I was having to return to the doctor the following Thursday for a final ‘catch-up/prognosis’ before leaving for the UK the next day.
That Thursday was sobering. I had an appointment with the Consultant in the morning, followed by an appointment with the anaesthetist at lunchtime, followed by an appointment with my GP in the afternoon. A day of doctors, preparing me for the endless appointments to come. My good friend who had already been through all of this had previously explained how what you get once you have had a cancer diagnosis is a basic ‘dripfeed of shit’ at every appointment, and this visit was no different.
Drip, drip, drip…
In my head, during the last conversation with the consultant, he had told me that I would have to have a mastectomy then start taking Tamoxifen, a drug used to treat ‘hormone positive’ breast cancers, for the next 5 years. However, somewhere in that last conversation, I had failed to hear that I would also need 30 sessions of radiotherapy, given 5 days a week for 6 weeks- forty-five minutes’ drive away. As I mentioned, a ‘drip feed of shit’.
Who knew Sesame Street would play a part?
After my appointment with the consultant, I then spent a bit of time with the cancer nurse, deciding on my new fake boob. I can only describe these as looking like the noses of Sesame Street characters. Mid-brown in colour and squidgy, the only real choice I had to make was whether I was more of a Bert or an Ernie size. In the end, after trying to pat down my soon-to-be-gone boob, we couldn’t decide, so we went with both, along with what can only be described as a training bra the likes of which you would have been very proud to have aged 10. This cancer malarkey was become more surreal by the minute.
Week 5 passed in a UK blur of trying to get organised, visiting London where I had the delights of gastroenteritis for the entire stay, and then, forgetting about what was to come at a good friend’s wedding. I had decided to go straight from the wedding back to France, rather than saying two goodbye’s to my son, so, with Jurassic World Lego on hand to ease any and all emotions, I said goodbye to him at this grandparents house where he was set to spend the next two weeks, our longest time apart, and then set off, 95% confident and 5% hopeful that this wouldn’t be the last time I would see him.
I have had the word ‘brave’ directed at me a few times over the past several weeks, and that is something that I have to admit, I find a bit strange. I don’t consider any of this to be brave, but rather to be necessity. I am not in the forces where I am choosing to put my life on the line every time I go on tour, or working for the police, risking my life every time I step onto the streets. I am just doing what I must in order to survive and see my son grow. There have also been a lot of tears through all of this, at times a dribble, and at other times they rise like a wave from nowhere, triggered by a song on the radio, or a hope for memories still to come, There is nothing brave about any of this, there is only the necessity of living.