New Year’s Day

January 1st turns out to be a great day. I feel like I achieve a lot. I’ve written some pages for this blog, I’ve taken the boys out for a last-minute lunch – basically, I’d forgotten to buy some food to cook for today – can’t imagine what had distracted me? Anyway, we went out and had a really good laugh. I’ve explained to them that we need to be prepared for the fact I’ve most probably got cancer and that there will be some treatment of some description. If you have kids you’d probably do exactly what I did which is tell them a version of the facts. I don’t lie nor would I, but what’s the point of telling your kids half a story? I explained that I get the result on Thursday. Bless, they thought a letter would come through the post. I explained that I have to go to the hospital and they asked if they could come with me. NO CHANCE. Bloody hell, I’ll need time to work out how best to manage myself through the process before I share with them what’s going to happen.

Doing the things I’m in control of has really helped me to keep my thinking and emotions on track.

I’m looking forward to going to work as, to be truthful, having all this time off to fester and think isn’t helpful for me. I’ve done everything I can do to fill my time and meet up with friends and dog walks, etc., but I still have way too much time to think. Monday will be great – I’ve staff training to do, oh, and I have to nip to court in Grantham to stand as a reference for one of my team. I think she’s a book in her own right! But today has been a good day. Doing the things I’m in control of has really helped me to keep my thinking and emotions on track. I woke in the night but wasn’t plagued by the horror thoughts of previous nights.

I feel a little bit like the lump is not really part of my body and that by touching it I’m making it real or helping it to grow.

Sugar. Now there’s a lot in the press at the moment about refined sugar being bad for us and it being linked to cancer. Fortunately, I don’t have a sweet tooth but strangely I started eating more sugary things early December. It might be relevant, it might not, but it does seem a bit odd to me that I’ve eaten so much more and now have cancer. I must remember to bring this up at my next appointments.

Now it’s odd, but since the biopsy, I’ve not wanted to feel my lump, which by the way was described by my GP as being the size of a plum, but I do have big boobs. Well, at the moment I have, I’m currently unsure of their long term fate!

I feel a little bit like the lump is not really part of my body and that by touching it I’m making it real or helping it to grow. What’s also bizarre is that when I wake up in the night I can “feel” my boob. Not with my hands but just as I lay there I can feel it – if you’ve ever suffered with ‘irritable legs,’ you’ll know it’s a weird feeling. You notice your legs, but day to day you don’t really notice your body as individual components. Yet as I lay there in the night I can feel my boob – it’s the oddest thing. It does ache a bit but then again it has been abused somewhat recently.

Hideous Decisions

Monday 4th January

Oh my God – back to work today. It’s been superb, I can’t tell you what a fab day I’ve had. Everything was normal, no one knows, I trained the team and they had a superb afternoon… just fab. I spoke to my business coach and explained why I had to change our appointment from Thursday morning. He doesn’t count by the way, regarding who I’m going to tell, but I needed to tell him because what we do together is effected by my health and the decisions I make about the business are arguably crucial right now.

We did the pleasantries.

“Stuart, sorry to be a pain but can we change the appointment on Thursday I’m sorry to be difficult but I’ve got a hospital appointment that I must attend.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, Vicki. Nothing serious, I hope?”

“Erm… well, I’ve got a bit of breast cancer, so yes I think you could say it’s serious but I won’t know till Thursday what I need to deal with. But I’m sure it’ll be fine – well, it has to be I’ve way too much to fit in.”

SILENCE then, “Oh no that’s awful, you sound like you’ve got a cough too.”

“Yes, well, let’s hope it’s not bloody lung cancer too, hey?!”

“Did you have a good Christmas?” he asked.

“Well, not really, no. I found out on Christmas Eve so possibly not the best present I’ve ever had.”

I had a thought today that it’s only three more sleeps until my boob knows its fate. Odd really that it’s something you count down to. It’s usually for something exciting like a holiday or a special event, a birthday perhaps or a wedding. My thoughts are odd. I feel very much in control though and like there’s nothing wrong with me. When I found myself in the waiting room at the court today for one of my staff (yes, I saved her from a fate worse than death…prison) watching, not from choice, the BBC news, I saw something called Victoria something or other. She’s having chemo and is taking a day to day video of her hair loss journey. If I’m dead honest, I’m not really sure how I feel about it. I get it. I get the idea but shit it’s SO depressing!!! Why would anyone want to watch something so desperately sad and morose? Jesus, I’ll be avoiding that like the plague.

It’s true that sometimes you don’t realise what you’ve got till it’s gone.

Tuesday 5th January

The 5th of January has just been a fucking battle from beginning to end. I have had to contend with a whole host of garbage at work from staff claiming: “Oh, I didn’t think.” “Oh, I hadn’t thought that might happen.” Hideous decisions made without any common sense whatsoever. Really, very frustrating. Our old manager had left in November to pursue a different career – I think we need her back. Since she’s gone it’s been a complete disaster and more than I can contend with. It’s true that sometimes you don’t realise what you’ve got till it’s gone. I need to arrange to see her I think.

I’m almost lost for words. There’s nothing right now that will help me to get over just how fucking cross I am.

Today also included a stupid cyclist who seemed to think undertaking and overtaking in the dark with poor lights and lots of traffic was fine. I wonder if I’ll see him without limbs next week at the hospital? Then to cap it all, I came home to a letter from the hospital telling me my appointment has been put back to Friday. Yup, logically I know it’s only a day but the focus on this one date THE 7th January has been immense. I’d cancelled all my appointments from Thursday to the fucking Friday. I’m almost lost for words. There’s nothing right now that will help me to get over just how fucking cross I am. They have NO IDEA how this makes people feel. If it’s spread I swear I’m going to lose it with someone there.

The good news today? Oh, there isn’t any – so in addition to being awake most of the night on Wednesday deciding I’m terminally ill and have weeks to live, I manage to get through a manic busy day at work, missing a number of calls from a ‘no caller ID’, I never answer these I don’t have a landline at home because I want the option to screen my calls. Anyway, I get into work on Thursday – with a feeling it must be the hospital – no message left, I might add, but no one would ring 8 times if it wasn’t urgent. So I called the specialists PA who said it was probably just to check that I’d got the letter about the change to Friday – thank God.

Two more missed calls Thursday morning. I finally get to answer the phone and I‘m informed by someone ‘from appointments’ that they were putting my appointment back to next Wednesday. I nearly self-combusted.

“NO, YOU’RE NOT!” I said. “I’m not having this, it’s been put back once already and I’ve had to change three clients’ appointments – which means I lose business, now I’ve had to change them AGAIN because it moved to Friday now you’re telling me I’ll have to change all the Wednesday appointments too – I can’t run my life like this. NO, I’m coming in tomorrow.” I was livid.

I fully appreciate I’d been very direct and rather cross, but FFS can you get where I’m coming from. She was quite curt and somewhat rude, to be honest.

“Woman to woman, I can understand why you’re upset.” This did not make my blood boil AT ALL. “You can come in but we don’t have your results back yet, so there wouldn’t be much point.” Why she didn’t she just say this at the beginning of the conversation? This teeny tiny bit of very important information makes all the difference. Unbelievable. So I have to wait another week until the 13th? Brilliant!!!

It’s D-Day, or Rather C-Day

This never-ending nightmare comes with a whole host of illogical thoughts usually delivered in the middle of the night when everything becomes worse than it already is. Erm… is that actually possible??? So I woke one night in a panic about the fact that I’d lost about half a stone within the last month or so. Now I had eaten less and walked more BUT tonight I had this goddam awful panic that I was ACTUALLY dying, terminally ill. Oh, and I defy ANY of you going through the same thing to not have these irrational thoughts. Trust me, I’m THE most positive person you will ever meet but boy this is a challenge.

So I figured the best solution was for me to eat more do less and see if I put on any weight. Well, for the very first time IN MY ENTIRE LIFE, I was delighted to have put on 3lb in about 4 days. I honestly can’t even begin to tell you happy this made me, it also made me laugh so loud, like most women putting on weight is NOT what I want, but for once I was thrilled. Funny how something that once would have made me gutted actually made me happy. This, in my logic, means I must be ok, well, not dying, back on the positive track we go.

I love work so the meeting kept my brain on charge and I didn’t have the time to dwell on what might be.

The weekend was great and odd all at the same time. I drove up to Catherine’s – it hadn’t dawned on me just how much the experience would have affected her. Her husband was lovely but just a bit different towards me and the same again on Saturday night when I went to collect Clips for an evening out: her husband looked like a rabbit caught in headlights. People just don’t know what to say to you – I asked him how he was, he said “Yeah thanks, Vicki. I’m fine thanks,” and looked absolutely petrified about asking me how I was. I completely understand but it’s also hard to be on the receiving end of people behaving differently towards you. It’s confirmed to me that I’ve made absolutely the right decision about not telling the world about it.

It’s so hard for everyone because it’s like the worst news ever. Only Derek, Sally’s husband (who is VERY similar to me) knew what to say. “Vicki, Sals told me what’s happened I don’t want you to think that I don’t care but I also know you don’t really want to talk about it. Just know that I’m always here for you in you need anything.” What a sweetie. I really am very lucky.

It’s weird and lovely too. Because no one knows at work and the vast majority of people have no idea, I honestly feel like there’s nothing wrong with me and I’ve had a super few days feeling a bit like it’s not real, really. I’m sure that Wednesday will change all that when I get my results and the plan of attack!!

A doctor and two nurses (wearing black uniforms) were there. Not exactly boding well, is it?

So results day, January 13th is here. D-Day, or rather C-Day. So after much cajoling, I agreed to take Catherine with me for my 4 pm meeting; sorry, appointment. I had a 10 am in Manchester which was great because it kept me occupied and I love driving so it was a great way to while away the time. I love work so the meeting kept my brain on charge and I didn’t have the time to dwell on what might be.

So we got to the hospital for about 3.40, purchased one of their extortionate and pretty shit coffees before we walked round to the temple of doom. We got ushered into one of the “crying” rooms and sat around a knee-high round table with four chairs and a box of tissues. A doctor and two nurses (wearing black uniforms) were there. Not exactly boding well, is it?

“Vicki, we have some news for you, sadly you do have cancer…” Before he could continue, I interrupted.

“Okay, can I stop you there? So is it fixable?”

“Oh yes, of course it is.” It was his incredulous tone that sealed it for me.

“Brilliant. Right, okay, that’s great, carry on, what do we have to do?” I settled back in my chair and all I could think about what that I was going to survive. Fucking yippee. I think the word is euphoric – that’s how I felt.

“You have grade two invasive ducal carcinoma and…”

I honestly can’t tell you the rest of the conversation because in my head I’m doing cartwheels. YES, I’m going to survive… excellent! The rest of this horror story I can do, it’s just a process. So the plan; chemo first to help reduce the size of the cancer, then an operation to remove it, then radio. Yup, I can do this. It’s fine! Sure, it’s going to be horrific and I’ll be bald BUT I’m not going to die. HURRAH!!

They wanted me to have the operation on the 22nd but I’ve got a dinner to go to that I’ve really looked forward to. Cath nearly had kittens.

I’m not sure my reaction was what they’d expected. In fact, I know it wasn’t but the bit they all failed to realise was that I already knew, and I’d spent two weeks papping myself that I was going to die. So this is great news. It’s fixable, I get to spend the critical illness money I should be getting. Not quite the attitude, I know, but you’ve no idea how relieved I am.

So the first doctor leaves, he was very lovely, I think he was bad news cop to make way for good news cop. What a lovely gentleman, he came in and was really gentle with me, he explained the plan and what was going to happen in the next couple of weeks before chemo started. I told them I had private health cover. This is an absolute godsend for people like me who have a business. The flexibility it gives is awesome. It also means I can have chemo at home if I chose, appointment times to fit with me and choices… I like choices.

The consultant explained that the next few weeks would include a consultation with him, an appointment with the oncologist, an appointment with the breast clinic nurse, a CT scan, a bone scan and an operation to remove a lymph node just to make sure it’s not spread. Apparently, the ultrasound scan isn’t 100% accurate so the lymph operation enables them to be completely sure that it’s clear. It’s more about them knowing rather than anything else because the chemo will blast anything and everything. So a busy few weeks. They wanted me to have the operation on the 22nd but I’ve got a dinner to go to that I’ve really looked forward to. Cath nearly had kittens. Speed is of the essence to a certain extent but they’d just told me that from detection they have a 90-day window, apparently my cancer doesn’t grow very quickly, so I don’t think another couple of days will make a difference. What lovely people, what a lovely attitude. I asked lots of questions, I understand the process and feel okay about it. I have two issues which I’ll explain to you, but honestly, I’m good with this.

We left the hospital, me with my arm around a crying Catherine, telling her it’s going to be just fine.

The four people in the room are staring at me, watching my every reaction but I’m honestly fine. I guess they’re expecting me to cry and wail and breakdown, but I’m just not built that way for audiences. I need to be super controlled and practical to get through. I get to live, that’s the best news I could have heard, nothing else is important. The consultant is surprised I think by my reaction. Cath’s eyes are a tad red although she’s doing her best not to cry, she knows that I need her to be strong. Anyway, the consultant leaves and the breast cancer nurses stay and talks through the detail. She was nice. She said that she’d written down everything she wanted to cover with me, but that it was all a bit pointless now. I’m guessing she was going to go for the positive angle and to ‘make me feel better.’

We left the hospital, me with my arm around a crying Catherine, telling her it’s going to be just fine and after parting with yet another bloody £2.60, drove home to tell the boys.

“Okay. So there’s good news and not so good news.”

They stare at me as I say those familiar three little words. “I’ve got cancer BUT it’s treatable so it doesn’t really matter.”

Cath is struggling I think with this, and I appreciate it’s not exactly the best delivery but you have to remember my kids have known me all their life and the way I tackle things and handle situations maybe a little unique, but it’s honest. And I’m genuinely thrilled I’m not going to die – the rest of it right now is nothing more than a battle I will win.

I did later speak to both the boys individually to reassure them, but honestly, I just don’t see what the big deal is. I explained to them if I’d said I’ve got mutating cells and I need some treatment to fix it no one would bat an eyelid – but because we say CANCER and CHEMO – everyone just shits themselves. Hey, I won’t die (well, I will at some point but not from this) and I’m back on track to making it to my 92nd birthday.

Here are my two issues with this: hair loss and the fact that now I’m going to have to tell people because unless they’re blind they will notice my lack of hair. Hair loss. Who wants to be bald?

Hmm, this is going to be a tough one.

The Email Announcement

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.

Hi

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:

Screenshot (102)

 

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.

Oncology, Private Healthcare & Free Tits

Monday 18th January

Today is January 18th and I’ve met my oncologist, and like the other consultant, she is just lovely. Very considered. I’m having to learn lots of new words, but frankly, some of the information is just too much to remember. I got packed off with books and books from the original ‘you’ve got cancer’ meeting a couple of weeks ago, which I’ve no intention of reading – how very dull. The plan: we start the chemo on Thursday 5th February. That’s all I need to know.

Private healthcare – what an absolute godsend. Not only do I get seen quicker and the process expedited but I also have the HUGE bonus of chemo at home. Okay, it wasn’t exactly what I had on my Christmas list BUT it’s made my day. I’ll be allocated a nurse and a plan. Phoning up to speak to the insurance company was actually far less horrific than I expected it to be.

I genuinely thought you had a policy, you get the dreaded lurgy, and you get paid out.

I’m still struggling to say the words, it’s becoming more real every time, but the lady I spoke to was fabulous very considerate and kind. Which is more than can be said for the delight I spoke to about my Critical Illness cover. I’d taken the policy out about 10 years ago when I used to smoke. I stopped 6 years ago but this didn’t stop her from very coldly asking me how many fags I used to smoke. I explained that I honestly couldn’t recall; when you stop you tend not to focus on the quantity of nicotine you inhaled daily. It upset me, actually. It was like she was trying to imply I’d created this cancer myself.

Furthermore, the policy I’d taken out was a smokers’ policy so I honestly couldn’t see the relevance of this. I explained this to her in my usual gentle manner, whilst she held onto her throat. We seemed to understand each other from that point on. She explained that the claim would have to go to the underwriters for a decision. Now, this did surprise me. I genuinely thought you had a policy, you get the dreaded lurgy, and you get paid out. Anyway, least of my worries right now, I’ll let fate determine the right outcome for me.

I might have mentioned that being in control is important to me so I decided the clever thing to do to help me through this journey was to keep a kind of diary of how I felt each day after each ‘spa treatment’ as I’ve renamed them – kinda of makes them more palatable, I think. I figured I needed something that I could refer to that I could see if there was a pattern. So I brought a whiteboard home from work, one of the girls from work had very kindly put some black tape on it so I could mark off the days of the week. What I did was date it and fill in relevant events from the first week of February through to the end of March. Then each day I could add a smiley face or a sad face and score my days. Whilst this sound REALLY childish, I cannot tell you what a great idea it was. It helped me to see patterns of good days and bad which then enabled me to plan more effectively.

 

IMG_4805
My mood board

I’m delighted to say that my operation date was brought forward to accommodate the dinner I was looking forward to on the 22nd.

 

Wednesday 20th January

What a result! FREE TITS!!!

So January 20th started with a lovely trip to the city hospital to have some dye injected into my nipple. Yes, you read that right. I can’t even begin to describe what happened simply because I didn’t want to watch. The horror of seeing the needle stabbed into a very delicate part of my anatomy was not something I needed to experience. Today’s operation is to remove a lymph node so they can send it off to ensure the cancers not escaped, the dye is to highlight the lymph node for surgery. I arrive at the private hospital having had nothing to eat all day except water. The anaesthetist, the consultant, the food nurse, the ward nurse and the ‘I’m here to help you nurse’ all paid me a visit. The anaesthetist wasn’t thrilled that I’d been drinking water – in truth, I hadn’t read the letter properly – typical me, I’m afraid. It was a bit touch and go as to whether they would operate but I managed to convince them I’d be just fine. Which of course I was.

Back from surgery within a blink of an eye – actually closer to 2 hours, but it didn’t feel like that for me. The surgeon came in and explained again what they had done and why and that we should get the results within the next week or so and for me not to worry. He’s a real sweetie. He also told me that after the chemo I’d have an operation to remove whatever’s left of the cancer and he would rebuild my boob.

“Sorry? Are you telling me I’ll get new tits?’ I demanded.

“Erm… yes Vicki, I am,” he replied, somewhat bashfully.

“Oh my God, can I pick the size?”

“Erm… yes, you can.”

“And will you make them point in the right direction?” I’m nearly squealing by this point.

“Yes, I can.”

“You, Mr. G have just made my made my day. A boob job. Oh my God, how lucky am I?”

I genuinely couldn’t be happier. Big boobs like mine aren’t exactly the prettiest things you’ve ever seen, a bit like oversized saddle bags that quite frankly have never pointed in the right direction. In fact, I had investigated and paid a deposit to have an uplift about 6 years ago but bottled it, not because of the pain but I really didn’t fancy having more scars to add to my body. What a result! FREE TITS!!!

I wasn’t allowed to leave until I’d eaten, drunk and had a wee. If they’d have let me I’d have been gone within half an hour; I’d completed all the tasks. My recovery from anaesthetic is remarkable, always has been (my life on the orthopaedic ward back in 1990 after my motorbike accident enabled me to perfect this), but they needed me to stay a further hour just to be sure. I wasn’t sore at all and felt right as rain.

Eyebrows Tattoos & Hair Shopping

Sunday 24th January

Today was a GREAT day. I met up with Sarah, the manager at work who had left at the beginning of December to work elsewhere. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t realised just what a good job she’d done and it’s the age-old ‘you don’t realise what you’ve got till it’s gone.’ She held the team together, motivated and inspired them and, the most important part, enabled me to get on with my job, which is about growing the business. Since she’d been gone I’ve struggled to get on with my job because I’ve been too busy helping the staff and the new team leaders. It turns out that she’s struggled with her new manager because she’s so vague… hilarious.

I’m learning that this journey for me is about learning new ways to behave and digging deep into the emotional box.

I think because I’m SO direct any normal person appears vague. Sarah’s been a bit disgruntled about a few other aspects too and she wants to leave. Even though I knew she would come back at this particular part of the conversation I made the decision to tell her stuff that normally I would have skirted around or avoided saying. I‘m not overly good at sharing my feelings or feeling vulnerable and as you can appreciate I run a business and I know how to manoeuvre a conversation to get the outcome I want. But I’m learning that this journey for me is about learning new ways to behave and digging deep into the emotional box so I told her that I needed her, that it hadn’t been the same without her and I’d like her to come back. Know what? It wasn’t that difficult, and it felt quite good. She knows how hard I find that sort of thing and replied by saying she wanted to come back. So for me, it was a superb result. I have someone I can rely upon, whom I trust with my youngest baby and who won’t let me down. BRILLIANT. So that’s something struck off the list.

I’m still full of bruises on the back of my hand, under my arm and my belly where they stabbed me with the heparin. Feeling a bit battered, bruised and bit bodily abused. But hey it’s going to get worse, I’m sure… this is a bit like the calm before the storm, I think.

Tattoo Tuesday 26th January

Another day skiving off work. Off to Ramsey to get my eyebrows tattooed on. What a superb experience but yeah, it did hurt. More scratchy than hurt I guess, BUT they look amazing AND they’re perfect.

Whilst I might not be Cheryl Cole, I’m sure she puts her hair extensions and makeup artist through her business.

OMG, I can’t tell you what a great idea this was, but £450 later and a teeny bit sore, I’m sure I’ve made THE best decision. One of the things I find weird when you look at someone who has no facial hair is their lack of eyebrows and eyelashes that makes them look like Martians. Yes, I know it’s not very PC and not very kind, but it’s factually accurate and I’ll be in their club soon so I feel I can say it. Again, having this done is about me taking control of the fact my eyebrows are going to fall out and stunt double for a Martian isn’t really my thing.

Eyebrows tattooed, I’m back on with my day. I’m still trying to get my accountant to agree that I can claim things like this and my wig through my business. Whilst I might not be Cheryl Cole, I’m sure she puts her hair extensions and makeup artist through her business. Why should I be any different? I might not be as slim or as glamorous, but I am the face of my business and I doubt my clients would be thrilled to see me without hair. I’m not sure I’d be confident enough to do that anyway, this process is already making me question things that I’ve never even thought about before.

My youngest had a hospital appointment this afternoon, which always results in a MacDonald’s. This is where we were sat when I got the phone call to say the chemo starts on the 5th. It’s now becoming real.

Wig Wednesday 27th January

Today started with a day of scans. I had a CT and a bone scan. In itself, it was not a problem but I was surrounded by REALLY poorly people, this hadn’t really dawned on me if I’m truthful but that was depressing. I’m okay if I can’t see the horror of cancer. I looked seriously out of place – I have hair, I have colour in my face and I’m walking. This was distressing. I had to wait for 4 hours for one of the scans so I did some work and had a meeting with the Cancer Ward sister about fundraising and about putting her in touch with the ‘Something To Look Forward To’ charity so that was good.

I had a few tears in the car but decided to replicate my current style – not because it’s nice but because it would enable me to look the same.

After the scans, the trip to Cambridge for hair fitting commenced. I drove down there and it wasn’t until I parked up that I actually thought about the sort of ‘hair’ I wanted. In truth I hadn’t thought about anything other than getting there, getting parked and finding the place, which is rather typical of me and how I don’t deal with things properly. I had a few tears in the car but decided to replicate my current style – not because it’s nice but because it would enable me to look the same. I met Garry (yes, I spelt that right) and he was absolutely fantastic. He listened, took the time with me and miraculously managed to find me a similar hairdo. We struggled to find the style with the right colour so he suggested I come back for a fitting after he’d ordered it from Germany. The hair was amazing it even had roots to make it look more authentic!! He also offered to shave my head, which was extremely kind of him, when I came back for collection.

I’ve been completed overwhelmed by the number of shares my Facebook page has had. Twenty-four and currently donations stand at just under £3000. How amazing are people? It has dawned on me that I’ve not really given this cancer thing the respect everyone else has. Nor do I intend to. How ridiculous. I like a battle and I always win. Nothing has changed.

Becoming Public Property

Friday 29th January

Friday was a bit confusing I arrived at the wrong hospital for an oncology appointment. Not the end of the world but I hate getting things wrong. I’m starting to feel a bit hormonal (just the time of the month) so I guess I was a bit flat. Karen the oncologist explained that the scans were completely clear other than a small cyst on my liver which she said could have been there from birth nothing to fret about. I asked her what a cyst is and she explained that it’s just a sack of fluid – I asked if it was full of wine. She laughed and said it was highly unlikely. So all good. I don’t think I’d displayed quite the right reaction. I know it’s great news and that I’m all clear and it’s not anywhere else but shit this is becoming REAL. Each day, each result, each appointment I’m getting one step closer to the bloody chemo, the nasty stuff, the real-life bits, the stuff that’s going to make me feel ill. Yes, it will fix me but I’m going to feel shit and for someone who’s always so healthy this is a mental battle. The side effects are beyond hideous. I had a couple of tears as I left, not a lot, just enough to register how I’m feeling, but it’s just part of the journey. I left the hospital drove to meet Catherine for dinner in Lincoln.

Saturday 30th January

On Saturday 30th, I met a friend at Rutland water for our 26, yes, 26-mile walk. I’d already committed to doing the Belvoir challenge at the end of February but I needed to know that my body was capable of doing it, I’ve never walked this far before. So that IF I can’t complete it I at least know it’s because of the chemo not that I can’t do it. The day was great and it took us just under 7 hours. Got home and was asleep by 8.30 and I ached…but not as much as my friend did, which offers me hours of piss-take. I’m the cancer victim, he’s a fit 40-year old that got me into this endurance walking and HE struggled… or maybe he’s just saying it to make me feel good.

Reading stuff about me on Facebook makes me feel like Mother Teresa…

So I’ve posted lots of stuff on Facebook about the charity head shave in the last week or so and have bullied my clients into parting with their cash and so far I’ve raised about £7500 for two very well deserving charities; Peterborough City Hospital and ‘Something to look forward to’. I’m sooooo pleased and it makes this poorly shit so worthwhile. People have been extremely kind and said some really lovely and encouraging things with their donations which is so kind, but I’m struggling a bit. I’m not really one to dwell on nice things that people say and in truth, there’s a collection of other things that aren’t so lovely about me, which quite honestly balances out the loveliness. Trust me, I’ve struggled quite a bit with this to be truthful. I’m just like everyone else; I get cross, I shout at my kids, I get moody from time to time. Reading stuff about me on Facebook makes me feel like Mother Teresa…it’s important to stay real, I think. I LOVE the positivity and kindness. It’s been great and there are one or two ‘sad/sympathy’ statuses to contend with, but they’ve been minimal.

Now I have to confess that the thought of doing this head shave is beyond distressing. I seriously do NOT really want to be bald, I don’t really want all the garbage that goes with this bloody long arduous journey of chemical warfare I’m about to endure, where my body is not my own anymore. Nothing is sacred now. I’ve had my tits out more in the last 6 weeks than I have in the last 6 years!!! PLUS I’m struggling with being ‘public property’. I’m not a fan of everyone knowing my business, it makes me feel vulnerable, but I do need to feel like I’m in control of this cancer thing so by doing this and not having the horror of big clumps falling out in bed or in the bath. As I said, it’s the best option for me to be able to cope.

I was mortified. Comments appeared like wildfire.

For a gobby bird, I’m actually quite private and do not like to share my innermost feelings with the world (you’re now wondering why I wrote this. Yes, I know – me too, but I’ve done it for you). So you can perhaps imagine how traumatised I was when one of my friends took it upon herself to post something on my Facebook wall for everyone to see. I’ll give her the benefit of doubt and say it was with the best intention. As we explained to people on my behalf that the fundraising wasn’t a publicity stunt, she explained how distressing I would find it and virtually started a petition to stop me from doing it saying that I didn’t HAVE to do it. I was absolutely livid, not because she hadn’t told the truth but because I felt like she’d exposed my innermost feelings and thoughts. Facebook for me is about the fun stuff, the nonsense of life, and I simply DO NOT share my real thoughts and feelings with the bloody world. I win by fronting this cancer thing out and stay emotionally detached from what I’m doing. I was mortified. Comments appeared like wildfire, all very lovely but discussing me, making decisions for me, suggestions about what I should or shouldn’t do. I know people mean well but I honestly did feel like my life was not my own. And because I hadn’t worded the post I wasn’t able to control what they were saying in their response.

I am unsure about shaving my head. Christ, who wouldn’t be.

All my posts had been VERY carefully worded to encourage a happy positive comment not some droany negative shit and my wording did not create an open forum. I TOLD them what was happening. I had no idea how to take this new post down – I’m not overly technical and I didn’t want to upset her either. I felt a bit stuck. I did totally overreact, but I couldn’t stop the flooding; I cried a lot and couldn’t work out what to do for the best. It’s weird how much I feel like I need to control this and what people see. I don’t mind my innermost feelings being shared with my close friends but not Facebookers – they are all people I know but they’re people I’ve worked with, met on nights out, etc., not all proper full-on friends. I guess we all know that. I am unsure about shaving my head. Christ, who wouldn’t be. Yet I know it’s better for me than the other option of it falling out. I need their money for the charities, not their sympathy or opinions about what I should do for the best…ggggrrrr.