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.

Life After Cancer

It seems a lot of people struggle with life after cancer. For me, I’m just thrilled that it’s all over and done with, but I think the reason why a lot of people struggle is because of all the attention that having cancer brings. It’s unreal. One thing I noticed was all the new ‘friends’. Everyone wants a friend with cancer – cruel but true. Watch out for them, they are like piranhas, they want all the juicy details so they can go and share with their friends AND most importantly, congratulate themselves that it’s not them! Don’t be sucked in by them.

Some people will make YOUR illness all about THEM.

My view was very much that if I usually see you weekly, daily or monthly, great, let’s keep it that way. I don’t need the extra attention. Also, as lovely as it is that people contact you, it’s SO hard to find the time to reply to everyone. People mean well and it’s great getting 40 emails/texts each day asking after you, but when you’re nearly dying from the chemo the last thing you want to do is reply to emails. I did, however, mainly because I knew that some people’s interest would wane over the lengthy time the treatment takes and it’s really very kind of people to make the time to contact. So replying to them seems like it’s the right thing to do.

Kobe’s new hairdo

Just be mindful that so many people say all the right things and yet deliver nothing. Their actions will be lacking, whether it be never turning up for a promised visit, or a lack of text communication. Not because they are unkind, but because they simply don’t know what to do. Some people will make YOUR illness all about THEM – I know, it’s baffling BUT that’s life, and hey, we all need a cabinet reshuffle from time to time and this is just an opportunity to get yours sorted.

They did not make the cabinet reshuffle and, oddly, I don’t miss them.

I lost two people whom I had considered to be my closest friends (and not just geographically) through this journey, who didn’t text, ring or visit… or frankly do anything. Although I asked them both why, once my chemo brain fog had lifted, I still don’t really understand their reasons. I got a lot of “sorry’s” but no real answers. Needless to say, they did not make the cabinet reshuffle and, oddly, I don’t miss them – it’s very strange. This journey has enabled me to reflect on each ‘friendship’ and crystallise what friendship is to me and what I need and deserve. I have no regrets about the time we spent together and the fun we had but for me, friendship isn’t just about the good stuff.

Time and other matters

I think your time is the most precious gift you can give anyone and I’ve truly been overwhelmed with the consideration and kindness of others, so just remember to focus on the ones that do, not the ones that don’t. You’ll be amazed at how people you didn’t expect appear suddenly arrive with food and thoughtful actions that make you feel so humble and so grateful.

One thing I could not have lived without is choc ices.

Having cancer is a real emotional rollercoaster. I think the key thing is to remember that it’s the words that are scary CANCER and CHEMOTHERAPY conjure up negative thoughts and makes you face your own mortality, but when you take those words out and see that you’re having treatment for cells that have gone wrong it makes it so much easier to cope with.

A few additional things I experienced along the way that might be useful to you.

Eat well and for pleasure

One thing I could not have lived without is choc ices. Oh my God! When your mouth feels like something has died in it and your gums are sore (it’s hard to explain this side effect), choc ices are the only cure, and the fab toothpaste I told you about earlier. It’s also so important to keep your strength up, so I made sure that every day I would eat as much as I could. Usually starting with porridge with fruit and tinned milk (my favourite). I’ve eaten loads of cake and had a real thing for Victoria sponge – which for someone who before this has never had a sweet tooth, I thought a bit strange. Just eat what you fancy. Trust me, it’s hard enough to muster up the enthusiasm most chemo days to fancy anything, but eating helps to make you feel OK.

Before my first spa treatment, I made up some batches of food ‘ready cooked’ that I left in the freezer until I needed them. Not only did it save me time, but it was easy to just get one out, defrost it and know that I’d be having something nutritious and something I like.

Keep drinking (water)

Also water. I drank it by the gallon load – I kind of figured that the more I drank the quicker it would flush it through my body. I might be right – who knows, who cares. It worked for me.

If you can, get private healthcare

The hospital staff and the nurses at home have been incredible. Their attitude towards me was fabulous. I’ve always been a very upbeat and happy person and I’ve been so lucky because they have all mirrored me beautifully which I just love.

Your health is your wealth, so if you take nothing else from this, encourage everyone you know to take out private healthcare. Rightly or wrongly, you get seen quicker, they’re very much on top of your follow up appointments, monitor you to within an inch of your life, they call YOU to make sure you’re OK (the first call was a bit weird… I wasn’t expecting it!) and they fit in with you, not the other way round. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so cared for. WPA, who I use, are a not-for-profit organisation and their ethos is great. Although my premium has gone up a little (don’t forget I have enjoyed £55,000 worth of treatment), it has been nominal and if I ever get the dreaded lurgy again, I’m covered. Oh, and for everyone who clicks this link and buys their private health care, the WPA will donate £50 to charity. Everyone’s a winner!


There are courses available for survivors to attend to assist with ‘life after cancer’ so if it’s something you need, then go for it – apparently, they are great. I’m not someone that likes those kind of events. I’m convinced my positivity and humour were the things that have got me through this horror story, so please stay strong, stay positive. You have to BELIEVE you will win this.

January 2019

It’s funny reading this back – oh, how I’ve changed from the impatient rude sweary and dismissive individual from Christmas past to where I am now. This really has been a blessing for me, the changes have enhanced my life and made me a better person. Now, I absolutely know this is a bizarre thing to say and arguably completely the wrong thing, but my scary main Christmas present of 2015 was probably the best thing that could have happened to me.

I’ve mellowed, calmed down and realised so much about my behaviour and I have been able to make changes that I believe this cancer came to teach me.

Whilst not on my list, the journey has delivered changes to me as a person that I think I very much needed and other than being bald and feeling poorly, the positives I got out of this journey have been utterly huge. I haven’t really changed personality-wise but my behaviour and perspective on life have, which I think is a good thing. I’ve mellowed, calmed down and realised so much about my behaviour and I have been able to make changes that I believe this cancer came to teach me. I feel like I’ve become a better person and a kinder person to be around. I’m not as angry or as sweary and it’s funny when I read this back just how much calmer I’ve become. I take each day as an absolute blessing. I don’t get cross when things don’t go my way, I embrace the hiccups and make sure I find the positive. I love doing nothing – not something I’ve ever done before but it has literally changed my life and made me feel at peace with my world.

This experience enabled me to cry and to allow myself to cry for no reason whatsoever and I think it enabled me to empty the ‘well’ in a way I never would have. I’ve learnt that being wrong actually isn’t so bad. I’ve peeled back so many layers and although this journey made me feel so exposed in so many ways, I feel like I’ve rebuilt myself but in a better way, almost like I’ve changed my foundations and rebuilt myself. It’s made me realise that I NEED people – not something I would have ever said or realised probably before this. I don’t feel so cross with the world anymore. I’ve realised I don’t need to be in control of everything and that not everything happens to my timescales. I’ve learnt to rely on others and literally put my life in their hands.

Oh, and I’ve got a new pair of tits – RESULT!!!


• Stay Positive
• Eat healthy although the odd takeaway won’t kill you
• Make yourself eat no matter how sick you feel it WILL make you feel better
• Get a good night’s sleep – sleeping tablets help to give your body the rest it needs, a 7-day dose should be plenty
• Go with it – this isn’t a quick win, take each moment and day as it comes
• Enjoy sitting in bed watching shit TV – it’s cathartic
• Encourage visitors….they make the day pass quicker and distract you from the longest dullest days – it doesn’t matter if you can’t recall what they said to you
• Take time to reflect and work out what this really about for you
• Take time to enjoy doing nothing
• Water. Drink lots of water