Eighteen days after my breast surgery I was given the pathology report on my tumour.
I was in no hurry to get these results. I had avoided feeling anxious by refusing to think about it. This was surprisingly easy to do because I was kept busy by my recovery from surgery. I did not feel that the biopsy of my tumour would contain information that I wanted to hear. I wasn’t ready to hear more bad news.
When I got the phone call about the appointment I felt sick. The meeting would have to proceed without my husband. This had not been the original plan, but my mum stepped in and friends looked after the boys. I still couldn’t drive so there were various public transport arrangements to put in place. It all worked out.
I sat in the same room where I had got my cancer diagnosis and my earlier biopsy results. My surgeon entered the room and was cheerful from the outset. I was ridiculously happy to see him. The news was good. Although the cancer was in my lymph nodes it was only present in 2 out of the 8 sampled. This was better than expected.
The tumour was slightly bigger than the initial measurement, about 30mm but that was not significant.
I conducted the next part of the appointment in the mode that I have quickly adjusted to, naked from the waist up! It’s hilarious. I would have died of embarrassment before, now, well…..I would rather live!
He examined his work. There was still a bit of healing to do so no ‘After’ photos yet. He observed that one nipple was slightly askew and indicated that it could be fixed later.
“You’re so fussy!” I chuckled. The whole appointment was so light-hearted. There was laughter and fun.
The final bit of news was that I will get my chemo in Elgin and not have to travel to Aberdeen which is a massive relief and feels so much more manageable.
For the whole day I felt something but couldn’t describe it. I kept reminding myself that this was good news. The best I had had about the cancer in 2 months. I couldn’t sleep at night for the first time in weeks. I felt something stirring in inside me. It took me ages to figure out what it was. I felt restless and hyper. I was excited.
The next morning I felt happy. I was able to feel happy. I felt hopeful. I had been too scared to feel or to hope for anything. I had not been ready for more bad news but actually good news had initially been as difficult to process. That day friends came round and we went for a short walk with my dog. It was a beautiful day full of light and I felt it inside me too. That darkness inside me was driven out by light and by hope.
This week I will be writing letters of gratitude to my surgeon and the team. I will be trying to express the depth of gratitude and obligation I feel towards them. They fix people in a world that sometimes feels as if it is tearing itself apart. They heal and mend and I am in total awe of the contribution they make to people’s lives and to my life.
A couple of days ago I got a phone call about my treatment schedule. I am meeting my oncologist in a matter of days and will commence treatment in about 2 weeks. Chemo.
I know I will never really be ready for that but it’s coming, ready or not. There really is no place to hide, so it must be. I read this quote recently;
“When you are swimming in shit, keep your chin up.”
It sums up how I feel about the next bit.