I receive an unexpected call from the consultant’s secretary asking me to go and see him for an appointment the following afternoon at the private hospital. He’s a really lovely chap. He came out to greet me and asked me how I was as we walked to the room.
“I’m good, thanks. How are you?”
He was a little taken aback. I think both about my response and also my question to him. I guess not many people ask the doctor how he is. He asked me if I knew why he’d asked me to come in for an appointment. I shook my head. He proceeded to tell me that he asked me to come back so that he could explain again what would happen but that also in all the years of him doing this and delivering bad news to people he hadn’t ever experienced a reaction like mine yesterday. How lovely. I guess he thought that I was in shock and maybe hadn’t really heard or understood just how BIG this is – how lovely of him, but this is indicative of the type of caring man he is. I explained that I’d known since Christmas Eve and had done all my crying and wailing waiting for the results, so the fact that I wasn’t terminal was really the only thing that mattered – I could cope with everything else. I know it won’t be nice, BUT I’m a battler and I will win. He smiled, and in truth, I’m not sure he knew quite what to make of me.
I’m still trying to ascertain the best way to deliver my happy news en masse.
Recognising that I would be needing a wig sent me out shopping – I know I’m a girl but I really dislike shopping at the best of times. I’d like you to say out loud, “I need to buy a wig because I’m going to be bald.” Bloody awful, isn’t it? That’s my current reality and forgive the pun but something it’s going to take me time to get my head around. The wig shop I went to was closed. How? On a bloody Saturday? Anyway, I got the number off the internet of a place in Cambridge called Scruffs and made an appointment to go and get fitted. NOT what I thought my January would be looking like. I’m still trying to ascertain the best way to deliver my happy news en masse. I’ve got loads of people to tell, family, friends, and clients. Now I’ve test driven a couple of approaches on a couple friends over the weekend. Their reactions ranged from sharing with me every case study feedback of everyone she’s ever heard of ever that’s had ever had breast cancer – with varying degrees of outcome (not overly helpful or inspiring if I’m truthful) – to considerate thoughtful comments from people who had seriously thought through what to say. So what’s the best, most consistent message that’s concise and gets me the outcome that I need, which is normality. I need normality. As I mentioned before, I do not want a pity party. So, the plan. AN EMAIL.
Yes, I know you just cringed. It’s the most impersonal, thoughtless and horrific way to deliver the news BUT I need you to consider this. I’ve learnt that people only hear a little bit of what you say when they go into shock and then some of them make the rest of it up to suit themselves. This is not what I need and frankly, I’m literally not built to keep repeating myself. It’s boring… oh, and it just makes it that tad more real.
It’s also dawning on me that I need to sort out the work situation and get my old manager back. We’ve kept in touch and her Facebook posts about work aren’t exactly inspiring so fingers crossed she comes back. It’s not going to be too much of a problem to meet up with her, but I’m going to have to admit to her that I NEED her. Now that’s going to be a tough one, but I’ll worry about that later.
Now back to the hair situation – someone suggested to me that I did a ‘brave the shave’ and raise some money for charity – what a fabulous idea. I’m big into charity and over the last 6 years have raised over £38,000 through charity balls that we’ve held through work, so it’s a superb suggestion AND it means I’m taking control and not waiting for the imminent hair falling out trauma.
So by January 18th I bite the bullet and write and send my email to my friends and family and then have an anxiety attack – I’m literally papping my pants, unsure what to expect as I press send.
Firstly I’m really sorry to send this news to you via email but as you read this you’ll understand why.
I found out on Christmas Eve that I had a form of breast cancer……excellent Christmas present……I got the detail last week of what it is and what needs to happen. The only thing I’m really bothered about is that I won’t die…..well not from this anyway………so for me, anything else I can cope with. So the plan: I need chemo, then an op and then radio. I had every intention of not telling anyone but as I’m about to lose my hair I think there’s a slim chance people might notice lol.
We all deal with things differently and all need different things in situations like this. What I need above everything is normality. I have no desire to go over the detail of it, the repetition bores me, the conversation is negative. I won’t die from it……nothing else matters in my head. I’ve got great support from my closest friends whom I intend to rant at if the mood takes me lol. The boys are fine, understandably upset but we’re close so have each other. I’ve sorted some support for them and told their schools…..pisser timing wise with A levels and GSCEs but they’ll get special dispensation……not like our day hey?
What I need from you. Nothing other than how you usually are with me. If I see you daily, weekly, monthly or annually great let’s keep it that way. I don’t want or need sympathy or a poor me badge it won’t fix me and the negativity of it won’t inspire me at all, I have everything I need with my support team….lucky buggers hey??. I know you’ll want to help and I appreciate that enormously but you’ll help me by being the same with me….nothing has changed I just have a new challenge to deal with that’s all……oh and I’ll be fucking bald……I need positivity and happy conversation please ….lots of laughter. I’m sure I’ll have shit days but doesn’t everyone? this just gives me a great excuse that’s all.
I can’t cope with being fussed over or being told what to do. I don’t need to hear about case studies of who survived and who didn’t. This will sort, it’ll be fine just bloody inconvenient and did I mention I’ll be bald? FFS!!! Because of this, I’ve decided to shave my hair off and to do it for charity, before I lose it and would be grateful if you would sponsor me…this way I don’t need to advertise to the world my situation….. I’ll email the detail when I’ve had time to set it up….. It will be to coincide with the start of the chemo. I will NOT be advertising this on Facebook and would be extremely grateful if you could all avoid putting anything on there relating to my condition please and respect my request to not advertise this to the world. I want to contain this as much as possible for a gobby cow I hate everyone knowing my business.
So it’s not the best news I guess BUT for me, I’m genuinely thrilled……two weeks wondering if you might have a terminal illness means this news is brilliant. I’m fixable……nothing else matters.
Hope all’s well with you all and I’ll see you when I do. Again – forgive me for emailing ….but my time’s a bit sparse at the moment with the hospital demanding my attendance lol 😃
You can imagine the variety of the replies I got, but I have to say on the whole I got exactly what I’d hoped for. Strong, positive supportive responses.
So having decided to shave my head for charity – not only for great causes but it saved me the horror of it falling out in the shower. I am not emotionally equipped to deal with that. So I set up a ‘giving’ page and tried to be rather clever about how I worded the ‘sponsor me’ bit on the page. Someone had very kindly shared it on Facebook (they meant well, I know they did), but there was a comment on there about me having the big C, so my fabulous idea about keeping it to myself wasn’t really working. So Facebook erupted, I decided I would just have to brave the whole thing and so I posted this:
I’m getting braver and figured I’d better just suck it up and get on with it. I can’t begin to find the words to describe how it’s made me feel. I’ve had the loveliest comments, messages, texts and emails, and my money begging page has been shared by loads of people. I’m truly humbled, overwhelmed and dumbstruck by how benevolent people are. WOW.