Sunday, 5 April 2015

There's a weird pause before it starts (Storm in a teacup - part 3)

Author: Danielle 
"Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through for you
Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile"
- Charlie Chaplin.

Back from the hospital and this weird sense of normality kicked in. No tears were shed. Not by me anyway. That's how I wanted it. I believe mum and M shed a couple between them but I didn't look. M took on the role of telling C. We knew she needed telling right away she'd know something was going on. I don't know how or what he said but he told her on the way home from school and we gave her the book Mummy's Lump once she knew. She went and read it on her own which was her choice and then came back with the questions she had. We've been as open with her as we've needed to be and allowed her as many questions as she's wished to ask. Her biggest fear to start with was if she'd catch it like the flu. Once she'd firmly established that she couldn't her next biggest fear was mummy with a bald head. My wonderful YBCN (Younger Breast Cancer Network UK) ladies helped with this when they posted their bald and proud pictures later on in my treatment and she could see how beautiful they were without their hair. She was confused I think. Mummy looked so well so how could she be poorly? I contacted M who promised to keep her under her wing. Thank you darling you've been wonderful. We informed her school the next day and they were fab. They assigned her to an emotional literary support assistant "elsa" and so far have been very supportive.
Just two days later, on the same day I received the dates for my MRI and abdominal CT to see if my cancer had spread (I was having pains in my upper left abdomen which was a worry) I received the letter to tell me I'd been sacked. I call it the get out of jail free card. "Your 3 month trial period is coming to an end and it's not working out" yeah right! News to me. I didn't want to make this part of my story but it's significant. I've worked hard all my life. My family were market traders back in the day so even since I was little running the little side table of old stock on my dads stall I've earned a few bob. I'd recently gone back to work after my maternity leave and I felt my new boss was a lovely person, who I thought I could trust and was actually in my mind considered a friend. What a bad judge of character I was! Anyway this was the straw that broke the camels back! I cried! I was so angry big fat wet tears streaked down my face. Then I got even more angry because I'd been made to cry. That anger started to turn into hate and I very nearly said and did things that I'd probably live to regret. Thank goodness for my conscience is all I can say!

My wonderful H & S's wedding was just 3 days later. I loved every minute of the day. H looked stunning, K was a credit to the two of them and it's so wonderful to have S & K as bonafide members of the family after all these years. All my family knew and everyone wished me well. The sideways glances were a little daunting but to be expected. Most people said "I'm so sorry". I don't really understand this statement. I've said it before when shit has happened to other people but I'm sorry is an apology. You normally apologise when you've done something wrong. No one had done anything wrong they'd all been very supportive actually. But sorry was the consensus. And stay strong and be positive. It was so lovely to get dressed up. I felt really good actually, I had a bit of a stride on. Well except when we stomped from the registry office to the restaurant and I had to slip my 6" platform heels off. But I felt well, I looked well and I smiled all day long. I had cancer ,what was up with me? But I was honestly happy. That though was the last time since the shit started that I've had my glad rags on and gone out out. I need to address this!!

Just a week later very early on a Wednesday morning I had my Breast MRI. The hospital is very empty at 7:30. We eventually found the waiting room and I was advised to gown up and remove my clothes and all metal objects. I was taken through to the MRI room and fitted with a cannula and was told this was for the dye that they needed for one part of the scan. I was taken through to the scanner and asked to lay face down with my boobs strategically placed in these two voids. Having always had ample boobage I've never been one for laying on my front namely because it's not very comfy. Well I have to tell you the boob voids were a revelation! Laid on my front with my udders swinging freely a pillow propping up my noggin I was sooo comfy.
The scan was due to last between 45 mins to an hour. The two ladies conducting the scan went off into another room and my little narrow bed started sliding into the machine. A voice from a little crackly speaker assured me all was ok and what to expect and that the scan was about to start. The noise is loud, granted and the tunnel isn't the most vast of places but I was perfectly comfortable. The noise was rhythmical and I found myself hearing songs with in the noises and singing along in my head. I became vaguely aware that the scans were stopping and starting and with each one I'd get a "well done you are doing so well" from the crackly voice. The next thing I knew I was back in the room being woken up with 2 very dead arms!! The nurses were shocked when about 15 minutes into my scan I'd fallen asleep.......well I was comfy! It had gone on for an hour and fifteen minutes. Thank god I'd fallen asleep. I had to drink lots of water to flush out the dye, it made me feel a bit weird but I don't know if it was the dye or the scan to be honest.

That same afternoon I had my abdominal CT with contrast. You sit in the waiting room for an hour sipping on a questionable "squash" drink. You can choose blackcurrant, orange or lemon. I could have chosen feet flavour for all I know. It was hot and stuffy and the average age was about a hundred and two!! I finally get called through and I have to strip again and I get my second cannula of the day. They couldn't leave the MRI one in in case I'm an intravenous drug user and decided not to come back.....I mean seriously! And I go through to the doughnut machine. It's quicker than the MRI and you have little jobs to do breathe in hold it breathe out and so on while the doughnut moves over you. The contrast goes in towards the end. It's warm and you can feel it go right through you like a warm tot of whiskey. Right down to your nether regions where it promptly feels like you've piddled all over the bed!! You haven't but if you could have money on the fact that you've pissed yourself you'd be loosing that bet my friend. Cue a week of scanxiety!!
I filled the days making wonderful memories with my family. And generally living. Yeah you heard that right. We smiled, loved, lived and laughed. It was wonderful. I saw beautiful sights, had fun packed days, ate yummy food, tackled 2 of my biggest fears and had a blast. We organised a last minute birthday celebration for F's first birthday and everyone turned up. Our flat has always felt quite large but with near on 30 people in it its tiny let me tell you. But it was wonderful. I was overwhelmed with support. Anything to take my mind off of the results I was waiting for.


"Good news! Your CT was clear and your MRI showed the tumour is contained to a small area in the breast and as far as we can see isn't anywhere else" ANNNNNND BREATHE!!! Phew!!! We've agreed to a lumpectomy and a sentinel node biopsy. Right there and then I want a double mastectomy but as things are explained to me I come around and we agree that's the best course of action for me in the long run. The tumour is small, it's contained, the agreed surgery will be perfectly adequate. I'm not entirely convinced but I'll go with it. I'm advised that my surgery date will be within the month. I'm to have surgery first and then radiotherapy but possibly chemotherapy as well. I want the lot. I want the kit and caboodle. My cancer is triple negative which means it's a bit more rare than some other breast cancers. It's aggressive. And treatment options are limited as currently there are no targeted therapies for TNBC - this is scary. No safety net. It also means I'll get genetic screening. It's another barrage of information. It's hard to compute. I'll get my surgery date within the month.

In the between time we decide to have a few days away in Looe last minute. I love it down there. It reminds me of my childhood. We had a little 3 storey cottage on the beach. For November the weather was gorgeous and it was just what the doctor ordered. We ate fish and chips, went rock pooling, walked on the beach, had the odd merry night & went shoplifting (thanks V, here's a shop, here's a bag now help yourself!!! Lol).

When we got back my appointments for my pre-op and op day were waiting. Surgery will be the 8th December.....I need to do my Christmas shopping now!!! I have so much to sort out. I don't do any of them of course. Well the shopping I do obviously!!! We go over to the Isle of Wight the Saturday before surgery day to visit busy bees and generally have a Christmassy day. It was lovely. C sang with the carol singers on the ferry. We meet the t-Rex at robin hill and held owls at busy bees. On the Sunday before my surgery I arrange the big chop of my hair. The BCN at my pre op said that she'd almost certainly expect me to have to have chemotherapy. So what do you know. The hairs gotta go!! I donated it to the little princess trust. It's that or the bin. It was great, everyone had a go at chopping a bit off and we laughed lots. I drank wine & ate cake it was really quite fun. I dyed my hair for the last time. I hated my new do but what I wouldn't give to have it back now......oh the irony. I was prepped and ready for my surgery the next day. I couldn't wait to get this thing out of me. It had been 48 long days since I found out I had cancer.........48 days of some of my darkest thoughts but some of my happiest memories. I haven't wallowed in self pity. I cried once! Because I lost my job. Cancer will not have my sorrow. I will keep smiling :-)


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