pollygosh_back-to-story

Back to the Story – In which I create the Black List

I would have expected, put money on it even, that when given the worst kind of news, I’d become a ‘Life is too Short” Earth Mother type.

I honesty woke up the morning after, expecting that the Meaning of Life had been whispered in my ear overnight and hoping for enlightenment. This did not happen. Not even close.

Apart from from my views on cake making more sense than no cake, red toe nails at all times and a stubborn refusal to waste calories on bad food – I’m as in the dark as ever.

In actual fact, what happened was, I created a black list and shoved a Breast Cancer Nurse to the top position. I am a rubbish human being.

Apparently enlightenment may come after I am ‘through the experience”. This Cancer thing, always dangling the carrot a bit further off (point).

Once you realised the bargaining hasn’t worked, once you’ve tried to take in the facts, had some tests, been booked for a few more tests, received your first samplings worth of pamphlets – you are deposited, some what unceremoniously, by the filing cabinets opposite the fake boob display (the bra insert ones).

The gel triangles are housed, rather whimsically, in sateen drawstring pouches. These pouches, in red, pink, white or black look like highly flammable, Ann Summers cast offs. I’m not sure if this is meant to make them more sexy but I’m putting it out there – it doesn’t work.

But I digress, Dad and I are waiting for another meeting; I don’t know what Dad was thinking but after staring at the little pouches for a while, I was just wanting to get the Hell out of Dodge.

Once we are finally ushered into the office and placed on the ‘comfy’ seats – you know you are meant to spill your guts if you’re sat on the ‘good’ seats in Hospital. The NHS seem to think that only Bad News deserve comfort, which is fair enough really. The seats remind me of Old People Homes, they are probably wipe clean, this offends my ‘delicate’ design sensibilities.

I am already on edge, I know this, the seats haven’t helped. I am in Shock. I just want to leave – to be out in the sunshine, breathing in fresh air. I do not want to be here. I want to be anywhere but here.

This is not the best way to meet a new person.

I thought nurses were all strong, capable, warm and practical – they smelt of lavender and TCP (I think I’ve been watching too many Foyle’s Wars). What I was faced with was a nervous, twitchy, bird of a human. I did wonder why MBS had been keen to stress why this was not his usual BCN.

We are waiting, it is the weirdest Mexican Stand Off I’ve ever been involved in and nobody is taking charge, this exasperates my Stage Management instincts.

As I’m being stared at beadily, head to one side, sad eyes and concerned frown, it dawns on my that this is a ‘pastoral care meeting’. That we are waiting for me to fall apart, to start howling. I feel like laughing. I seem to be asked over and over if I am OK, if I want to ask ANYTHING at all.

I want to say “Look lady, I’m cracking jokes here, I’m asking practical questions, I even stepped up and asked the ‘delicate’ questions about fertility – the ones you were stuttering over. I am aware I look stricken but I am holding it together. Stop looking at me with sad eyes, stop saying ‘this must be a shock’. I think we can all agree it probably is. Just give me another saplings worth of paperwork, laugh at my jokes and let me get the hell out.”

I felt unreasonable. During one of the horrendous silences, I gave myself a pep talk; “you are probably angry in a wider sense, this person is just doing her job, calm down and don’t take this out on her”.

I hated this women, I hated her slight frame- she didn’t look up for the job, her faltering speech patterns, the stupid faux sympathetic voice. She wasn’t picking up on any of the signs I was giving her. I didn’t want sympathy, I wanted kindly delivered, cold hard facts – dispatched promptly and succinctly, not this hesitating hell.

We all got through it, with a lot of tongue biting and jaw tensing on my part. Finally out in the fresh air and still seething, I had to ask Dad if I was over-reacting. I couldn’t get my head round, still can’t, who might find this kind of ‘kid glove handling’ useful and not just entirely unhelpful. I suppose someone must. I just found it highly irritating.

Thus the Black List was formed. It is a list I have created for anyone who tries to ‘handle’ me.

I tell people about the Black List just in case they try and be too sympathetic. If people stop seeing me and just see “a sad situation”. If people make me feel too sick. In short if you look like you might cry and don’t laugh at my funny, funny cancer jokes – I’m gonna Black List you.

There are very, very few people on the Black List. My nearest and dearest are all amazing and roll with the emotional waves that come their way. I’m at heart a people pleaser, I doubt anyone will ever know if they are on the list. It’s just a list in my head that helps me to handle all the weirdness that people throw at me, when they try to handle me. To handle this.

pollygosh_hate-pink

I hate Pink.

We may have hit a new low, I am railing against colours now…

I hate Pink. Hate may be overstating it. I am just not a huge fan – unless it’s neon, anything works when neon. Fact.

This sometimes surprises people, I don’t know if there is something innately ‘pink’ about my personality, if that is the case, I am not sure what I feel about it. Pink always feels so fluffy.

I am aware I am shooting myself in the foot here, disparaging a hue for being ‘weak’, I might be seen to be stoking the flames of sexism via the medium of colour. To which I can really only say “I didn’t start it” in a rather petulant tone.

Pink as the chosen colour for Breast Cancer though, well its just so blooming predictable isn’t it?

It’s like they didn’t even try. Is it just me or does anybody else think the meeting to decide on this was probably incredibly short?

Can you imagine the one person who bowled in there and said “call me crazy but I think a tasteful Dove Grey is what this charity needs, a Sunny Yellow or how about a really Poppy Orange. Who’s with me? Wait, what’s all this Pink around for…..Oh”.

If you look it up on Wikipedia (I’m recuperating, I have the time), you can discover which colour goes with which charity. It turns out you’re nobody unless you have a colour. Which somehow makes this whole Pink business even worse.

Of course all the other colours have been taken, Charities are now having to share colours. Oh yes, for every hue you can think of, there are a remarkable number of charities living under it. I’m not begrudging all these wonderful causes, I applaud their good sense.

My favourite discovery is that Brain Cancer and Boarder-line Multiple Personality Disorder use Grey, which is really cool if you think about it. I salute the marketing behind these pairings.

Do you know how many other charities have chosen Pink? Just Breast Cancer and possibly “Acute Acquired Cephalgia Minor Awareness” which is basically migraines. That Pink sure gives me a headache too.

The only other use of Pink on the whole chart is a Baby Blue / Baby Pink twist that has a number of charities attached including Pro-Life (which I shall swiftly pass over, given my mood) and Male Breast Cancer. Which are an odd set of bed fellows.

I love how Male Breast Cancer is trying to butch it up a bit, not sure if Baby Blue is really working for you but hey…. But why does Male Breast Cancer need to have a different ribbon – what’s wrong with Pink for all? And here we are, off to the sexist colour-coding races again….

It seems that charities are making up colours rather than using Pink. Black has more charities using it.

Which then got me thinking, perhaps the Breast Cancer awareness Brigade have some sort of mafioso-like hold on Pink. Maybe many charities wanted it, but broken legs and bricks through windows ensued, until everyone else fell in line…. Makes me wonder what the “Acute Acquired Cephalgia Minor” gang have had to do. The mind boggles at the back room antics that have probably gone on. I fear for those Migraine sufferers, I really do.

Or what is more likely is, everyone looked at Pink, looked at Breast Cancer Awareness and thought “how obvious, we can’t top that”

To which I want to cry out “WHY, WHY is it obvious? Why is it not a kick-ass Orange or a ballsy Purple.”

Thus, we have be burdened with Pink. I could probably take it on the chin, if it wasn’t such an insipid, kitten-licking, flooffy, powder Pink. This Pink has no gumption. I don’t look at it and think “Yes, under the banner of this colour, I shall march with my head held high. This Colour inspires me to fight a great battle.”

No one I know would wear this shade on days they need to feel brave. I doubt if it even inspires anyone to self-examine, except in an odd Pavlovian response, after years of Pink abuse….

It is not the Pink of a self-respecting, grown woman. It is the colour of Barbie, and now through no fault of my own I am linked to it*.

So I’m trying to come up with a plan, a plan I have no heart for really, for who really wants to try and save such a preposterous sub-colour?

Yet, even after a lot of brain-storming and late night meetings, I’ve only been able to come up with a two word plan : Miss Piggy. Miss Piggy is possibly the only one who can save this Pink, Save Breast Cancer Awareness – Hell, save the world!

Unfortunately, I can’t even get her agent to return my call, so I fear our cause is lost.

 

 

 

* point, most definitely, to cancer.

 

pollygosh_am-angry

I am Angry – this one carries a strong health warning

Once again I apologise in advance I am pretty much guaranteed to cause offence.
 Someone once gave me a magnet with the catchy phrase “Remember you will never be given more than you can bear” or words to that affect. I used to throw it across the room at quite regular intervals. I’d have cut it up and fed it merrily to the sharks this week – had I not thrown it away years ago.

 

I don’t know what has happened.

 

I don’t know if writing shook loose some emotions I wasn’t expecting.

 

Or if the meeting with My Oncologist (MO) reminded me that my lumpectomy was but the first step on a rather arduous climb.

 

Or if it’s just that the healing process has reached a particularly sore and itchy point in proceedings.

 

Or undergoing treatment for cancer is just not all it’s cracked up to be.

 

I think it may be all of the above, it is a hundred different things or nothing at all.

 

Maybe everyone just has to go through this phase and try not to lose all their dignity and humour (I’ve failed spectacularly at the grace I have hoped to maintain).

 

I was Angry this week, I am angry.

 

Angry isn’t descriptive enough, angry doesn’t even come close. It is more like a cocktail of grieving, sulking, impatience, and confusion with a healthy pinch of moroseness stuck in for good measure.

 

I have not been good-hearted, I have been no fun at all, I would have nothing to do with the me this week, to those of you who’ve tried, the tiny sliver of human that is still in me, thanks you, for you are kind and wonderful people.

 

This Molotov of emotions has simmered away at a fevered pitch and even now threatens to boil up at a moments notice;

 

When people seem too concerned, when they don’t seem concerned enough. The people who you thought might be in touch and haven’t been.

 

The worst seems to be when I know someone knows but they are simply ignoring the entire situation.

 

These people always seem to be the same ones who now, intently stare at my chest while they are talking to me. I know this is an age old problem for women but I have always been gloriously flat chested (more so now I can wear nothing but sports tops) and have never had to deal with this before.

 

I want to say “Even if you had X-ray vision, which you don’t – you can’t see the lump because it is gone. If you’d like to see the scars, the swelling, the stitches, the bruises and the hole left behind, Ask. It’s really not all that thrilling either but anything would be better than you not meeting my eyes.”

 

When people ask me how I feel and then put their own words in my mouth, or try to explain to me how I feel. When people try to use magnet quotes in a bid to comfort me, when I am not asking for comfort.

 

I want to say “I shall be whatever emotion bubbles up in me today. I will handle this however I choose. This may be different from minute to minute because at the moment I am just that contrary. Don’t ask me to choose between positivity and negativity. Unless you’ve been here and done this, at my age, I’d shut up if I were you. Just let me feel.”

 

When people have said they are praying for me -

 

I want to say “That’s great for you but please, please take a look at my last five years, when you are done with that, take a look at the world – then bake me a cake instead or learn to cure cancer. I don’t know what I believe, I honestly don’t. I know I don’t believe in the integrity of organised religion. I want to point out that, if I were to believe in God or a higher power, I sure as hell wouldn’t be speaking to them at the moment.”

 

When people have told me to be strong or hang tough, I have wanted to say “Shit, let me write that down, I thought weak wasn’t working out for me so well.”

 

When people write on Facebook that life is hard because they’ve mislaid something or they have to work and the sun is out, or complained how unfair the world is for some pitiful and trivial reason. Oh, the things I have felt like writing.

 

When older men, and it does seem to be older men at the moment, have the right to prescribe what happens next to my younger and female body.

 

I want to say “you have no idea what your decisions feel like to me, the choices you are giving me are not choices at all. How dare you sit and decided this for my body and then move on to lunch.”

 

I have silently railed against individuals. I have silently railed against groups. All ages, races, friends and foes have felt my inaudible wrath this week.

 

I think the kindest thing I can say about myself, is at least I have been an equal opportunity Anger Ball and at least I have bitten my tongue.

 

I was on the brink of writing a post called “ All my previous Posts have been Bullshit – it isn’t fair and I am not grateful for anything”

 

These are cruel, snide and hurtful things to think.

 

They have been Black and White things to think.

 

In short I’ve been an ungrateful cow, which then makes me more angry.

 

Still, these emotions have felt very true but they have not felt just. Emotions against my will.

 

The anger comes because I am lucky and loved and privileged and yet still I am angry.

 

Around and around it goes.

 

I don’t have anything tangible to be angry at. There isn’t a useful syphon for these emotions. I am a wounded animal. A baby. A mute. I cannot find the words for what I need, they do not yet exist.

 

It is made all the worse because of the sea of people trying to help, being so wonderfully kind but I am still lonely because really I am alone in all this and that makes me scared.

 

And so I am still angry.

 

pollygosh_troubles

All my troubles seemed so far away

Tuesday 4th March

 

Today at 12.30 I found out I had cancer. Oh how I wish it could be yesterday again. As my friend TCP says “Well that’s a bit shit.”

 
 

Practical things leap into my head. It’s the state of fight mode I went into after mum died. That’s how it feels.

 
 

I keep thinking how much I’d prefer it not to be this way. 

 

Life can change on the roll of a dice, the flip of a coin – we all know this, all think we know this. 

 

Then it actually goes and does. 

 

You find yourself thinking “If it could only be an hour ago, two hours, a day ago, a week, a month, back when my biggest concerns were the regular, every day, garden variety worries of before. If only I’d missed the call, not responded to the text – I’d have had an another few hours of blissful ignorance. If I could just unlearn this piece of shit news. I would take more notice of what life felt like prior. Maybe I wouldn’t take timeout to smell the roses, maybe it would just be a work day morning like all those that came before, but I could try and capture how it felt, the not knowing”

 

You will think this on the drive to the hospital, where your brain is desperately trying to convince you that you misheard, or misremembered the news.

 

You will think this as you look out of the window, while MBS is explaining that sorry but you did hear correctly. Burt is not benign (MBS will not call him Burt), that he is a 17mm malignant tumour, Grade 3 of 3*. That tests will need to begin now.

 

You will mostly certainly be thinking it when you meet Breast Care Nurse 1 (BCN1) and subsequently create the black list**. You will think this as she fumbles her way through an explanation of treatments and fertility.

 

As you drive home.

 

As you begin to tell people.

 

There will be relief, numb relief, as Liam Neeson smashes his way through a middle of the road movie.

 

You will go to work the next day, where everything is different but nothing has changed.

 

You will wake up each morning, the sky won’t have fallen down and you will get out of bed, put one foot in front of the other. You will still worry about the little worries of life, be happy, be angry because this is now your new normal and slowly you will forget how it felt before.

The human brain is phenomenally good at rewiring, at surviving – at fight mode. 

 

But then, when you least expect it, you will crash.


 

Please bare with me reader because just at the moment, just for a little bit, I have spectacularly lost my sense of humour. I think ! walked out of the room marked ‘Shock’ and in to the Red Painted Room of Anger and Pain. You had better believe I slammed that door shut too. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

* Burt is quite small and he got down graded to 2 (champagne all round)
** Explanation to follow.

pollygosh_elephant3

Elephant 3

I feel really strongly about this Elephant (it also has a Baby Elephant along it), incase anyone has stumbled on to this blog and is worried about coping with cancer or anything actually. Can I state for the Little Blog Record:

I am not always brave, happy and accepting of all this.

Just ask Dad or A. In fact, just yesterday I had a proper sulk and a whinge because the production that I should be working on, got an amazing review (huge whoop whoops, jazz hands and confetti cannon to the HF crew) but I am not working on it because I am here, dealing with crappy cancer.

There was also last week, when I nearly lost my favourite scarf / security blanket, or the day before that when it was my hand cream – I almost lose a lot of things, so let’s just say this happens daily.

Or the really two large spots that have erupted on my face (which, Dad, has nothing to do with the chocolate I’ve been eating and everything to do with the anaesthetic I had. Fact.)

When these sorts of things happen, what inevitably runs through my mind is;

“I have cancer and now I must endure this? Why universe Why?!?”

There is something, each day that causes me to pause or stumble.

I hope I’ve dropped some clues about my lack of bravery in enough other posts.

I started PollyGosh! to write an honest account of all this, so I will be braver and write about fear and sadness, at some point. Which we can all look forward to. I shall try and remember to sign post this with as much neon as possible, for those not willing to drink during the day (sorry Dad I know you prefer the lighter posts)

>Also, there is a time delay on Little Blog of about a month and a half . To repeat, the writings of PollyGosh! are not in real, real time. I am not insane enough to try and write this fresh, fresh. With a little bit of time comes a lot more humour.

Following on from above, Baby Elephant:

The first few posts of PollyGosh! were almost step-by-step in the timeline of my life with Burt. I seem to have moved off topic, I’ll wind my way back eventually. In the long run, this will be easier, as it spares everyone the roller coaster ride and debates over treatment options…. which is what is going on in real time (yay, I love waiting for the axe to fall).

Please be reassured that I am doing well. In the grand scheme, of all things cancer, I am super lucky – another reason why I can write Little Blog.

Current Red Nail Polish: Butter London’s Chancer (like crushed Ruby Slippers)

 

pollygosh_testing2

Testing, Testing…

+++ Please, if you are thinking – “Sheesh, this post is long”, just read the Mammogram section and the very end of the post – I am conducting an experiment++++

 
 

I’m writing this post while consuming a glass of Prosecco – it’s my first entirely painkiller free day after surgery – Whoop, Whoop! (Don’t worry, if I’ve ended up posting this at 10am, it’s actually being written at 10pm on Friday night, that’s how we roll on the recovery highway)

 

So, two glasses of Prosecco, let’s just see how this post pans out, everyone recall our 1 2 3 4 5 Mantras of little blog*? Let’s begin : 

 

I’ve spoken about a few of the processes / tests that can occur when dealing with cancer. Below, is not an exhaustive list (I believe I would need a needle Biopsy to have full Breast Cancer Bingo) but I thought it might be useful to cover my remaining ones -

 

But first, to refresh:

 

Needle sticks – you will get used to them. Extra bonus tip; you may need to have Radio Active Isotopes injected into your breast. When they tell you this your Inner-voice may being yelling “Hells NO”, but quiet it, as this one isn’t so bad at all. It’s a very fine needle so it barely scratches, the solution does sting but only for a moment. Cake walk.

 

 Core Biopsy – Hole punch and bruising. Not a morning at a spa but completely doable.

 

MRI – I refer you to the earlier post where I almost bottled it completely due to my cockiness. In case that post worried you, if you are not being a complete prick, it won’t be so bad. Might I suggest, not listening to the music, you really can’t hear it, it’s just adding noise on top of noise. Turns out, I’ll probably need one a year for ten years**, so I’ll experiment and report back.

pollygosh_testing1
 

The New Ones:

 

Mammogram – My Mammogramographer (yes! I like it, hark medical world, I’ve created a new word – you are most welcome) was very chatty on the subject. I was apologising for my small chest (I have learnt now to always cherish what ever you are blessed with) and she said that to her (a lady who sees boobs all day for a living – mind boggling) truly small breasts are just nipples, while really large boobs take 4 or more sections to scan – good to know the world of breasts is so diverse. Before this, I have just been going on my own and the Hollyoaks Cast from FHM Magazine circa my Uni years….. 

 

She also told me that small breasts have an easier time of it pain wise, it may be more painful for those whose cups runneth more over. It’s basically squeezing your boobs in a vice. It is not dignified but at least it’s brief and I would hope, those doing the test are as kind as my lady was. I was going to write a rant here about how men don’t get their bits squeezed in a vice. Then I remembered what they do get and I deleted it (self-censoring, this is new)

 

Important point here – Burt DID NOT turn up on the Mammogram at all. This is because I am young and my breast tissue is firm (that is also my online dating profile***). If you are worried about a lump and you too are younger than 50 – make sure they do a needle or a core biopsy, remember Burt didn’t look harmful but he was.

 

CT – Nowhere near as bad as an MRI. Yes, you may have the weird remote injection (it’s like the staff don’t want to be near radiation and grow another head – I’m not of the science is behind that last sentence) and even weirder – the fluid is warm, you will feel like you’ve wet your self. It’s actually kind of cool, to experience how quickly fluids move around your body. Oh, BTW you won’t actually have wet yourself, my CT-ographer (and another one) took great pains to tell me this on several occasions, I don’t know if I looked really worried or not worried enough.

 

So, take home point**** from this blog post; these tests are happening whether you want them or not. Let’s face it, unless you are a masochist or you suffer from Munchausen’s syndrome (both of which, I am even less qualified to talk about), you don’t want the test. Well you do but you don’t. But you will have the test, you can either be brave or you can kick off and be a pain in the poor health professional’s ass. Be Brave, it feels better in the end.

 

It takes me all of my meagre courage to submit myself to tests. I think that’s pretty normal and healthy – again, unless your a masochist – running from pain is generally the way to go….

 

Inner-Voice reasoning when I’m weighing up being brave vs kicking off:

 

“The doctors won’t give me a test that I don’t really need, I want these doctors to like us.”
“You have pathological need for everyone to like us” 
“Perhaps if I show them how good I can be at taking this test, they will think I am cool and want to be my friend.”
“Good Grief”
“They will talk, in the locker room, about this amazingly brave and cool girl who took a test so well”
“Really? You’re still talking?”
“Then one of the Hot Doctors from Grey’s Anatomy will…”
“Those are Actors you freak”
“….Will show up at my door”
“and A. will kick them out”
“Hey this is my fantasy…Wait? Have they finished it already?”

 
 

I am now off to re-paint my toe nails red. This is actually my top tip ever, my lovely friend Miss B, started me doing it years ago. 

 

Paint your toes red because however undignified, painful or frustrating the days hospital visit has been, you will know you’ve been doing it while rocking awesome red toes. 

 

I think it works in daily life too. As Churchill said “if in doubt wear red (toes)” Yes in fact the Prosecco fairy has spoken, let’s make this a thing – red toes all round. Report back if you think it helps crappy days. Ignore your grandma who once told you “only cheap girls wear red nails” for the times they have a changed. 

 

Thank you!

pollygosh_testing3

*Let’s please remember the 1 2 3 4 Mantras of Little Blog 1) I hope it doesn’t happen to you. 2) these are my own personal views 3) check your bits and bobs 4) everything is better with cake, 5) Be Kind

 

** Damn you long reaching consequences of Cancer, point to you!

 

*** Joking, obvs….

 

**** Who says that outside Corporate-land? Me, apparently after a couple of glasses, can it be that I get more geeky with booze?

pollygosh_elephant2

Elephant 2

So, to another Elephant. (My posts are getting longer, How do we feel about this?)

A lot and I mean a lot of the messages I’ve received start with the phrase “I don’t know what to say”, people will go on to apologise or worry that I might not want them to be in touch. They then go on to write something so kind and eloquent it blows my socks off*. There seems to have been a lot of deleting and re-writing of messages too and this all got me thinking.

Why is society so bad at teaching us what is the ‘right thing to say’. Is there not an Etiquette guide? There probably is, but is it any good?

I’ve just checked my copy of Debrett’s Etiquette for girls** (though it says ‘girls’ , there’s a woman’s figure on the front, I think the publishers are being a bit coy here) and I can’t see a chapter or even a section on the topic (I’m going to do more research on that, you can be sure).

I’ll try and be as honest with how I feel*** on the subject, based on this brush with cancer and losing my mum (which also seems to fluster people), I truly don’t mean to offend.

Firstly, I don’t think it’s entirely accurate to say there is ‘no right thing to say” because there sure is a wrong thing; if you tell someone they deserve to be ill, for instances – deffo not cool. (To be clear this has not happened to me). It is also not cool, Mr Doctor Man, to say, on hearing of my mum’s death “well the mind was strong but the body was weak” – implication of weakness in a dead loved one = bad. Also not brilliant, Mr Gentleman, was when you came up after my mum’s funeral (where I had just spoken) and said “I was at a funeral last week, where the daughter gave a truly inspirational speech.” So the over all tone of what you say should basically not imply blame (or dent my ego because I’ll remember it for years….)

Here’s one for the sick or bereaved – you do not have to tell someone, if you don’t want to; if you only have a few minutes, or you do not know the person very well, or you are either feeling very good that day or you are not very chipper at all. It may be all consuming to you, but move on with a smile and a cheery wave (is it slightly sick and wrong of me to think, as I do this, “well, you’ve just dodged an awkward bullet my friend”, and then want to kick them?) It’s not lying and it’s ok, it’s sometime better even, because -

And this seems very unfair sometimes but YOU, as sick or bereaved person extraordinaire, are going to have to take the lead when telling someone. You are basically punching them hard in the head and then, as they fall backwards, you will need to run round to catch them as well. You then need to remember, that people get a bit ‘spinny’ after head wounds. This is a metaphor, please don’t literally do this. It all takes precious, very precious, energy. If you don’t have it or simply don’t want use it (which is totally fine) revert to a smile and a cheery wave.

For the friends – Do not worry too much about saying the wrong thing, likelihood is unless it’s specatularly crass (see above) we are going to move on pretty quick – got other fish to fry, if you know what I mean. The sentiment will remain long after your words.

Ok, this one is controversial and very personal; I, myself, am not a huge fan of “I’m Sorry”, mainly because my automatic reply is generally “it’s not your fault” which then makes me feel like a tool (unless it is your fault – in which case, please take the pin out of the voodoo doll, I’ve learned my lesson). Really annoyingly, as I know myself, it’s the first thing you want to say, it’s reflex. I have said it in the last week infact, and I was sorry. It takes a minute to think of something to say without using the word Sorry….Which goes to prove what a contrary minx I am AND how difficult this mine field is. Perhaps we can declare ‘I’m sorry’ a neutral zone and I shall get over my self….

I do much prefer a “It’s shit” or ‘It’s rubbish” **** and a quick hug (hug is optional, depending on how tactile either side is, although if you are the reticent hug giver – man up and hug them for crying out loud)

Now, this ones important, friends of; even if it’s a huge shock, even if it’s a close friend – try not to cry, at least until you get the lay of the land. You are dealing with someone, who is probably spending a great deal of time and energy, trying not to cry, a lot of the time (in the early days mostly). Perhaps they need a good weep or perhaps they’ve done their makeup and really don’t, the truth is tears beget tears, so let them take the lead. And definitely don’t do sad eyes!

To both sides, while laying it out in an email or text is reprehensible when dumping some one. It is, I think, a good way to go in these situations. Tears can be shed in private, correct language used, long boring explanations of type and treatments put succinctly (and copied and pasted again and again – good tip there), minimal energy used, it’s win win. Or a good back up if you think you messed up the first time.

For the record, if you want to get the message across, in whatever way you want, then do, life is short. It really does feel good to know you’re being thought about and it sure breaks up the day.

You know what else is really nice? Letters, letters and cards that have news in them that have nothing to do with you, the sick or bereaved. I think it’s lovely to know what else is going on in the world. (Fist bumps to Miss S and Miss B. xxx)

Very last, final thing, and I find my self typing it again and again – it’s what my mother always used to say, so it must be important, be kind to each other. In fact, it is so important I’m adding to to the Little Blog Mantras – Just Be Kind.

 

* How lucky am I to be surrounded by such wonders of the human world?

 

** I do really own this book, I often need to look up the correct way to address an envelope to a Lord or which gun to use on safari….

 

*** Let’s please remember the 1 2 3 4 Mantras of Little Blog 1) I hope it doesn’t happen to you. 2) these are my own personal views 3) check your bits and bobs 4) everything is better with cake.

 

****I prefer ‘it’s shit’, the slightly aggressive edge buoys me on and this situation is, in fact, really shit.

 

 

pollygosh_voices

The Voices In My Head – MRI Scan Edition.

This is why one of the Golden Rules is about being too cocky…. It’s written for Miss Z, who has been a great friend – she is smart and beautiful (she did not pay me to say this).

“Ha, as nice as she was, that nurse doesn’t know what she’s talking about. There’s no way I’m going to need this panic button, those people who’ve used it – did she say 2 in the last week alone? – they must be made of marshmallows compared to me”

“OOO, marshmallows, I love s’mores, OOO we should totally do that in the summer.”

“Yes inner-voice that is a very good plan – wait are we moving?”

“Holey-moley, we are really close to the top of this tube thing, it’s a good thing that we, unlike some, are not claustrophobic.”

“Don’t be too smug now, it isn’t nice.”

“You’re right inner-voice, so wise.”

“Thank you…. Have I told you I think we are rocking Cancer Chic at the moment?”

“Why no, but thank you, I think the Sweaty Betty yoga bottoms are a good way to go, practical and comfy…. It’s a bit cool in here though, imagine, the nurse said we probably wouldn’t need the blanket! Glad we insisted.”

“WHAT ? I CAN”T HEAR YOU, RADIO 2 AT THIS VOLUME REALLY ISN’T PLEASANT, WHY COULDN”T WE HAVE RADIO 4?”

“WHAT ARE YOU SAYING? I CAN’T REALLY HEAR YOU, IF THEY PLAYED RADIO 4 AT THIS VOLUME I’M PRETTY SURE WE COULD STILL HEAR IT, EVEN WITH THESE WEIRD BLEEPS AND GROANS”

(dear reader, please for both ours sakes, imagine that the rest of this monologue / stream of consciousness is all in CAPS because damn, if MRI’s aren’t loud)

“We’ve had one of these before haven’t we? On our deaf ear? I don’t remember it being like this. We fell asleep didn’t we?”

“Now that I’m really thinking about it, I think we were lying on our good ear, thus cushioning us from all this hideous sound”

“And that’s just the music”

“Ha, you’ve still got it, calm under fire, like always”

“Shhhh, I think the nurse is speaking”

“Did she just say that that was just one of the tests?”

“Yes, it appears that is what she said”

“But it’s been ages and ages”

“You realise, it’s probably been about 5 minutes?”

“Shut up”

…………..

“OK, don’t shut up, talk to me. I don’t like this noise and the needle in my arm is making me a bit twitchy”

“Yes it is weird that they are going to inject things into us remotely”

“Weird? it’s down right creepy, Like H.A.L”

“You know, you shouldn’t really reference things you haven’t seen, it’s ok when it’s just you and me, but you may get caught out around others”

“Is this not like H.A.L then?”

“How would I know? We haven’t seen it?”

“Good point………………………….I think it’s like H.A.L”

“Shall we go back to not speaking? Lets just try and listen to the radio over this din”

“>……..

“O.K, can we speak, the nurse just said we were getting an injection now and I’m a little scared”

“Let’s think about happy things, remember when we first met A.”

“Of course, he was building a quick-change area the size of a small apartment”

“I think he had on a the striped T-shirt he now wears on the allotment or the weird one about hair”

“It’s a good guess, it was probably one of those, he normally was. Can you remember your first kiss?”

“With A? I can, but as it was rather Gin sodden I’d rather not at the moment. This metallic taste in my mouth is rather unpleasant, like hangover mouth”

“It’s just from the injection, We stood in a bucket of paint didn’t we?”

“Yes, but move it along please

“Shall we think about the lovely view over the ocean at Friday Harbour, walks with Dad, the beach with a cup of tea? That was a really nice time, we are lucky”

“I do not feel very flipping lucky at the moment, I am in a tiny tube, topless, with my tits in a cage, I’m 34 and I have cancer!”

“Woah there missy, calm down, breath”

“I am too hot, the radio is too loud, the noise over the radio is off the scale loud”

“Those are all facts, but it won’t last forever, lets count to ten. One, two, three, four…”

“I don’t want to count to ten, leave me to my misery”

“No, as Meatloaf says, ‘I won’t do that’ ”

“Have I told you lately…”

“Rod Stewart”

“…That you, are possibly the un-coolest, jackass in the world?”

“You know what? I’ve been trying to be kind to you but there is just no dealing with you when you are being like this”

>“Hang on a minute, this is what they want. They want us to turn on each other, this is some torture device…”

“No, I’m pretty sure it’s an MRI”

“It could be used for torture, not that I approve of that kind of thing, but I bet this would be more effective than water boarding, I’d give up Dad, I’d give up A, hell I’d tell them anything they wanted to know.”

“Could you be more dramatic”

Friends isn’t cool anymore”

“You’ve just quoted Meatloaf and Rod Stewart, and you haven’t seen 2001, A Space Odyssey – at your age – cool is a distant dream, my friend”

“Well, if you can’t handle this, your secret dream to be an FBI or CIA agent is laughable”

“Come to think of it, do you wonder why it’s an FBI or CIA agent? What’s wrong with MI5, like Bond?”

“That’s it I’ve had enough, I want out. I want out. I’m pressing the button”

“NOOOOOO! Remember what the nurse said, if we press the button we will only have to redo it. Just stay calm, it can’t be much longer”

“I’m sorry, I can’t, I’m so hot, I hate the metal tube, lying on my front and my own thoughts. I’m pressing the button”

“SHHHH wait, we’re moving, we’re going out”

“Oh thank fuck for that, that was the longest 45 minutes of my life”

pollygosh_elephant1

Three Elephants in the Room, Part 1

There’s an elephant on the little blog, several actually, and I am not talking about my one smurf blue nipple.*

 

Since starting little Blog, Or PollyGosh! as I never seem to call it, I have had emails, texts, calls and tonnes of FB comments and private messages. I’ve not been very quick or eloquent in my returns. This feels incredibly rude in light of all the amazingly kind, wonderful and frankly blush-inducingly flattering words that have headed my way. I keep saying to myself, tomorrow I’ll reply, tomorrow, tomorrow – truth is I’m feeling a bit shy, speechless and just incredibly grateful that people are reading little blog, liking little blog and then telling me about it.

 

As I’ve mentioned before, it started as a place to log this time in my life. I wrote the first post on a day when I was feeling quite low about things and shared it on FB on a whim. It was quite late on a Saturday, so I thought it would probably go un-noticed. I thought perhaps Dad and A. would read it, they’ve always been very supportive of my writing (Perhaps the page hits are just Dad, A. and the MM’s constantly hitting refresh…In which case thanks guys).

 

So a huge and hearty thanks to everyone who has been in touch, by whatever medium. A BIG thank you to those who are reading and coming back again, especially because my spelling and grammar can get a little junky – it’s when I’m excited to post something, I’m not as thorough as I should be (sorry Dad). Another really, Huge Thank You to those who’ve read it once, hated it and then not commented, you deserve some love too – though you probably won’t see this…..

 

If little blog makes you smile, if it elevates any fears you have about any of this, then it has done far more than it was created to do and I am super Happy.

 

If it makes you check your bits and bobs or go to the doctors, when you’ve been putting it off, well then, I’m really bloomin’ chuffed because Burt (the tumour formally known as benign) – as the my BC nurse told me just the other day and is born out by my very experienced GP and MBS (who is a Don of Breast Cancer) – did not look or feel, anything like the usual malignant tumours. This is possibly because I am young  – which is still, thank goodness, quite rare (young and unique, I like it… well, not really) – but it’s on the increase, no one knows why. I hope this doesn’t scare anyone un-necessarily but can it disconcert you enough to check yourselves regularly?

 

Speaking of which, hop over to:

 

Coppafeel.org

 

Meet Kris, who is truly brave and inspirational – she’s my all time, number one girl-crush.

more on this in a later post, though, as I promised A., not with photos. Those can be purchased via the webshop…. I jest, I jest because that my friends would be a very different kind of internet site.

pollygosh_truth-speaking

Truth Speaking aka Golden Rules Vol. 1

It is another beautiful spring day outside. Unlike yesterday, I am writing this post in the waiting room of the BCC (point to cancer- what cancer doesn’t know, is that I’ve got an amazing brownie for after this meeting – point to me!)*.

Dad is reading a paper entitled ‘Presynaptic Spike Broadening Reduces Junctional Potential Amplitude’ – I’ve copied that with out knowing what it means, there are some very pretty graphs on it. I am resisting my desire to contemplate the plug sockets again (they are at an awfully funny height for sockets) and so I am writing this list of truths, rules and top tips**, I may write longer posts on some of them but here goes, in no particular order:

  • Try, if you can, to prep for your future by going on a roller-coaster, blindfold. This is what results days, tests day or in fact everyday will feel like, the highs and lows are “Cray Cray”.
  • You will come away from every appointment with a saplings worth of paperwork, proving that cancer is not just bad for you, it is bad for the environment.
  • You will not be able to comprehend how far reaching a cancer diagnoses will affect your life, present and future – this is a very good thing.
  • Lymphedema may prove to be a bigger nemesis than cancer. Grrr.
  • You will worry about money, especially if you are a freelancer. You will then realise that there are people a lot worse off, that you have options and that you are, once again, luckier than most.
  • Conversely, money worries will probably not stop you spending extravagantly on crazy things because a) it makes you happy, even just for a minute b) why the hell not? Try really hard not to go too wild because…
  • ….You will still have to do everyday, normal things like paying bills – the bank does not know you have just been put on a mental rocket to Mars.
  • Final note on shopping, try not to internet shop while high on morphine. I, apparently, have a Turkish bath towel winging it’s way to me – from what I remember, it really seemed like the most important purchase of my life at the time. (If I’m being kind to myself I could see it has a defiant shout – that I’ll be swimming again soon).  A. once bought a vegetable peeler when coming down from sedation, we already had 2. So I guess we’ve got off pretty lightly, as long as we don’t mention the shoes….
  • It will take more than breast cancer to convince Dad and A that you should be allowed a French Bulldog – not even when you bat your eyelashes.
  • Your Doctors (and all NHS staff actually) are titans but they may not know everything at the very moment that you may wish know it. Like your parents before them, they may seem God-like but like you, they are human. They are the best kind of human because they spend their days breaking the worst kind of news. Always keep this in your mind.
  • The above, is why you will spend you days at BCC trying to get the gruff, scots receptionist to like you…. heres still hoping.
  • The hospital will suggest you bring someone with you to your appointments, to help remember what is said. However, you wouldn’t take someone who didn’t love you, but because they love you, they may forget too. Don’t worry, between you both, you can cobble it together. BRING A NOTEBOOK.
  • You will realise just how vain you really are.
  • You will feel guilty, about a shed load of odd things. This will at times annoy and exasperate your loved ones.
  • When used judiciously the phrase “who wants to talk about cancer” can bring levity to a situation.
  • Following on from the last point, only use your C-card for good, preferably funny reasons.
  • You will promise yourself you will not use your C-card to gain the advantage – with great illness comes great responsibility.
  • At some point, in a fit of pique, you will break this rule. Don’t be to hard on yourself when it happens.
  • You will find a lot of humour in life with cancer, just don’t push yourself – it’s surprising how quickly darkly funny can turn simply dark. Advise others of this too.
  • Medical Professionals are not allowed to find your illness funny. Case in point; when asked about your alcohol consumption (which you will be several times a visit) your answer probably shouldn’t be a) right now? yes, Gin please or b) I am now an alcoholic (delivered dead pan)***. But they must have a a sense of humour or else they wouldn’t make you wait for the Breast Nurse in front of rows upon rows of boxes of fake boobs….
  • You will start a bucket list (or if that’s too bleak a Life ‘to do list’) when you read it back you will discover a) you will need to be a millionaire b) you are generally a lot shallower than you’d hope and c) you are obsessed with food.
  • The first 3 questions you will want to ask, upon finding out, will probably surprise you and possibly the BCC nurse you are speaking to. Asking if you can swim while having Chemo as your opening gambit for instance….
  • You will become a walking cliche, this will piss you off.
  • Your body will no longer belong solely to you.
  • Do not be cocky about any test or hospital visit – karma will bite you on the ass.
  • People will spend a lot of time telling you – you are young. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes a bad but because you are so vain it will always feel nice.
  • This goes for anything to do with your BMI too.
  • No one will know how to react when you tell them something like this, you wouldn’t have known a week ago, this will sometimes annoy you.
  • You don’t suddenly become any better at handling other peoples bad news. You will forget the phrases that annoyed you and use them on said people. At some later point, this will really peeve you too.
  • Always thank your medical team, your loved ones, friends, blog readers and supporters.

So Thank You, Thank You and once again Thank You. Your words of kindness and love fill my days with light.

* I also got no more bad news today – another point to me!

** Let’s please remember the 1 2 3 4 mantras of little blog 1) I hope it doesn’t happen to you. 2) these are my own personal views 3) check your bits and bobs 4) everything is better with cake.

*** Not least because they’ve probably heard it before. Several times.