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Well, that didn’t go to plan. . .

Results Day, Friday 17th September 2021

I don’t really know what I expected to be told on Friday. I think I thought they would say, it’s all gone, a couple of shots of radiotherapy then you can get on with your life – you’ll have beaten cancer. They did tell me that the margins around Lenny the Lump were clear and that they’d removed 16 lymph nodes, 6 of which had cancer in them, so that’s good, right?

I should have told the surgeon to stop talking right there because what came next was a shocker.

I didn’t expect to be told I needed another operation to remove a further ‘rogue’ lymph node, which is separate from the ones they’d taken from under my arm and is cancerous.

This will then be followed by 6 months of chemotherapy, in 4 – 5 week cycles.

A further 4 weeks Radiotherapy plus CT & bone scans throughout to make sure it isn’t spreading.

All of the above depends on the results of an initial CT scan and bone scan which should take place this week.

All in all, I’m looking at 12 – 18 months of treatment.

I have a further appointment on Thursday with the oncology team as well having to self isolate ahead of a Covid test on Monday, ready for the operation next Wednesday.

I’ve taken time over the weekend to let it all sink in, but honestly I’m not sure it ever will. It’s a lot, right? It’s not a blip, a something to worry about later kind of thing?

Just don’t ask me how I feel because I honestly couldn’t tell you. I really don’t know. I’m not upset (I don’t think) and I am the kind of person that ‘just gets on with it’ so for now, for today that’s my attitude. Let’s get on with it. Let’s do this. Let’s beat this motherfucker and kick it’s ass to the kerb.

Yeah, that’s how I feel today.

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You’ve Got This – a rant

Why this & other similar bullshit should be banned

I’m not going to lie, I’ve used this countless times. I may as well have had it tattooed on my bloody forehead at one point. It’s not until it’s been said to you no less than 100 times a day that I realised what a patronising, bullshit thing to say.

No, I fucking haven’t..

I wonder what people would say if I turned round to them and said that?

I get it. It’s a failsafe thing to say when, well you haven’t got anything else to say. I know it’s said with the best intention. I know it comes for a good place. I know it means people care. Yes, yes, yes I get all that…. but seriously, what if I haven’t got this? What if shit is so fucking bad, I haven’t ‘got’ anything at all other than a shitload on my plate and no idea how to move forward?

Have you any idea how much pressure that phrase carries?

Don’t get me wrong, most days, I have ‘got this’. Most days I have a handle on everything, but there are days when I’ve got fuck all but a sofa underneath me and Homes Under The Hammer on the TV.

Thing is, you can’t tell people not to say to you without coming across as a real ungrateful bitch. I just smile politely, or send a love heart emoji in reply whilst simultaneously thanking (cursing) the person. It’s not their fault after all, they do mean well, their intention is well-intended but I’d rather they turned round and said..

Fuck me, how the hell are you going to deal with that?

What a bag of bollocks that is, can I make you a brew?

Don’t know what to say love, let’s go smash something to bits.

Honesty is what I need in my life right now. Honesty with a pinch of humour. If you have said it to me, I thank you – I genuinely do. I’m flattered that you care, I worry that you’re worried. I understand that it’s hard to know what to say when someone hits you with devastating news, but please, for the love of the Universe, don’t tell me I’ve got this! Tell me I’m one unlucky bitch, tell me that I’ve been dealt a really shitty hand, tell me that you won’t laugh when I lose all my hair or that you’ll come wig shopping with me. Just don’t tell me I’ve got this!

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All Is Well

And Still I Rise

12th July 2021 I was diagnosed with Grade 1 Ductal Carcinoma. I mean, if you’re going to get breast cancer, then this is the one that’s most treatable. It’s low grade. Slow growing and had probably been there for years.

Lenny the lumpy lodger wasn’t the issue. The issue was with my lymph nodes, which as far as the breast is concerned live in the armpit (Axilla). The ultra sound showed that the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes, so they had to come out too. In fact, the doctor seemed more concerned with those than the lump.

But I’m racing ahead so let me back the truck up.

Lenny the lump was found through a NHS breast screening that all women are invited to take when they reach 50. I’m one of those women that obligingly go along to cervical screenings, have a regular flu jab etc, so going to the breast screening was never going to be an issue for me.

I completely forgot about it after i’d been. Just ticked it off the personal admin list as a done and got on with life – which was pretty hectic to be fair. My dad had recently come home from hospital to receive palliative care through his end stage heart failure and mum, who I had long suspected had a dementia, had a ministroke. I’m not going to talk about their issues as it’s not for me to tell their story, but it is interwoven with my own, so I will mention it from time to time. Anyway, it was pretty obvious that mum couldn’t care for dad on her own, so I had moved in with her by the time I received my letter for a second assessment. I wasn’t shocked, really. It was the first ‘on the record’ screening of my boobs, and I suspected they had picked up on an old scar / scar tissue that sits under my left boob. I had open heart surgery when I was about 6 months old and the stitches never dissolved as they should have done, and although they weren’t painful, I could still feel them just under the skin (my party trick for a lot of years was whipping up my top and ‘popping’ the stitches out of the crevis, it was gross!)

Anyway, that’s all it was so I took the husband along for moral support. The oncologist did the ultrasounds, stopped the machines, called my husband in and told it was cancer. Just like that. Oh, she was absolutely lovely and took her time, but she knew instantly what she was looking at and told me straightaway. She said that there was swelling in my armpit and she thought it had spread so they did biopsies (imagine the sound of a hole punch, except it’s in your boob!) and took samples from the armpit as well.

I left the hospital a hot mess. I was fulltime carer for mum and dad, my son was getting married in 3 days time and I had a book to finish.

Talk about a shitstorm.

I initially thought not to tell my son until after the wedding, but we are close, incredibly close and my intention went out of the window when I heard his voice. he deserved to know the truth. he could probably tell by my voice anyway as I had cried a river since hearing the news. He was brave, he was stoical, he was as I had raised him to be; supportive, encouraging and did I mention brave?

The wedding took place on Friday 16th July 2021. It was without a doubt the most magical day. In all honesty, it was the last day that I truly let myself go and felt complete and utter joy.