“I’m sorry, the test results confirm that it is Breast Cancer”
It was like being pushed off of a cliff into the sea far below.
The words pushed me over the edge and then there was the long silent fall until I hit the water where all the words became garbled and incoherent. I couldn’t think straight, my brain felt so tired and dizzy all of a sudden. I was prepared for the worst, but it still hit me like a tonne of bricks.
Every time I came up for air the surgeon was saying something awful, crazy or completely unexpected which pulled me back under water. “As you are so petite, we will probably not be able to save your breast so it will be a mastectomy. The question is really whether it will be a single or double mastectomy at this stage” The water filled my ears and thoughts, I couldn’t hear anything. I appeared calm on the outside but on the inside it was chaos. I will look like a freak, Frankenstein, operations? Yuk! How do they even do it? She said it like it was nothing, like it was trimming a fingernail or something!
I struggled back up for air to find her saying “Are you happy with the number of children you have? Did you want anymore?” What an odd question and a bit off topic I thought! I thought we were past the general chit chat by this point! “Not really, the kids I have are quite enough thanks” I said. “That’s a relief, ” She said, “as you won’t be able to have any more children after all of this”. A wave hit me and dragged me under. This is a life changing event, my poor body, I don’t think I want any more kids, do I? I’m only 35! Her mouth was moving but I couldn’t really hear anything.
Deep breath as I came up for air again, what on earth will she come out with next I wondered. “You will lose your hair, but it will grow back” OMG I hadn’t even thought about that, I’m going to look like an alien! Stand out like a sore thumb. What will the neighbours and the kids at school say? I could imagine the kids all pointing and laughing when I went to pick my son up. How awful, I don’t wear hats! I will scare my own children! (It’s amazing what runs through your mind isn’t it?) That scary wig shop in the hospital suddenly became part of my reality. How did all of this happen?
I was lost in thought, fighting the underwater current when I noticed that she was still talking! “The cancer has touched a lymph node so we don’t know if or how far it has spread through your body. We need to do MRI and CT scans next week to determine this”. This was a massive shove under water. This formed a gap in knowledge that couldn’t be filled until the scan results came in.
This was the worst part of it all because it allowed the brain to fill in the gap with all of the horrors and bad thoughts it possibly could. The rest was later filled in by Google and that is never good! Could it have spread? Or could it have grown? It could be everywhere? It could be nowhere! Nobody knows! They told me I have cancer, but couldn’t tell me how much or what stage. Utter terror then sets in, it’s unknown and paralyzing.
On the outside I was so cool and calm I unnerved them. On the inside, I felt like I wanted to crawl out of my skin and leave it all behind for someone else to go through instead of me. Emerge from it all like a butterfly, fly off into the sunset and leave behind this disgusting looking husk of a cocoon behind.
A Silver Lining
“Did you have your children by Caesarean?” she asked. What an odd question that was!! What is she going on about now? What has that got to do with anything? “Yes I did, why?” I replied. “We can reconstruct your breast from your own tissue” she continued “we can take fat from your tummy and put it back into the breast”. I brightened up a little, this was sounding an awful lot like liposuction and a boob job on the NHS to me! 😀 A silver lining at last! Pass me that cake would you? I have a new boob to grow!
The Nurse looked me straight in the eye and said “Louisa, don’t worry, there is nothing we can’t deal with, you will be fine, you WILL get through this”. A wave of confidence flooded over me, I felt like I was in very experienced hands and that they will be doing their best. Her confidence and conviction stilled everything. I could see the surgeon was so methodical about everything because she did it all the time, just another day in the office to her. She fixes this sort of thing every day. She knew exactly what she was doing.
The nurse walked us out and bid us farewell. She is my appointed Nurse and is there to answer any thing I need when I need her which was reassuring.
After all of this, I felt a little run down (well run over with a steam roller would be more like it!) so we went to the café. I thought I deserved a Cream Tea, but he misheard me and gave me a Green Tea!! Doesn’t he know I have a new boob to grow? I made him change it, I wasn’t going to put up with a green tea while that clotted cream grinning at me through the glass!
Deep breath, I can do this. Plenty of women have survived this and I will too. I had a new appreciation for women all of a sudden. I saw a magazine with a beautiful older lady on the front, she looked so strong and wise, it made me think how strong we can be. We have endured so many things before and together I truly believe we can do anything!
My mentor’s words of wisdom came to mind, he says “When life serves you a massive truck load of manure, find something good to grow out of it” With this in mind I wanted to focus on what good I could grow out of all this. I wanted to help shine a light on what is coming for other women going through the same thing. If I could show the path, give tips along the way and open up my positivity to lift others too, then it would be a worthy thing to grow. This is what I want to do here, If you know anyone who it might help, please share this to help me help them!