Sunday, 1 November 2015


Author: Christina B

On the 2nd December 2014, my washing machine broke down and leaked all over the kitchen floor. Also on that day I was diagnosed with Stage 2 grade three breast cancer. That day when I broke down and cried it was not only for the diagnosis which challenged my mortality I also cried for the water threatening to ruin the kitchen floor and the inconvenience of not having a working washing machine.

9 months on the washing machine is fixed. I am "fixed" too in medical terms. The cancer has been removed and I've had chemotherapy to blast any indignant lurking cells and I've also had a breast reconstructed. These are physical changes and fixes.

My headspace is a tricky one to navigate though. A cancer diagnosis propels you into a dark unknown which forces you to face your own mortality head on. Whilst medical professionals do their job to " fix" you physically your mental health is not really considered unless you proactively request it. At one of my appointments at the breast clinic I asked for details of counselling service as I knew although I was doing a convincing job of coping I was really struggling underneath.

Fast track to my local cancer centre and I was given my own personal counsellor who was someone who I could trust and confide in. Someone who would not give me platitudes. Someone who would not give me head tilts of sympathy, someone's you I could dump all my concerns and worries on and not hold back for fear of how they would cope with information of any sort. Counselling isn't for everyone but it was for me. Breast cancer from my perspective was like a project. A really horrid project I might add. After diagnosis I decided to treat it like that and throw everything I could at it and counselling was one of those "things" I hit it with. Retail therapy was another thing too but that's another story in it's own right.

So 9 months on after diagnosis again I encountered a wet kitchen floor. This time it was a leak from the bathroom, causing a downpour into the kitchen. The damage was much worse and would require extensive work; an insurance job requiring new floors, ceilings and plasterwork. This time however I didn't cry. I didn't think why me or how unlucky I was or how would I cope with this disaster. After going through breast cancer the fact that I had to have the kitchen ceiling re plastered, bathroom floor redone and my sons room carpet ripped up and relaid due to a flood just didn't register on my Richter scale.

Suffice to say I've gained clarity and perspective going through breast cancer. I'm here to sort out the mess and that's what really matters.

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