Twenty days after my diagnosis of cancer I will receive the results of the biopsy done on my breast tumour. The biopsy will provide information about how far the cancer has progressed. It will also inform the treatment schedule. I hope to get a date for the breast surgery. It may be that I require treatment first to halt the spread.
I have put my body in the hands of the health professionals in much the same way that I did when I had my two babies. I have read my breast cancer folder and am now familiar with the main different types of cancer and the various stages of progression. I am educating myself so that when I hear the results of the biopsy I will be well informed. I want to have a reasonable understanding of the significance of the results. I will also need to share this knowledge with my husband who will be with me when I get the results.
I have organised play dates for my children on that day so that we can have time to travel through to Aberdeen and also to process whatever news awaits us.
I would compare the early days of the diagnosis to the bereavement of a loved one. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I was crying frequently, I felt like I was trapped in a nightmare from which I would never wake. In addition, I was vomiting and weak. The fear I felt was overwhelming.
Telling people and articulating what was happening helped. Ten days have passed now and I feel much calmer and I have not been sick for almost a week. This helps me to believe that my vomiting is a stress symptom and not a cancer symptom, although the fact that the vomiting was happening before I knew I had cancer does not completely fit.
I have had lovely messages, cards and gifts from people. The process of contacting friends has been therapeutic and emotional, I have cried, friends have cried and that’s ok. Certain themes emerge, being strong, keeping my humour and having courage.
I am a strong woman and love to laugh, my humour has always been a tad on the dark side, so cancer has already provided a rich seam of comedy. My family and friends have already started mocking it. I love that, I feel like it loses its power to terrify when you poke fun. There have been many jokes about getting new perky boobs and a makeover courtesy of the NHS.
Courage is different. I don’t consider myself brave, in fact I would openly admit to being a coward. I am not a thrill seeker and am pretty cautious by nature. I don’t do rides at theme parks. So there is a certain irony for me in the ups and downs of the Roller Coaster ride I have been press-ganged onto.
I didn’t choose this, but I choose to make the best of it. I choose to be prepared for what happens next.