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.