My journey started six weeks ago and I am only at the beginning of what will be and interesting few months ahead, with no doubt some ups and downs but I am extremely strong in the belief that it is a mere blip in my life and that 2016 is going to be a very good year for me.
So, turn back the clock six weeks when I identified a lump on my right breast and immediately headed off to the doctor and was fast tracked within 10 days to an appointment at The Royal Marsden Hospital.
I had a mammogram and nothing showed up, the excuse was I was too tall for the machine – really was my response. So, next it was a scan and that showed the lump and immediately I was told it was 2cm and not a cyst and immediately had a biopsy which was interesting, as the sound of the test was like a staple gun and they did three times!
Then it was to meet the doctor who would be my surgeon and she said that she was 85% sure it was Cancer but would confirm to me two days later once results back. The next 48 hours were sleepless but to be honest in my hearts of hearts I knew the outcome and my immediate reaction was, just cut it off. She then explained in detail, that it was the most common breast cancer and that I had caught it early and it was a simple operation where they would remove the lump and that I was lucky with its location from a cosmetic point of view. It all seemed so final, but as she explained, 1 in 8 women of my age get breast cancer and every case is unique, something I heard about 18 months ago when my mother was diagnosed however the success rate is very high. Having experienced breast cancer with my mother 23 years ago when she was 46, I wasn’t totally surprised of what to expect however she opted for a mastectomy and never had further treatment.
It didn’t really sink in initially but I knew I had to be strong and be logical and I think the fact that I have been working at Maggie’s helped, as I had spoken to some amazing ladies while getting stories for Culture Crawl who had come out the other side as they say. However, when I went to go to Maggie’s West London to get information and speak to one of the nurses it wasn’t easy, as suddenly I was the patient and not the volunteer who made coffee and tea around the kitchen table, but once I had taken the plunge it was fine and I know that this centre will become part of my healing process.
My first thought was not of death but what would happen to my new relationship and would /should I tell him that he doesn’t need to stay with me. Stupid maybe but my insecurities started to raise their head however, when I told him I got an unexpected but expected response which was, I will be at your side the whole way and as a result we have got closer.
Who knows what journey I am about to embark on and I know for sure that I do not want sympathy and to be wrapped in cotton wool. Christmas is going to be hard enough to deal with, with my sister’s separation and the kids first Christmas without their Dad and it is really the first Christmas without Mum. But we have Christmas sorted and I am looking forward to having some long walks and catching up with friends.
I now have my perfect job lined up working for a military charity, Coming Home (Haig Housing Trust) helping wounded serviceman with adapting their homes which will be three days a week. And, the servicemen that we help are inspirational and if they can come back after loosing limbs to lead a normal life, I will come out the other side too.
My flat is finally all sorted after the summer leaks and after an initial nightmare when I chose the wrong paint colour, wanting a champagne tone however, not realising I had in fact chosen a pink which was definitely not happening. So, in stepped a girlfriend and now I have ‘pebble’ which is stunning and has created warmth which is what I needed.
So far the Royal Marsden have been amazing and as next Tuesday gets closer when I have the operation, I am sure the anxious thoughts I am having will start to raise their heads but the Cancer nurses will be on hand as will my friends who have all been rocks.
I have had a dream a couple of times since I was diagnosed, where I am the lion in the Wizard of Oz, so this weekend I will be downloading the film and watching it as, it must have a meaning.
Why have I written this post, well I needed to share my experience and I have always found it easier to write it down than to talk? For some, they may not believe that, but while I nursed my mother through Cancer what kept me sane were the weekly emails to all friends and family with the ups and the downs as nothing is black and white.
Best of luck! Sending you all good thoughts.
Hello Sarah. I am so sorry about your news. I appreciate your suffering and concerns. My lady friend of 23 years (she is 68) standing had a similar lump removed in September 2014. She is insured so she had treatment since then at the Harley Street Clinic – lump removed, 14 months of chemo, a week of radiotherapy and now she is on numerous pills. She has put on weight of course and lacks sleep. However we look on the positive side that a cure has been achieved. She is good humoured and cares more about her little chihuahua than herself. Very entertaining.
I hope you have a happy Christmas Sarah. All the best. Michael Waugh