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.

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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!

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*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?

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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.

 

 

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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”

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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.

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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.

 

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Part 2 (sort of)

Can I preface this post by saying that I’m writing this on a beautiful spring day, hanging with the niecelet on a blanket, while my family work the allotment (Note to A, sadly not our allottment). If I wasn’t recovering from the Op, I’d be in doors at work – Ha, ha cancer I win this round.
 

So where had we got too? Oh yes, I’d just won entrance into the Breast Care Centre, a place that at points, seemed more exclusive than SoHo house. When actually the reverse is true, they can’t give memberships away, so they sneakily stuff them into your bras instead. No suave mixologists here, just amazing NHS staff handling the brave and scared masses.

There are a lot of plugs sockets in the waiting room of the BCC, like a ridiculous amount, sockets as far as the eye can. I cannot stress this point enough, there are an insane amount of sockets here. I can’t for the life of me figure out why there are so many, it’s my new favorite way to wile away the waiting game because none of them are being used! You see? The mind boggles.

If I’m not pondering the sockets, I’m reading hideously out-of-date copies of Hello magazine. Granted, they’d be hideous if they were last weeks but they sure are distracting and the orange people in them lead crazy lives. My Grandma used to buy Hello for me as a treat (?) when I was younger so I find them quite comforting.

Dad always has a science journal or a pre-bought newspaper with him. I always bring a book too but it’s soon ignored – which is why he will be even smarter at the end of all this and I will know who the cast of Made in Chelsea* are. I guess cancer wins that round then.

I am about to make perhaps the most obvious of all the observations thus made on little blog; I do not like hanging out in the BCC waiting room. Don’t get me wrong, they have tried to make it nice – apart from the sockets, really what is that about? (must stay on topic). The truth is, I do not like being around sick people. Wait, I need to qualify that, I welcome the support and love from those now in the trenches or those who have gone before. I more than welcome it, I am grateful for it, I really hope I can be a rock for others someday**. I just do not like to be around sick people en masse. I’ve heard (and seen in movies) that the Chemo rooms are full of camaraderie and jolly banter, I think this is because there’s nothing else to do but plough on through. The BCC waiting room is a place of anxiety; of dashed hopes, of fear and A LOT of the bad kind of waiting. I think it’s because everyone is heads down and involved in their own fight, which is absolutely fair enough, but the JuJu is just a little funky.

We go in to see MBS and then it’s all cancer, cancer, cancer, blah, blah blah. I’ll introduce you all to Burt another time – yes I named my tumour Burt, irony of all ironies, he was christened Burt the Benign tumour in those blissfully unaware two days (let’s just ram that 2 theme home here shall we?) before life got weird. I think it was a work friend who renamed him Burt the Bastard.

Anyway the day finishes with Dad and I going to see a trashy, violent thriller – Liam Neeson’s Non-Stop. It certainly does the trick, it numbs the mind, I am no longer thinking about cancer. If the PR people for Non-Stop want to use that last sentence on the DVD jacket, feel free to quote me. The day we found out about mum’s re-diagnoses, I went to see The Dark Knight. I crave violent films when I get difficult news…. I wonder what that says about me?

 

* I was going to explain what this is, to those not in the know but then thought, why should we all suffer?

 

** Can we take it as read that I really don’t wish this on anyone else? I actively send out vibes that no one else in the history of ever gets this but that’s not realistic now is it? 1 in 3 people, people, so keep checking your bits and bobs, hell have a full medical!  (now I sound ominous – happy thoughts everyone, happy thoughts)

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I am the 2%

White noise that’s all I hear, white noise. Someone is trying to tell me something incredibly important and all I can hear are random whizzes and bleeps. I squeeze my eyes shut hoping this will help me concentrate, now I’ve got bright white in front of my eyes too. So I guess my abiding memory of finding out I have cancer is white, I bet there are worse memories

 

Can I stress again, how difficult I’m finding this post to write? If you think, in the last few days I’ve flooded little blog with posts; I’ve woken up thinking about writing, I’ve stayed up until 3am writing. I. Need. To. Write. This post, this post I’ve been staring at for a few days now and it’s slow going.

 

Dad says he’s finding it fascinating what I choose to write about and I’m finding it fascinating how little I want to go into this particular day. So I’ve analysed this and I think the problem is Two fold (sticking with our ‘Two” theme for today):

 

One: I know when people think about cancer and diagnoses it always seems really scary; people say it’s their worst nightmare. I don’t want to write the wrong thing, to concern people un-necessarily or project how others might feel. The truth is, for me, this life-altering news became normal surprisingly quickly, it’s now just what’s going on at the moment. There’s a reason for that which I’ll explain in a moment…

 

Two: The worst bit for me about this process so far? Telling the two people I love, more than anything, the news. I don’t remember what I said or how I said it, I’m not willing to scratch at that particular surface at the moment. I know I rang A first, waking him at some ungodly hour, I had to ring him first because I thought I’d probably cry and I didn’t want to cry when I told Dad (Sorry A, I love you). After that, it’s a very welcome blur. Do you know what gave me this gratefully received amnesia and helped me accept things, at least in the short term?

 

Full. On. Shock. Having done First Aid courses, I know how dangerous shock can be and I don’t mean to be flippant but looking back, I thank my lucky stars that I went straight into a room marked ‘shock’ and I didn’t come out for at least 48 hours.

 

Shock makes me very practical, or so I like to think. I’m not sure how practical it was of me to tell MBS that’d I’d probably have to swing by the Breast Care Clinic the next day, as I’d need to O.K the time off work……

 

This is where my second boob angel comes in. The actual very first person I told, actually in the flesh, was a work colleague. I used the phrase “I have Cancer” or maybe I just said “Cancer”. I think my eyes were a little wild which helped get my point across. Either way she moved me pretty swiftly out of the open plan office. 

 

My second ‘In the flesher’ was due to shock, it was a brill actor who made the mistake of asking me how I was doing. He then stood out side with me for a little bit, while I waited for my dad. 

 

The third was the wonderful Director I was working with. She was with me when my dad ran up. She hugged us and said, “you will both be ok” and I believe that helped get us to the hospital.

 

To these three lovely people, I say a heart felt thank you, for dealing with me so kindly and so gently. I’m also really sorry that fate threw you in my way and you got the un-finessed “I’ve got cancer” monologue. I really am more adept at it now.

 

End of Part One

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Rage aka the one where everyone stops reading

I’m not going to lie to you, I really thought this next post would be about diagnosis and everything that came next. It’s coming, I promise you, but it’s not there yet. I’m finding it a tough write. So please accept this terrifically un-PC ramble on Anger instead. With my apologies on every level.

 

I can’t seem to get angry at a cluster of rogue cells who don’t know any better, I can’t get angry at how unfair life may seem – turn the radio on, life isn’t fair or unfair it’s life and it has been fairer to me than a lot of people. I’m not even alone with this disease, I know of far too many people doing battle with cancer; some win, some lose but in amongst them, I’m not even that unlucky.

 

It’s like the rational side of my mind simply can’t or won’t blame biological processes (gee, thanks Dad). Sometimes, I would dearly love to have a full blown pity party with streamers and a cake, lots of cake, but I get half way into a “why me?” thought and I just can’t follow through. Maybe it’s brewing, maybe one day you’ll return to this blog to find a black-hole of a post. At the moment though I’m on the side of Happy.

 

I’m aware that this sounds sickly sweet and far too saintly, but please read on, I’m about to blow that out the water…..

 

Anger is good, I doubt you can get through any illness or loss without it. It’s what keeps you fighting and we all need a little fight in us.

 

So, do you know who gets my spectacularly, irrational anger at the moment? Those who abuse these amazing brain receptacles we’ve been given. Mine was in fairly good working order, I was looking after it ok, and it still malfunctioned on me. I can’t seem to get angry at it, so I’m going to be angry at you. 

 

1 in 3 people are going to get cancer at some point in their lives, so why in the world do you want to increase the odds that it’s you? Because if this looks like it is a fun way to spend a year or more, I’m not telling it right.

 

I guess I should go back to the first incidence of blind rage. A few days after my diagnosis I was sitting in a jacuzzi (I know, I know it’s a super tough, first world life I lead), it was pretty busy at the pool that day and everywhere was rammed*. I had had only about 2 minutes of bubbly goodness time when two huge people started tutting at me, my mind was occupied so I didn’t at first notice them, but they forced me to squish up with their eyeballs. Meaning I was bubble-less, so now I am just sitting in hot soup with 6.5 strangers, 2.5 of whom I would happily fillet and I’m thinking – “I’ve had a bad week, I really need these bubbles, here I am with my broken body, which I take care of and you don’t look like you care at all and I bet your bodies are just fine. And now you want my bubbles too? Well that’s fucking typical.” So I said nothing and got out. 

I got my passive aggressive revenge later when one of them wanted to dry their hair and I put my shoes on more slowly than normal while sitting at a hair drying stand. Yeah, yeah – How do ya like them apples lady?

 

And don’t get me started on the skin burners and the smokers – it simply blows my mind, how anyone, in this day and age would knowingly play Russian Roulette with two of the biggest Cancer Guns out there….. I have no words.

 

So feel free to tell me that you only live once, life is short and you should make hay while the sunshines.

 

1 in 3 people get cancer. Once you hear that diagnosis, you may get the anger but you will almost certainly get the guilt. The gut wrenching, stomach flipping fear that you could have done / not done something to stop this from happening to you. I imagine it’s a hell of a lot worse when that something is staring you right in the face.

 

So I say – do what you want, whoop it up with a cigar in one hand, cake in the other, butt naked in the midday sun if it makes you happy but do it in moderation and stop if you can see the effects too harshly in the mirror. Oh and check your boobs or your balls or both from time to time!

 

**** Can I book end this post by pointing out that I’m not totally ignorant? I’m aware that socio-economic factors play a huge factor, that other medical conditions can also be a cause, that illnesses like SAD and addiction are no laughing matter. That I’m aware how judgemental I sound? Can I also point out that I said that my anger was irrational? Gosh, I mean, it’s not like I’m blaming God….*******

 

*As a side note, I have observed, where I swim – in a rammed sauna/jacuzzi situation the females of the group will squish up and meekly make room, the males actively seem to open their legs wider and talk louder. What crazy Gender Politics is that about?

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All just a little bit of history

I feel like I need to give a little more context now, a little back story. As I start to write this post, I have very little idea how it’s going to come out, I’m more than a little curious frankly. I’ll try and make this as succinct as possible.
 
Some years ago my grandma died, and then my mum died. I was with them both and while this was a real privilege and I wouldn’t change it for anything, it was tough on me mentally. I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress disorder, which went untreated, as I busied myself convincing the world I was fine. 
 
I was not fine.
 
Two years down the line I was about as unfine as it is possible to be and it was about to get worse. 
 
A and I met when my mum was pretty sick. He walked into a crappy situation and became my life preserver, keeping my head above water after mum died. He covered for me – with family, friends, at work, everywhere – as I basically became a highly functioning, depressive agoraphobic. To those of you out there who knew me at the time, Ha! fooled you! I became very good at wearing a mask.
 
Then one day, or over the process of many months A realised that the person he fell in love with no longer existed, she had turned to colourless dust, who only wore a smile for the outside world. 
 
Now, everyone knows that break ups are hideous, people say stuff and do stuff that are really, really awful. As this blog is only one opinion, my opinion, I’m going to leave it there on this.
 
In short, we broke up.
 
I fell off the cliff then, the cliff that I had been edging towards for three long years and it was perhaps the best thing that ever happened to me. Because somebody caught me, lots of somebodies actually. 
 
I started to be honest with myself and others. I started getting professional help. I allowed my family to see I wasn’t fine. I trusted that my friends would still like me if I didn’t have a smile plastered on. I accepted help, as opposed to using one person as a crutch. I started saying yes to things instead of no. I actually started driving – some 8 years after passing my test. I started to exercise for the first time since school! I grew up and began to find my happy, all by myself.
 
And then somehow, somewhere along the way, A and I found our way back to each other. 
 
What I’m trying to say is that by the end of 2013 I was mentally and physically as fit and healthy as I’d ever been. Which is either incredibly ironic or wonderfully serendipitous, depending on the time of day I reflect on it. I also have an amazingly strong family unit – headed up by my superhero Dad, a rockstar boyfriend and just about the bestest group of friends / support network it is possible to have. And they all know the real me, not some warped fraction of a person. 
 

 

I feel lucky I had the 2013 I had because it made handling the news I was about to get easier. Had I got this diagnosis a year ago, you sure as hell wouldn’t be reading a blog about it.
 
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Letter

I wasn’t going to post again today but then I found this letter, written by my mother, years ago now, before she was even diagnosed. I typed it up a while ago with another purpose in mind. I have absolutely no idea what she’d say about this new situation and while the below was written about homesickness, I find it rather apt and incredibly comforting.


Nearly Thursday

Dearest

This is the only paper around so this will be a RED LETTER DAY for you (even if you are feeling rather blue). Actually, since, with any luck you will receive this on Saturday it will be rather special because Daddy will be coming down. It may not be in the car though because the poor old thing is rather sad and has to be hospitalised … It could be a lengthy operation. Oh dear.

It’s 3am and I’m writing this in the kitchen. I went into your room but it was too sad to sit in there. I woke an hour ago thinking and wondering about you, hoping you have managed a nights sleep yourself. Daddy said you called at 10ish – unhappy again and had found the disco rather loud so had come back early. I hope you managed to get thru to E and that speaking to him may have settled you down a bit.

The telephone at your ‘house’ was busy when I tried, so I left a goodnight note on your pager (a somewhat embarrassed young man was taking the message so I couldn’t be too soppy!) M also left a message when we arrived home, so you know we’ll always be thinking of you – as much (or more) than you think of us. Really, truly.

P, darling, I know your thoughts and feelings are awfully muddled just now – mine are too – of course I don’t want you to be unhappy and would much rather you had been looking forward to starting as you thought you would when you first saw the brochure.

….

I hope and (actually pray) that you will begin to see a light at the end of what must seem at the moment like a very dark tunnel, and that you can hang on to all sorts of little positive catch phrases like – imagine it’s this time next year, how far away all this will seem and try to help someone else – it’ll help you too and keep active mentally and physically – retreating from life makes it harder and people out there need you – need your sunshine to warm them and your smile to comfort them and your hugs to keep them going. You are blessed with so many gifts of love and tenderness, the world is a better place with you in it. You have so much to give.

(PG here, obviously she’s my mum so thinks I’m pretty great. Apologies for own horn tooting)

….

Everything that ever works best for people is what they’ve actually turned it into. It’s the creative part of living – not the pieces that are handed to you, you just smile and say “thank you” for those (and hold them dear) they are the passive gifts; the active ones are the ones you are about to receive by your own making – little things, like spending the first night, that’s an achievement. Coming back with M and me or even having us stay the night would have given you nothing to be proud of. Now you’ve done it! You never thought you would and you did! Just keep quietly patting yourself on the back for things like that a and you’ll realise bit by bit what I’m talking about.

….

We do miss you already and love you to bits.

Hugs and oo’s and kisses Mum