significantly better. I haven’t taken any painkillers today which would have been unheard of last time. What a difference not having those pesky lymph nodes out.

I feel quite flat today still. I still can’t quite believe it might be out. I’ve put a good face on it, but I’ve no where to turn. The FB group I joined is a baffling arena. A lot of words I don’t understand and if I Googled I probably would, but that rabbit hole isn’t worth exploring. Someone did say that they were at the end of their treatment, and that was when emotions hit. When will that be me? Although I did have a chuckle with someone when they said their hair was growing back brown and curly after being blonde and straight. I told her I hoped to go the other way!

Fuelled by a bit  (make that quite a bit!) of dutch courage, tonight is the night I have shared my FB blog page onto my personal page, with my FB friends (which includes real friends!). It was the first time that I felt like I could share the word and be strong enough to deal with the fall out. It felt like I could own this, even though I was feeling a bit down. I needed some positivity and I wanted to share the message. It was also quite cathartic.

12/10/18

Received the nicest gift from a beautiful soul – a book entitled ‘F*** you Cancer’ and a wee acorn bracelet. I’m going to use the picture on an older related post which I am about to release, as it’s appropriate, but the absolute sentiment nearly broke me. My breathing started getting out of control again. And I had dark thoughts early doors about those damn lymph nodes. Why does your mind do that to you? Sneak negative thoughts when you want to feel a bit happier.

I had the wound check today and had to take my mother. She was not invited in to meet the lovely Pauline though! All positive at the check, and still another possible empty promise that I might get results back quicker (this is me remember, I will not hold my breath!). I still have cording which I need to keep doing exercises for, and I am still numb under my armpit. Its still the weirdest feeling putting deodorant on but apart from that I don’t even notice it.

13/10/18

I am off to a wedding. And I am really excited, but also couldn’t feel less attractive or more tired. The child got a last minute invite which I am grateful for as she will keep me distracted, and I cannot wait to see the dress. As work colleagues we have lived the planning of this wedding over the last few weeks, and I’m sure this is dress number 7! Could be more! The lead up to going to the wedding was also hilarious as the cub asked me why her daddy hadn’t married me. Then asked him why! And said that if he loved me he should and she would like a wedding! She might break him yet!!

P.S The dress was gorgeous, I mean absolutely stunning. Perfect night for a perfect couple.

17/10/18

I’m back at work. I feel better, and it is constantly on the back of my mind that I am using up sickness absence that I may need with chemo. Its all fair and well the hospital saying ‘take months off’ but it doesn’t pay the bills. Plus I am absolutely demented and need the distraction. Work is so busy at this time of year and I thrive on that. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I spend my days dealing with the most bizarre situations that I would need another blog to deal with! But the social interaction and daily chuckles keep me from sinking into a hole of self doubt, a wallowing place where I doubt everything I feel and could get close to Googling the life out of my symptoms. I have avoided that so far and I am determined to keep doing so! (I so avoid it, that when pregnant I was no where near prepared for the actual labour bit, when they check how far along you are. Any other mama bear knows what I mean, but I still remain in complete shock about that situation!).

20/10/18

I’m starting to feel like a fraud. I don’t have a visible disability. I don’t feel unwell (now). I am functioning physically as I always have done. I am mentally a bit battered, but for all sense and purpose nothing has changed. Which means when I see friends, I struggle to articulate how I feel. The answer to everything is ‘I’m fine’, but that isn’t really the case. I am changed. I have changed. I have a scar that will remind me always that cancer was taken out of my body. And I have a numb armpit! That wasn’t something I ever expected at the start of this journey!! And at some point I will need to tap into counselling. Something I never thought I would do, but something I now know I will need. It does feel like the psychological impact of cancer is underestimated in its entirety. I don’t know if I would get it if I asked for it. I may well. But it hasn’t been offered (apart from a nod to it in case we wanted to consider fertility issues at the start and that I might get it when chemo starts). At this moment we are dealing with the ‘cancer’. Which is good and I am happy with that. But reading the FB group page I joined, it seems common that second surgery is a thing. Which is devastating for all concerned.

23/10/18

The night before the consultant appointment. It doesn’t really have the same ring as the Night before Christmas does it?!! I also have the genetics appointment tomorrow so it’s going to be a busy day of information overload! I feel mad at Cancer tonight. Annoyed that I am living this damn journey and some self pity is creeping in, which isn’t something I need. Even if the Cancer is all gone tomorrow, I still have to go through chemo. Which I still can’t get my head round that this is when I will ‘look’ ill, but actually be Cancer free. What do I say to the cub then? I am fine – just dealing with a gruelling regime to make sure it doesn’t ever come back. Again, I don’t fully understand it

But I’ve got this. Always!

The conversation piece!

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P.S. Up front! Which is the wrong way round but after much deliberation I have decided to put this main script up front. Purely because I do not want to cause offence, but need to clarify why I have had a laugh with this post.

All of the below makes me sound ungrateful. A complete b**ch towards those people that actually ask the question. And I probably need to put some context to some of it. Cancer is a funny one, people have not known what to ask and I can see them struggle with it. And in all honesty, I would probably have fallen into at least one or two categories below before I became ‘that person with cancer’. It’s the fact that my brain isn’t in that sane place that everyone usually is (if you ever could have said I was sane!).

Where usually you do your usual pass in a corridor or on the stairs, someone says ”Morning, you alright’ and to be fair you could have either had the best morning in the world, or a raging fight with everyone in your life and your response will still be typically British, ‘yeah, fine, how are you?’. That’s just what we do isn’t it, but as I have found, cancer changes everything. I never thought it could, but by god it does. It delves into every part of you and my head is in a strange place where jealousy is becoming like the green eyed monster.

I’ve never thought jealousy was a good trait, I still don’t. And lets be fair, we all have moments (when someone has splashed the cash you don’t have and got the dress/shoes/bag/item that you really wanted), but its usually dashing. However, it is now a little more permanent. I am jealous of everyone being carefree, cancer free, not worrying, continuing life. And my life is permanently changed now. This leads to a much bigger conversation but for the moment, I’ll just leave these conversation snapshots out there as a reminder – for me. People do care. They just do it in their own way. And in all honesty I wouldn’t want it any other way. If anything it helps my inner demon release itself in inventive ways! Which is quite fun!! (as mention, I may not be sane!).

For those who do ask – I’ve still got this. And I’m ok! (Ask me – and I will reply!!)

 

Betty: how are you feeling?

Me: Great, thanks.

Inner me: How the f**k do you think I’m feeling?!

 

Mabel: how are you holding up?

Me: Just fine thanks.

Inner me: Holding up what – the broken left tit? With the usual boulder slingers thanks!

 

Gwen: You’re looking well.

Me: Thanks

Inner me: Should I look like something else? Should I be crying constantly? Or actually, should I just take that as a random compliment that I look better than I usually do?

 

Dorothy: Oh you know, my husbands sisters husbands aunty had it. And she was fine.

Me: Ah, good to hear. How is she now?

Dorothy: Ah, she died a few years later with secondary cancer.

Me: Ah, sorry to her that.

Inner me: WTAF, do you think that is helpful to me in any way, shape or form. NO. No it is not.

 

Bertha: Ah, are you ok?

Me: Yeah. Fine thanks.

Bertha: Are you sure?

Me: Yep, all good.

Bertha: But are you really sure?

Me: Yep (as I leave).

Inner me: Leave me the f**k alone Bertha, I answered the first time, and the second. The third was a joke. Just drop it. Unless you’re a first grade counsellor you are the last person I am talking too.

 

Johnny: Hows the bairn doing?

Me: Yeah, shes fine thanks.

Johnny: You sure?

Inner me: Well I’m not bloody sure now thanks Johnny, I was 2mins ago, but not now. Cheers!

 

Miles: You know they’ve made great inroads into recovery for cancer patients now?

Me: Is that right?

Inner self: What do you read in your spare time Miles, f**king medical journals. Or The Sun? Stop trying to be a clever bastard and just ask Bettys question!

 

Jenny: How are you doing psychologically?

Me: OK

Jenny: I know it can be hard on you.

Inner self: do you Jenny, you haven’t had cancer (I do know that before you ask), so how the actual s**t do you know it can be hard on you. I am psychologically thinking about a murder and that might not be good for me at this moment of time.

 

Eva: how you doing (with a raised eyebrow)

Me: Just great thank you

Inner me: Would it help you if I was a crying, snivelling wreck? Would you then believe I was ill?

 

Jane: You know, you might be one of the lucky ones where your hair doesn’t fall out.

Me: Thanks Jane.

Inner me: Jeez Jane, you’re a real treasure to be around. Full of joy. I am already b****rding unlucky to have cancer, you telling me I might be a lucky one not to lose my hair isn’t f**king helpful!

 

Followed by

Jane: so when will you actually start losing your hair?

Inner me: that’s it Jane, you are going the same route as Jenny and I am having murderous thoughts. Drop it!

 

Ben: I didn’t like to ask, but, you know, I heard.

Me: Yeah, I’m ok.

Ben: I’m sure you are.

Inner me: One of the most sincere conversations I have ever had. (N.B. He knows who he is!)

 

P.P.S. All of these questions have been asked, responded too and inner thoughts have been the truthful version. All names have been changed to protect identities (I mean if I worked with Betty, Mabel, Gwen, Dorothy and Bertha I’d think I was working in a 60’s admin office for Miles!!). But no longstanding offence has ever been taken as per original P.S.

Second operation – GET IT OUT PLEASE!

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09/10/18

I have had the worst bloody nights sleep. So tired. And it is my own Mama Bears birthday and her cub is off to hospital to get cancer removed for the second time. Happy Birthday Mam!!

My poor dad comes to pick me up in darkness to get me to the hospital and I leave my cub sleeping. Oblivious to the fact her mama is still fighting for her. The car conversation was usual between my dad and I – quiet! I adore my dad but he well knows I am not a morning person. (One of my first jobs entailed me working in the same place as him, and we used to walk for the bus in silence, and some days sat in different locations once we got on it!!) By the time he dropped me off (I had to give him directions again as he has the memory of a sieve these days!) we had started some random football chat – mainly so I could make him feel better!!

Now this time, I didn’t get the nurse who had annoyed me calling me through – this one was equivalent of me in my morning silence. She did what she needed to do. Checked me in. Front and back facing gowns were on and I was sat waiting. And then it started. The old dears (male to the right, female straight facing) started up a chat as their curtains were still open. And the chat went on. And on. And on. They did a quick preview of whole life stories. And then delved into the stories that led them to be sat in the hospital that day. By the time my consultant came round I’ve never been so grateful to be told I was first up for surgery! Although the distraction was quite hysterical, I wasn’t quite in the mood. They were a lovely pair though! I’m just not that bloody sociable! Especially at 7am!!

I was down for surgery before 9am, and messaging Ryan by 11am to say I was out and eating biscuits. It still makes me chuckle that biscuits must be cheaper than toast now and saving the NHS fortunes! I was woken up this time in a big recovery room (I cried again – for no reason!) and then  got wheeled on the bed back to the surgery rooms. That was an experience lying flat on a bed being wheeled at speed down the corridors! But I could already tell the difference in that op to the one before. I didn’t feel quite as fragile, I wasn’t in as much pain. But I was translucent. I went home and had another nana nap.

Then realised I had forgotten to get a sick note. Spoke to Pauline and she said to go to the doctors the next day, but also it would be a good idea to get the flu jabs for all of us. Just another reminder that something isn’t right with my body and everyone else needs to get in line with that. I am booked in for Friday to get the wound checked, and next consultant appointment would be on 24 October. Another two weeks to wait. The natural course of time in this bloody journey – two weeks. I was told it was possible that as it was small I may get results early. But hey, this is me we’re talking about! I won’t hold my breath. I was pale as can be by the time I fell into bed.

10/10/18

I had a bad sleep last night. I woke up, decided I wasn’t ready to get up and went back to sleep. But had the worst disjointed sleep, dreaming bizarre thoughts (not so vivid this time that I can remember them like last!), but I woke up screaming crying again. I pulled it together quickly before I collapsed. I need to focus on the getting better and my cub is home tonight. I can’t be a snivelling wreck. I just don’t know how to deal with it yet.

I also don’t know how I feel today. I don’t know why I don’t feel different. I don’t know that I can believe the cancer is out. I thought I might be relieved. I don’t. I am a bit flat. Its funny that life continues around you. People were on the ball the first time checking in, but in reality its boring for them to remember the second time. Why should they? Their lives are continuing and I don’t hold that against them. I just have envy that I was living that naïve life not so long ago and now I am changed. Forever different in that this secret killer was in my body and still could be again. Its funny what a hidden, unseen horror can do in the depths of soul.

I decide to do something relatively positive in accepting the situation I am in and join a secret FB group for those poor buggers on the same journey as I am. They seem really nice, as I got a warm welcome. But I haven’t made it as far as reading through any posts yet. That seems too far just yet. But I made the first step. And for me that was a massive achievement.

I’ve still got this. I am fighting and am strong.

The waiting game continues…

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27/09/18

Well I might have woken up with a wee hangover and headed into work with what felt like the weight of the world on my shoulders. Drinking and dark thoughts are not a good idea, even less so the next morning with a headache and dark thoughts. I was in a stinking mood. My poor work colleagues didn’t ask any tricky questions thankfully and allowed me to pull myself together before I dropped the news that the cancer was still there. I needed another operation and was still in amongst this crazy journey of being a cancer patient.

After making it to 2pm, I finally bailed it (thankfully my employer is awesome!) and went home. I crawled into bed for an afternoon nap, still feeling so annoyed and frustrated. This was definitely the worst I had felt in this whole sorry journey so far. I didn’t even feel this bad after the initial diagnosis, but I think the fact that cancer is still part of my body is preying on my mind the longer it is in there. Also found out today that a friend has skin cancer. God, that bloody word. I hate it.

30/09/18

Last night was a funny one – I went to a friends birthday gathering and it was one of those where everyone asks ‘how are you’ with a raised eyebrow and a look. I mean, my answer was ‘I’m fine’. But what else do you say in that situation – you can’t start blubbing and breaking down. But that’s the issue – I don’t ‘look’ like a cancer patient. Which is bizarre isn’t it, you don’t look like a cancer patient when the actual cancer is in your body. You only start looking like one when you have chemo, which in most cases is after cancer has been removed from your body (I mean I say most cases, I am not an expert on this, that is just me; some people do have chemo first before surgery to shrink the cancer tumour but they just tried to get mine out – and when I say tried, they didn’t try hard enough!!). I do wonder whether people would deal with it better if I was a mess?

01/10/18

It doesn’t feel like it was just last week that I got told I’m back in for surgery and that cancer is still invading my body and soul. The cording in my armpit is killing me still (but I am a bit lax with the exercises as keep forgetting to do them!!). The bloody waiting game is an absolute pain, but thankfully as I work with University students it is FRESHERS!! Our busiest week of the calendar year and I am back to buzzing about it. It is also an amazing distraction for me as I am not a patient mama bear. Although the workload is brutal for the week (and I forget a few times that I can’t lift and carry as was witnessed by a few folk as I chucked a chair across the room when the pain in my arm reminded me), I am back in my happy, normal, me place. I am back to being the usual  stubborn pain in the backside that my lovely team and colleagues have to deal with. I’m a little bit shouty again, which is what they know and expect!

06/10/18

Hen Do time! After a brutal week, I made the decision to go to a colleague and friends hen do. It also got me out of another childs party but meant I had to do the next day! I had an amazing time, and as I didn’t know the majority of company it was refreshing not being eyed up with pity. I felt a lot more like me again. I can’t say that I was my freshest self the next day at the first party I have had to do this year, but it felt ok finally taking the cub to a party where she loves every minute of it. I worked hard on my crazy anxiety and sat with other mams, making small talk, supping a coffee and at no point saying anything about the internal hell that we as a family were living. Its not a conversation opener that’s for sure!

08/10/18

After a long and tiring Freshers week, I am ready for this surgery. I need it. Tomorrow I need to go back to sleep in a hospital gown and pray (hmmm) that my lovely surgeon gets the last bit of this cancer out. I need it out of my body now. My mind is all over the place, every pain in my body starts my brain going into overload. Has the cancer spread. Is it seeping into my body. My sane mind knows this isn’t a thing (I haven’t started any googling yet so that’s still a good sign!). The cancer cloud still hangs over though and it is relentless in its mission to break you.

But I’ve still got this. I’m still fighting and I’m still waiting!!

F**ty, F**k, F**k, F**K

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26/09/18

Today my world fell apart. This time much more than it did before at initial diagnosis of cancer. Which is weird right? But honestly, I took this news internally worse than I did the first time.

I need to rewind a little bit. I was in to see the consultant again today. I was already in a bit of a weird mood after my dark thoughts the last few days, but Ryan and I were bantering again in the waiting room. I mean there is only so many times we can share and read the ‘Caravanning Club’ magazine!!! We literally at this point had read / scanned every twenty-hand magazine in there!! (P.S. I should buy them some mags or pass on the cubs RSPB ones to give some new life to the place!!).

By the time we got called I was chilled. It was fine as I was about to get the next plan. Two weeks post op and I was first seen by our lovely Pauline. She checked the wound and removed the dressing, ugh (still a lower armpit wax and it ripped lovely!). It’s not a bad sight but its still a scar right under my armpit. Which will be interesting trying to ever wear a summer dress or a bikini. (To be honest this is also pretty slim option for me – we go camping in the British Isles – there is rarely any bikini wearing! And a summer dress, well its knocking on winter so everything is going to be covered lovely, so what I am worried about at this point is beyond me!). I also spoke to her about the weird tendons that I believed were popping out of my armpit. No, no, they had a medical term. Cording. That happens to 5% of folk (of course that would be me), and is a tightening of the lymphatic fluid solidifies (by this point I was in a blur so maybe that isn’t the right wording) and causes the skin to cord. I can do exercises but possibly that won’t help and I will have to live with. Oh joy! Lets start weird arm exercises. The numbness I was still experiencing was also discussed – that could very well be permanent – I’m telling you, it is the most bizarre feeling in the world!

Then we trotted out of the medical room into the consultant room –  I mean they are both concrete in their humanity. They have no windows, more doors than a room should have and reek of clinical oppression.

So my consultant started talking. With his beautifully low toned voice he caresses you into a calm space. Then he delivered the blow. The news. The real facts of bloody cancer. They had taken seven lymph nodes from my armpit (no wonder I was in bloody agony and appreciate I am numb now). From those seven lymph nodes two were cancerous. My mind was blown at that point – at no point when they did previous tests did they say this had spread to lymph nodes. In fact I’m sure when I had the crazy mammogram day they had taken a sample and it was clear.  So think sparklers going off in my head at this moment.

Then the Catherine Wheel went off – ‘so Kirsty, one side out of six of the breast lump wasn’t clear of cancer, so we need to re-operate’.

BOOM. My head exploded. My thoughts exploded. My world exploded. And I still sat there, just nodding nicely at the nice consultant, the lovely Pauline, some random trainee, the man cub who was clutching my knee by this point. AND I JUST NODDED. As if we were discussing a lovely situation, a holiday perhaps, a nice bit of news. I kept nodding even as the paperwork was filled in again for the next operation. As I was asked if I consented and understood. As the date was set for 9 October, another two weeks later. I signed paperwork, I wrote down the date. And the whole time I didn’t say a word, just kept nodding.

Further news from the consultant – that he had moved ‘things” about in the boob so they weren’t as lopsided (I mean they already were so I don’t know why you tried – but do I say thank you? And also – WTF did he move?). I was so conflicted by this point it was ridiculous. I just wanted this current situation to end.

The man cub and I walked out of the room, did what we do best, and bantered. Could only happen to us, we said. Of course it wasn’t all out, we said. We laughed as we exited the corridor of doom and into the waiting room which was full for the afternoon clinic. They must have thought we had good news. They couldn’t be further from the truth.

Then off we went to my parentals – which is exactly what both of us did not need or want. But exactly what they needed. As a child to an parent, this is the worst conversation you want to have. As a parent, I do never want to hear those words out of my child’s mouth and kind of appreciate that the parentals are freaking the absolute shit out! We chatted with the usual outcome – I am waiting for the next stage, I know nothing, I am living it, I am sorry you are living it. And then we had to pick the cub up. Pretend we were both ok. Play, act, dance, read – the routines stay the same even though the world is imploding. Or is that exploding. I don’t even know anymore.

The alcoholic drinks started pouring at 7pm, and we tried to put it to one side and pretend that this was ok. We were ok. But this was the first time I really knew it wasn’t. I couldn’t ignore this anymore. There was an odd tear, but I still kept the floodgates closed. I know that if I open them they’ll erupt, and I don’t know how I’ll close them again. I know that I’ll end up down a rabbit hole of irrational thoughts and fears that I can’t realistically do anything about. So I maintain steel. It might not be the best way, it probably isn’t, but its my way. And for the moment its what keeps me getting out of bed in the morning.

I still have this. It is a blip in the road. But I’ve still got it.