After a few weeks I returned to hospital to have the bandages removed. This evoked a whole range of emotions, relief, anxiety, dread even.
Myself and my husband met with my consultant and breast care nurse in the room in which it all began.
Behind a curtain they asked me to remove my top and gently removed my bandages.
It’s hard for me to put into words the next part because the results were amazing. The scars were barely visible and because I had opted for a nipple sparing mastectomy (a relatively new procedure) my new breast appeared almost symmetrical, although you could tell the right one was implant only.
I said thank you and tried to smile, because I was thankful, very thankful at what this lady had achieved. The results were fantastic.
My breast care nurse asked if I was ok as I seemed a little quiet.
Maybe it was the resulting conversation that got to me, I’m not sure. The consultant explained that only three of my lymph nodes had been removed (which is a good thing) as the cancerous cells had not spread beyond this point, however the grade of the tumour had been higher than expected. The new grade, coupled to my age meant that chemotherapy was now an option for me.
That was the last day I saw my consultant, and I gave her and my nurse a small bag of treats and cards to say thank you. She made me laugh as she said, ‘Don’t make me cry, this is why girls shouldn’t be able to do things like this!’. Ah so true, because as I have already explained, that lady completely got it – an accolade to her true expertise.
Finally, we sat down with my breast care nurse to discuss further options and ‘what happens next’. She was fairly upbeat and my husband was relieved also. But I cried, not a lot, but the tears fell, much to both of their surprise. The relief and anxiety washed over me, and in a way the news about the possibility of chemotherapy was also hitting me.
I always knew my tumour was borderline and I was made fully aware of the possibilities of all treatment, but when the facts hit you – you realise that ‘it is what it is’ – right down to the wire. No one, it seems can control cancer they can only provide you with the best treatment they have available.
Looking back I think I was naive about the bullshit. You see, more of it hits you when you least expect – and you have to ‘man up’ and deal with it the best way that you can…