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Breast cancer, lumpectomy, wide local excision, mastectomy, triple positive, auxiliary node clearance, needle phobia, disabled children, single mum, laughter, positive thinking, cancer diet, funny, honest, open, chemo, radiotherapy, reconstruction,
I’m home again after 4 of
the very worst days of my life. Up until now I’ve been able to hold things all
together and stay firmly positive and upbeat, but over the past for days in
hospital I completely fell apart emotionally. My friends and family are all
cheering me from the rafters, convinced I’m brave and courageous. Well the past
few days has proved I am a total fraud in the bravery stakes. I was a blubbing,
frightened, vulnerable idiot, making everyone’s life, both nurses and patients,
much harder to cope with.
For the first time, I met
and talked to several women with far more advanced cancers than mine, facing
very depressing likely outcomes and coping with intense pain, and always with
grace, humour and stoicism. These women still found the resources to reach out
to me in my despair and offer me their compassion and comfort which I simply
99% of my trauma was a
direct result of my needle phobia, and I have to confront this somehow and
quickly, or I may reduce my survival chances significantly. I have written
another piece detailing the causes for my intense fears, which I will publish
as a blog as soon as this one is posted. It is long, and quite harrowing, so
please only read it if you really want to.
I was admitted to hospital
on Saturday, because of this wretched infection I had. Despite the 5 days of
antibiotics, it was getting much worse, and the only way of sorting it out
before mastectomy day two days later was intravenous antibiotics. I learnt all this in the space of a rather
Mr Lovely, arrived at my
bedside and told me that I was
definitely going to have to stay in hospital, which also meant no final outing
in front of the world’s cameras for my boobs the following day at the Tennis
Olympics. Then I was rumbled by Mr Lovely, who has been reading my blog, knows
his new nickname, and has been teased all week about it by some of the nurses.
Oops, I nearly died of embarrassment. Then, as if all that wasn’t enough to
ruin my day, I went for a walk in the grounds with WM, and a bird crapped all
over me. Fabulous.
However, Mr Lovely reading
my blog hasn’t been all bad, because he was able to tell me I got it wrong. I
don’t have stage 3C cancer, I have stage 3A, two increments less serious, and
in his view, still eminently treatable. Yippee! In the great scheme of things,
birds are allowed to crap all over me when I’ve just been given really hopeful
good news concerning my longevity.
So on Sunday, my Dad went to
Wimbledon in my place, and all day long everyone there was
texting me so fast and furiously that I couldn’t keep up.
That afternoon 3 special
people came to visit me, and really cheered me up, two good friends and my
Later I had a real treat
when the whole tennis party arrived and texted that they were outside. It was
gone 10pm but the nurses were so cool about it they just said
go and have fun. So we sat in the now deserted canteen while I looked at all
their photos, heard all their stories, and saw the tennis balls autographed by
Andy Murray himself.
It wasn’t until Monday
morning at 8am when it was decided that surgery would actually go
ahead. However, because of the
infection, they didn’t do the portacath, because it has to be done when I am
So it was a bit of a
flat-spin panic to get everything done in time. I had to have a shower using
the “people-bleach” pink stuff to minimise infection, then leg it over to
Nuclear Medicine for a radioactive injection into the left breast so they can
see the order of the lymph nodes on that side. Then rushing again to get back
to the ward, and I was on my way to theatre just after 10am.
I woke up again in the
recovery area about 2 hours later, and I was able to laugh and joke with the
nurses, and even my oxygen levels were good. I credit the spiral-ball toy for
that – I was off oxygen altogether 3 hours after coming around.
Then I got taken back to the
ward, saw my beloved WM, and something just went horribly wrong in my head. I
just dived head-first into some weird sort of anaesthetic-induced depression,
and for the next several hours I sobbed and wailed long, loud and hard, and
really tested poor WM to the limits. He is the most patient, caring, loving man
I know, and I really don’t deserve him.
By early evening I was
OK enough for my dad to bring two of the kids to visit, F and A. Both are
so attentive and worried, although they are coolly trying not to let me see it,
and worst of all, A’s fifteenth birthday was 2 days after my surgery, though in
the end that was the day I came home, which meant that while his birthday
wasn’t exactly the extravagant affair I normally try and arrange, he did have
his mum there for most of it.
Then things progressed fine
until yesterday morning when there was a false alarm about me, and for a couple
of hours they thought I might be haemorrhaging internally, and I was prepped up
to go to theatre all over again. It turned out to be nothing, and I was still
allowed home, but WM came rushing to the hospital because of the emergency
without bringing any clothes for me (the ones I had been wearing had been
crapped on by a bird, remember?!), so I couldn’t leave straight away.
Now I’m at home, and happy,
and feel much better than I ever thought I would so soon after this big surgery.
I still haven’t really been able to take on board that I have a missing boob,
but the little squishy one they’ve given me as a temporary spare is quite
endearing, although I haven’t been brave enough to try it out yet. A friend
earlier came over and spent the entire time stroking in on her lap like a sweet
little animal, and my now 15 year old son was playing catch with it earlier,
until I pointed out that it was a tad inappropriate to play with his mothers
boobs at his age, which made us both laugh.
I also still have a drain
in, a thick plastic tube embedded several inches into my body, collecting and
removing all the blood-stained fluid into a bottle that looks remarkably like a
rather good red wine, so you won’t be seeing me in Sainsburys for a day or two
yet. Then there’s the whole business of sorting me out with more surgery to fit
the portacath, before the chemo adventures can begin. Meanwhile, I have my own
birthday in 10 days time, and wouldn’t it be brilliant if by then I’m ready to
really party at least a little bit?!
Next week I’m off to see Mr
Lovely in clinic again, to find out if the cancer has spread to the left side
lymph nodes. If anyone remembers, please pray, or dance, or sing, or simply
cross your fingers and think of me next Thursday afternoon, because I am
willing with every bone in my body that the answer to that one will be a
resounding “No it hasn’t.”!
Sorry to hear you were feeling down after the op - but this isn't uncommon after a general. Probably not *that* weird :) Speak to someone at the hospital if it lasts, but doesn't sound like it has done.
Hope you're feeling better now, and good luck that week.
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