Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Breast Cancer: Day Four – The Story so Far

Having suffered from serious depression/anxiety [God knows - in fact He probably thinks it was cannabis psychosis] when splitting up with my ex-boyfriend (Mick) about four years ago, this is a totally different kettle of fish. I remember when my first boyfriend (Steve) and his sister (Ang) were told they needed to have their wisdom teeth out. This is more like that; they went in perfectly fine and came out looking like the Hunch Back of Notre Dame. In my case it’ll be more like the Saggy Tit of Stoke Newington. To be honest, if you can’t laugh about it, then you may as well cry, which I don’t find at all useful. And that really is the hilarious thing. I seem to have spent virtually my entire life looking for some reason or another to wallow in self pity, and then the reason finally comes along and it’s the last bloody thing you want to do.

I’m really appreciating even my step brother’s kids. And my step brother/s. And Buxton Pavillion Gardens. The list is endless, but I will continue; B&Q, the Today Programme (now I’ve got Cancer when it annoys me Phil allows me to switch to Capital), the sunshine, the rain, Homerton Hospital.

Meditation is coming into its own: I’m going to dump my membership of the Folio Society (need self help books instead and now I’ve got a legitimate reason), Take the £50 worth of History books I bought from Waterstones on Wednesday back. I’m going to Hypnotherapy tomorrow. Phil is going to manage my pain. I’m going to use every trick in the book to manage fatigue. And I get six months off work. I’ve already done a list of my 100 guests to the evening do of the wedding and got all sorts of people investigating wedding things (Steve’s Dad for example – see above for genetic teeth information).

The most tiring thing so far is telling people. Of course because I had such wonderful news (engagement) two weeks ago, people are still sending me congratulations cards. I’m having to go round them one by one and say ‘Ive got a bit of bad news. I’ve got breast cancer, diagnosed on Friday’.

Slight pause. Then they normally say ‘Oh My God’, Oh Goodness Me (Catholic response) ‘What?’ (Sound of car crashing/screeching to a halt) ‘No’ ‘I can’t believe it’ (very common and this is the sort of response I would give) ‘I don’t know what to say’.

Then I take on a sort of Doctor-ish authorative air, putting them at their ease. Saying ‘Well It’s a grade 2 lump, Two centimetres, I will have to have surgery and radiotherapy, and it’ll be taken out a week on Thursday, but we find out the test results from today on Friday which determines the extent of surgery and whether I have to have chemo or not so I’ll ring you back then’.

Then there’s another five minutes of them saying ‘I can’t believe it’ sound of sobbing, croaky voice, complaints of hangover/just coming of shower which explains their shakiness etc etc. 95% of the time they say ‘Well you’ve caught it early’ which they assume they have because I’m only 32. Then I say ‘Well actually it’s not that early because the earliest to catch the lumps are by mammogram which aren’t routinely done on anyone our age as it’s considered too risky. It would be Grade One if I got it on a mammogram and it’s grade Two’.

Then we have a little chat about the wedding. Definitely Hollinsclough Chapel. A few jokes about this and that. Then, because I’ve told them some horrific news, they start revealing theirs. But I actually quite like that. Mine is worse and at the moment I can talk about it as though I’m talking about what to do about the greenfly problem on my climbing rose.

Phil keeps on saying ‘It’s so unfair’. But I think it’s fine. I wouldn’t wish illness or suffering on my worst enemy (don’t think they exist anyway) but there couldn’t be a better prepared patient. In fact Phil said ‘You’ve just been waiting for a disease and now it’s happened’ which I thought was slightly unfair, but I’m (almost) an accredited tutor on the Expert Patient Programme, got heaps of experience of Health care and Phil is now my fiancee. He is suggesting that if there is a worse case scenario (get given 18 months to live next week) that we bring the wedding forward – ie to next month. I think having a wedding to look forward to might help me get better.

If I could just get more people involved in ‘Keep our NHS Public’ then my mind would be at rest…


Beckie Woodland said...

Hi Anna,

It is Beckie - the better part of the Beckie and Matt Duo :-)

I have just read your blog and am shocked at your news. And yes, if I spoke to you I would say and do all those things that you have mentioned as the common responses to your news.

I am so sorry to hear your news, and have all my fingers and toes crossed for the results of your test on Friday and your surgery next week. I apologise for responding to your blog rather than contacting your in another way, but I don't have your number and I felt so moved that I thought I would drop you a little note on here.

You are sounding amazingly composed and positive about everything - I truely believe that this is the best way to cope in this kind of situation.

I will be in contact very soon (once I find out how via N&R!).

All my love and best wishes,


tatton said...

Thanks Bex! ;)

The test was inconclusive. The 'suspcious' thing they saw on the end of a lymphnode was too small (the size of a small coffee bean, 4mm) to get any concrete evidence. So I will be going to surgery on Thursday 22nd June at Homerton Hospital and they'll be taking out the lump and a few lymph nodes etc to properly check them. So I may have to have chemo still which is obviously sub optimal.

I'm doing every alternative therapy in the book to help deal with anxiety and aid relaxation, but generally Life is Sweet.
(Trying to get Phil to go to Alexander Technique on Saturday!)