Anyway to start let me tell you about boob hair. I sense nausea from a number of male readers right now but in all fairness if you can't handle a little boob hair you really need to unsubscribe from this blog immediately.
So it may be too soon to state this, please don't publish this on my grave, but boob hair saved my life. I am no longer ashamed to say that at 30 I found a small dark hair on my right boob, though invisible to anyone else I knew it was there. So tweezers out, sorted. But the bastard came back and kept coming back. On the morning of
I remember Phil’s face turned an ashen grey that I probably mirrored. Right, doctors tomorrow straight away we all know the drill. We just never want to have to do it for real. We both dismissed it as best we could for the rest of the 24 hour wait till I could get registered at a doctor’s surgery in
*For anyone who finds a lump – go to doctors do not hesitate and be aware that at this point you have the right in this country to request a referral to any hospital in the country so for example The Royal Marsden in Sutton is the first cancer hospital in the world and pretty much the bee knees with cancer, they do the training for most of the uk. I wish I had done this with hindsight but we thought it was nothing at first.
Eek. Yeah nervous as hell I had an appointment a week or so later at the breast diagnosis clinic that Phil and I took two stressful hours to get to from
Off we went to the second floor me feeling fine albeit a little like a drunk girl at a fraternity party. Dr Rubin, cool name, did the ultrasound and that is where it all went all kinds of wrong. He slipped into speechlessness somewhere what felt like mid sentence but was no doubt more subtle than that. The precautionary ultrasound turned into a mammography and mammography turned into four and that turned into an hour and a half wait then an emergency biopsy which is where they force needles into your boobs under a local anaesthetic and take out tissue to test for cancerous cells, it’s not as bad as it sounds you don’t feel it. The same with my armpit, while I hoped my deodorant would hold out. I left being told two weeks till they could give the results to me and I would have to come back. Phil and I sat in one of the cancer consultant rooms surrounded by at least six tissue boxes and I remember saying to him ‘god people actually go through this for real I feel so bad for them’. It was a shit four hours I won’t lie and a shit few days but after a while I had totally decided that everything was fine and they were just being careful.
The day I found out I had cancer.
I arrived at my place in
My rather pessimistic mum had already made some plans that were great but I was not ready for the flow of steady information overload that came my way in the first 24 hours. Too much to get your head round, too much to deal with. That is when I turned to you, I needed to get it out there and start laying my support network out and not one of you failed to come up with the right amount of support and care that I needed to help to come to terms with what had happened. Thank you.
The nights are the worst because darkness does not distract you from all the scary things that run through your previously stable mind. So much speculation and so much natural fear will bring down even the strongest person. I had no idea if they would say right that is it you will have both breasts removed or you have six months to live or its spread to your lungs. You try not to think it when you have been told nothing more than your diagnosis was something to be sorry for. I found some space to relax and took the boys out gave them somewhere to run wild and even found time to laugh and make a song about cancer with Phil, you have to do it. But Monday morning was horrific, the not so comfortable bubble was about to burst and that diagnosis is going to become real. Emotionally I could act as though I was fine but the adrenalin has different ideas it courses through you and takes your breath away and knots your stomach. I found myself on the floor gripping the carpet with dizziness gasping to breathe until I told myself to get a grip and focus on the kids. They are fed and dressed and nearly ready to go and totally unaware, except one small moment Isaac caught me crying but I explained I was worried about going for a little operation and it is silly but I have never had one before and grown up gets scared sometimes too. He told me he did not know what to expect when driving towards the flying fortress adventure park yesterday for the first time so understood how I felt, thanks Isaac. My mum wants to get going she is worried we will miss the doctors down time before appointments start if I am not there at sharp. But we can’t worry the kids so I leave Phil very reluctantly for him to follow on and the next thing I know I am dropped off alone outside the doctors shaking. I queue up and finally get a chance to be rejected by the receptionist ‘no you can’t see him he is doing children’s clinic all morning’ so I break after 36 hours of torture and speculation. I cried in front of a queue of shocked and disgusted people as I was forced to explain I have cancer and I found out by accident because of the doctors letter. She told me I better come round the side, where she proceeded to leave me waiting a little longer alone!
The doctor was gutted, he was shaking as he apologised and wrote a note for a referral letter to a hospital for further treatment. He rang the clinic and explained and a Macmillan nurse called me back while I travelled with Phil in a blur towards the clinic to demand for my diagnosis.
I believe from talking to others that there is one generalisation you can make in the world and that is Macmillan nurses are amazing. Sarah the Macmillan nurse saw me immediately. She did an exceptional job, with little information to hand, at calming me down, but still no full diagnosis. She explained I would need chemo and described in a matter of fact but gentle way some, not all, of the extremely unappealing side effects of putting poison in your bloodstream to kill all of your cancer cells and everything else that dares to live inside you. They normally record the consultation sessions because you zone out when the words get too much and you need to refer back to what they have said. I vaguely remember ‘we encourage you to go into this believing you will lose your hair as most women do’ and ‘some people cannot fathom waking up without breasts after an operation so they prefer to have reconstructive surgery during the same operation’. It is sort of ridiculous how in this vain society the first thing you care about is hair and boobs in a way before your life but I suppose I am not willing to accept my cancer is life threatening. I still had no idea what was going to happen and how bad my cancer was.
Macmillan nurses - 0808 808 00 00 http://www.macmillan.org.uk
One more day to wait.
So that leads us to today 23rdFebruary 2010. I went to uni, saw Agata and Nikki and felt a load better I actually managed to force a bacon roll down, thanks to Nikki being very normal with me and warming her feet on the hums café radiator. I still thought about nothing but cancer all day but I was proud of myself for getting up and out the door, you have to do this it is important, see people even if you don’t feel like it and don’t spend long wallowing.
I figured out online on the Royal Marsden website that I would lose my eyebrows and eyelashes if I lost my hair, gutted. I mean it really is incredible that when we first heard it was on the cards that maybe if I survive I would lose boobs, hair including eyebrows and eyelashes and lose weight (I don’t want to unlike most girls) and become menopausal and seriously ill and possibly no children but Phil lazarou.me still looked at me when I ask how he would feel to wake up to that and said ‘I love you I don’t care you will still be you I am not going anywhere’.
So came, Phil came to get me from uni and we were on our way to find out the details. Eek. So we get sat in the tissue box filled consultancy room and breathed in. The doctor revealed that to my great relief I would not need a mastectomy for the size of the cancer I have at present. I cried a few tears for the first time in front of them, just so relieved like a weight lifted. Oh but then it turns out when I replay the details I am not home free. I am 30 with breast cancer and that is rare. Only 3 people on average every year in
But it is only a lumpectomy for now so I need to float in the relief respite of denial for one evening at least. Next they say you need to decide if you want kids. When pushed in a corner like this, and even though I had recently decided I didn’t really want children, your mind finds instant clarity. I reply I definitely do absolutely do and their faces visually drop. Chemo has another plan and that plan does not involve kids. So I am awaiting a call to confirm an urgent appointment with their in house fertility expert this week and I have decided speculation is your enemy so fight it until you hear the facts. The outcome of today is a referral to get a second opinion at the Royal Marsden hospital while I sit on the waiting list for surgery with the