I’ve always liked the idea of keeping a blog. I’ve enjoyed reading other’s blogs in the past, but did I have anything of interest to write about? My life is not too out of the ordinary, but I’d like to think I have a story to tell. Doesn’t everyone?
So I guess I was looking for a catalyst. Something to happen, or for me to make happen, that would make me want to write and share with the rest of the world. Well I guess riding a motorbike from Australia to England was one such catalyst, but my husband is a much more prolific writer than me (and talker, but that’s another story), and as he did the journey with me, he ended up writing the blog.
So this blog is not going to be about a motorcycle journey. Although I did do it, and it was amazing, and you can read about that here if you really want (www.wollongongtowoolwich.co.uk). But don’t get distracted and not come back here! :-)
Now my story is by no means unique. In fact, it is scary how many people are currently in the same boat as me, let alone all the ones who have gone before me, and will be following the same path long after I, hopefully have finished this journey.
Breast cancer. Two little words that every woman dreads hearing. But it’s never going to happen to me. It doesn’t run in my family. I’m young-ish, fit-ish, immune? Sadly, no one is immune from this wretched disease and it HAS happened to me. Crazy but true.
When I first discovered the fateful lump as I was showering one day, I was none too concerned. I’d had a scare once before when I was living in Australia and the lump turned out to be a cyst. Surely this would be the same? It didn’t feel quite the same but I convinced myself that it was nothing to worry about, whilst dutifully making a doctor’s appointment. The next available was in 10 days. I briefly considered saying that I was worried and could they not get me something sooner and then my rational head took over again and I breezily replied “yes of course, that’s fine” whilst silently panicking a little inside.
Nevertheless, the next ten days passed with me barely thinking about it and by the time I got in to see the doctor, I’d once again decided that nothing was wrong and that I was wasting her time. She examined me and I got no inkling from her that there was anything amiss. She didn’t say much except that every lump needed to be examined further and that she would make me an appointment at the hospital. I would be channelled into the emergency cancer stream but no need to worry, that’s just the way the system worked. Cool.
I left the doctors relieved. I was doing something about it, and there was nothing wrong.
Sure enough, my appointment came through quickly (within the week) and I found myself sitting in the breast cancer unit at the local hospital, reading ‘toot’ mags and avoiding the breast cancer leaflets left strategically around the waiting room. I really wasn’t worried.
Not worried that is, until the doctor had a quick grope of my boob, massaged under my armpit and went straight to his desk to start writing me a referral for a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. “This doesn’t feel like a cyst”. Oh shit.
I was to go straight across to the radiography suite to have this raft of tests done. My head was empty as I walked through the maze of hospital corridors to meet my fate. I handed over my referral to a lady at reception who quickly handed it back to me saying that they weren’t taking any more patients today, too busy, it was shut. Come back on Tues at 12pm. I couldn’t speak. It was now Thursday afternoon. That was a whole 5 days away! I knew if I tried to protest I would become a blubbing wreck. I took the paper back in disbelief, didn’t speak a word and walked away. How was I going to get through the next five days of not knowing?
I went home to break the news to Will, and that is when I did break down. He comforted me. We would deal with whatever happened, but surely it was nothing to worry about. I busied myself for the rest of the day by going for a bicycle ride. If I was moving I was ok. Just keep pedalling and everything will be ok. I rode for miles. It helped.
Somehow I got through the next five days and found myself back at the radiography suite. I had the mammogram, ouch, very painful, very undignified. Then came the biopsy of the lump. The doctor was very kind, sympathetic, but she did shoot a f**kin great needle into my boob which almost made me hit the roof with the shock of it. She stuck another needle into my armpit and probed around for what seemed like hours, apologising all the while, and saying I was being very brave. Lady, I’m not being brave, I’m lying here with the worst thoughts going through my head but I’m desperately trying to keep smiling because if I don’t I’ll cry and that would just be the end.
“So, how long until I get the results?” I asked, hoping that she might be able to tell me there and then. “Oh, probably a week”, she replied.
A WEEK!!!!!!!!! Inside I was starting to lose it. ‘Oh, ok’ I said, I imagine, in a very small voice. I’m not sure what I said because my head was doing some kind of crazy flip flop from ‘its all going to be ok, to, oh my god, I’m going to die, very soon’.
That week was one of the most difficult I’ve yet faced. How do you deal with the unknown? I didn’t want to start thinking the worst or, god forbid, start googling breast cancer. What else was I going to do though? Forget about it? Not a chance.