My year of anniversary's continues and whilst these dates mean little, if anything to family and friends I'm finding myself re-living and re-feeling (if that's a thing) some pretty life changing events from a year ago. On the whole I'm a fairly forward looking person and I am feeling positive and excited about the future but also just now, and I think, for a little while, I'll have one eye looking back - just a year...!!
The Then : So, it was a year ago yesterday that it I had my appointment at the breast clinic at the local hospital. It was the weirdest feeling! I was trying to keep the whole feeling light hearted .... this could still be all a big nothing, false-alarm, over reaction! I was obviously just kidding myself but it made it easier to get myself there and to walk into the hospital! Again, due to it being April 2020, I had to go alone. The hospital was deserted. Obviously, I was wearing a mask and had to sanitise my hands, there was a receptionist waiting just inside the entrance and she took some details from me and directed me where to go. It's a hospital I'd been in numerous times for different reasons but his was just the oddest thing - there was just nobody there... It was like I was in some kind of zombie movie and I'd come across a deserted hospital which I could raid for supplies...!!!!
I found the right place - which had some people in it - and check in with reception. I obviously looked somewhat overwhelmed as the lovely receptionist was so apologetic that she couldn't put her arm around me or give me a hug. I filled out her paperwork and perched on the edge of my seat waiting to be called. When I saw the doctor, she felt my boob - acknowledged the lump and told me I'd have to have further tests. Normally when the NHS tell you that you need further tests, you know you're going to be waiting for a least a couple of weeks but she meant now - like right now! She gave me a grey plastic folder, which had my paperwork in it and gave me directions to where I needed to go to get a mammogram and an ultrasound and a biopsy!! All three of them - right now!!
The mammogram was first and this was my first ever mammogram. Oww!!! It was uncomfortable and undignified. Trying to squash my fairly ample boobs between those two metal plates whilst keeping my arm out of the way, which meant standing at a twisty angle is not something I'm looking forward to repeating. After that I sat on a chair in the corridor to wait for the ultrasound. I felt edgy and uncomfortable - not just because of the tests I was having but Covid was a fairly new thing, we were in lockdown 1 and I really didn't want to be out and sitting in a hospital corridor. It just felt like everything was wrong - just wrong, wrong, wrong.
Turns out the mammogram had shown that it wasn't just the one lump and the lady doing the ultra-sound had been advised via my grey plastic folder, which I was still carrying around, to scan both sides of my boob. There was another lump - one I couldn't feel, it was too deep. This was not good news and I just felt really numb. Whilst I knew it wasn't good news, I didn't know what it would mean.
A man came in to do the biopsy - I can't remember why, not sure if I knew then, but there were other people there too. I know at least one of them was a surgeon. There were 5 people eventually around the bed whilst they performed 2 biopsies - one of each side of my boob. I remember I cried at that point. Not loudly, just that silent, eyes appear to be leaking, kinda crying. Once they had all left and it was just me and the ultra-sound lady again and I was getting dressed I said to her "It doesn't look good does it?". She said she couldn't confirm but no, no it didn't look good.
I went back to the breast clinic and had another appointment with the doctor but this time she had a nurse in with her as well. The nurse had leaflets for me...... things like, How to Tell Your Kids You Have Cancer and stuff about MacMillan. The doctor explained to me that she would have to wait for the official biopsy results to be 100% sure but in her experience I was probably going to need surgery. It would be about 2 weeks before biopsy results would be in. She said heaps of other stuff too but I've no idea what....
I left there in a complete daze and again, thanks to Covid, feeling and actually being very alone. Thankfully, the lady at the front door, saw me and asked how the appointment had gone - I couldn't actually speak. She was so kind. She took me off into a side room, brought me a cup of coffee and sat with me for a little while. She said I could stay there until I was ready to drive home. I made two phone calls. The first was to a friend who knew about the situation, we had been for a few walks together in the days since my first doctors appointment. I sobbed a bit on the phone, realism had just hit me, a bit hard. The second call was difficult to make -it was to my husband, who was at home with the kids. Our kids who still had no idea. Looking back now, it was the harshest thing to do but at the time, I just needed him to know and I also needed him to ensure that the children didn't. The first thing I told him was to make sure that he didn't change his tone or his facial expression and that if he needed to, he should tell the kids that he was go to the shop or something and go out. Then I told him that yes, I had breast cancer. I couldn't come home just yet as I'd been crying and when I did get home, I wouldn't be mentioning it - not till they were asleep. I don't remember what I did or where I went but it was a while before I arrived home. I think I managed to look and act perfectly normally for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Later, I told my husband about what had happened and we pretty much agreed there really wasn't anything more to be done until we had the biopsy results.
The Now: Yesterday I had the 2nd of 6 acupuncture sessions at the hospital. It is supposed to help with joint pain and hot-flushes which are symptoms of the chemo induced menopause and the hormone blocking medication I'm now reluctantly taking. The doctor/acupuncturist said it can also help with improving mood and although I've just written you a fairly depressing blog to read, my mood is actually much improved from a week or so ago. I'm hoping that it can help with the aches and pains in my feet and hands. Although this morning, I have woken with a really painful hip joint - it's a really sharp stabbing pain deep inside the joint. My body does feel as though it has aged about 20 years in the last few weeks, I'm assuming that the aches and pains will ease and my body will feel like mine again at some point!
Oh my god!!! I've actually depressed myself re-reading all that - I'm so sorry but in fairness it was a pretty shitty day a year ago.. Things really are a whole heap better now, just got to learn to deal with 'different'.
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