Health

Week 3- No chance at Resuscitation

I have no idea why, but week 3, despite knowing that now I certainly had cancer, turned out to be easier than Week 2.  My appointment with the Consultant to get an update on my cancer diagnosis threw some of that relief out of the window .  It seemed to be an eternally long wait in the appointment to actually get to the ‘’what, why’s where’s and when’s”. I found myself having a completely uncontrollable fit of the giggles when being weighed, I discovered I weighed the same as last year (when I had a serious car accident and discovered I weighed a good bit more than I thought, but we’ll come to that), but, that I had shrunk by 2cms! Yes, I was no longer my life-long held 168cms, but was now 166cms, and I think she only gave me an extra cm when I looked at her aghast when she initially said 165cm.

The verdict…

Yet more questions were asked before the surgeon finally delivered his verdict on my cancer diagnosis.  I had three lumps in my breast, therefore, a lumpectomy, the initial thought on my course of treatment from the previous week, just would not cut the mustard.  Instead, he would have to do a mastectomy.  Now, this could be a partial mastectomy, where he could cut some of my boob off, but if it then turned out that they didn’t get the whole cancer, I would have to be operated on it again. “fuck it”, I thought to myself, rather be killed as a lion than a sheep- take the whole damn boob”. That of course, is the gung-ho way I would have liked to respond, but instead, I nodded dumbly and said ‘yes, please do what is best, there is no point in doing half a job and then it needing to be done again” or something to that effect.

I am still, several weeks on, no more enlightened as to breast cancer terminology (hormone receptive, HER2 positive/negative), but I was also told that I would also need to go on a drug, Tamoxifen, which is basically used to bring on the Menopause like a Tsunami and take out any unsuspecting rogue hormones along the way. They also didn’t yet know the extent of further treatment, such as chemotherapy, until such time as further results came back from samples sent to a specialist cancer diagnosis centre in Lyon.

No chance at resuscitation

I left that appointment slightly dazed and confused.  Having gone from expecting a lumpectomy, which in my head involved maybe making a little slice in my boob and taking a lump out before sewing it back up, job done; I was now going to have my boob chopped off.

Let’s set the date…

I would have to return the following week once the Consultant had a multi-disciplinary meeting, and in theory, the consultant could have done the op in Week 5.  However, with the care of a 6 year old to get organised, not to mention the wedding of a very good friend to get to, I asked if we could put it off to week 7.  He agreed that we could, but no later.  The date was set.  Operation ‘’boob-off’ was a go-go.

Ringing my mother after this appointment was one of the most difficult phone calls I have ever had to make in my life, if you don’t count the one where I had to explain I had been expelled from sixth form, but that is another story. Previous calls about biopsies and doctors appointments had been reasonably light-hearted, and for anyone who has a medical professional for a parent will tell you, even at times verging on the dark humour side of things.  This was a different story.  This was real- I had cancer and I was having a mastectomy.  It was no longer just a possibility, or something happening to someone we knew, it was real and happening to me. I sort of held it together on the phone, but not really, and I knew that she sort of held it together but not really, as well.

What you don’t realise when YOU get cancer is the devastating impact that it has on those people around you.  In many ways it is easier for you, you are living it, but for friends and family, it is an unrelenting bombardment of a feeling of helplessness

Everything changes including you…

My good friend who had already been through all of this also attended this appointment with me, and as we drove over the viaduct linking the hospital town to our own, I knew that my life had just been changed irrevocably.  I knew this because I had already witnessed how her life had been changed from ‘’before cancer’’ to ‘’cancer remission”. Anytime she had a lump or an unexplained bruise that lingered, it became an issue, another scan needed, another biopsy sought.  ‘’Welcome to the Club’’.

If you have sorrows, drown them…

Another good friend (there is a theme developing here) picked up my son for me that evening from his holiday club and kept him overnight, which was absolutely needed, as my response to the now reality of the situation was to get roaring drunk.  I think, after having my appointment at 11, I was out and sitting in a local restaurant having consumed 4 glasses of wine by 2pm. Not big, not hard, but necessary. As the word got around that this was more serious than we had at first thought, I had a steady stream of friends come to meet me and help me to drown my sorrows.  By the time I got home at 1am, my sorrows had no chance at resuscitation.

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