I always said that this blog would tell it as it is, no hiding any unpalatable truths on my experience of being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. So I would like to apologise because for the last couple of weeks I’ve been feeling pretty crap and I know I should have shared it on here but to be honest I wanted to know what I might have been dealing with before baring my emotions.
Last Thursday was a year since my diagnosis and it was a very strange day. Most anniversaries are celebrated with flowers, alcohol, chocolates and gifts but how do you mark a year since you found out you might die? I tried hard to reframe the day as one in which I was lucky that this horrible disease growing inside me was discovered but you know what, even for a marketing guru like me there are some things that simply can’t be rebranded in a positive way.
The day just seemed to highlight how the diagnosis has totally changed my life. I’ve always said that I won’t let the cancer define who I am but I think the time has come to say it has changed how I see life. Yes, I’m still Suzanne and my personality hasn’t changed but my values have. Not that there was anything wrong with them before but now they are sharper, more focused. A friend recently said that in a small way, they were envious of the opportunity I had been given to take stock of everything and everyone in my life and to change things for the better. And I get that.
Looming on the horizen though was today, my first mammogram since my diagnosis and the chance to see for certain if all the treatments I’ve been through have worked so far. Over the weekend my thoughts became increasingly narrowed to the point where I could think if very little but what would happen if they found another tumour today. Not helped by the awfully sad news about Rio Ferdinand’s wife and the screening of “The C Word” on television, both highlighting that for some women, the cancer comes back.
The fear of dying returned; the bright future ahead of me that I’d been creating turned to shades of grey, just like when you’re trying to buy something online but the ‘purchase’ button just won’t let you click and commit. I found myself turning away from making plans for the future “just in case I’ll need treatment” – from a facial treatment next month to applying for a fabulous opportunity at work that will require a five year commitment and allow me to achieve a much-wanted dream.
This morning I went for my appointment with my breast surgeon, who seemed to totally understand why I burst into tears the moment I walked into his room. Half a box of tissues later I was sent upstairs for the mammogram which I have to say was agony on my left side due to the tenderness that still remains after the surgery. Apparently it helps to take painkillers first – hmmm, maybe that’s something they should have told me before squishing my boob into the flattest pancake ever?
And then it was the dreaded wait for the results, half an hour spent in the waiting area drinking coffee and trying to keep the tears at bay.
Before being called back into his room and being told that there were no abnormalities, no areas of concern, no cancer.
And then working my way through the remaining half box of his tissues.
Tears of relief as my future turned to colour again.
Tears of anger that this horrible disease is so frightening.
Tears of sadness that whilst he cut out the tumour, no doctor can rid me of the fear of the cancer returning.
Tears of pride that I am now officially a cancer survivor.