Double Whammy Mammy (gram)

Early Monday morning I found myself on the 3rd floor of the Linda McCartney Centre dressed in a black trouser suit and heels. With my Paul Costelloe tote bag (God bless ya TK Maxx) and drug dealer white blackberry (I was given it by work. It's not my fault) I may have passed for a high flying surgeon or the head of some department ending in ology. 

In reality medicine and I were never to be bed fellows given my patent fear of all things medical. I am very much my father's daughter in that respect. Once, during what should have been a routine trip to the opticians, he had to be escorted up on to the roof to get some air for fear he would pass out. Actually I'm not sure why they didn't just take him through the front door. Hmmm must ask him that.

Many years later, when he absolutely could not stand the dental pain anymore, my mum and I drove him to the practice and stayed with him whilst he was sufficiently sedated that, even if he wanted to, he would not have the wherewithall to do a runner. Once his treatment was done we had to half carry, half drag him between us through the streets of Monton village and prop him up in the back of my car like something from Weekend at Bernie's.

And so it is that I, also, am not good with medical procedures. I have been a lot better since having my second son. I haven't had much choice. Following an emergency cesarean I had to have an epidural blood patch to cure the worst migraine ever. But that's another blog for another day....

And so I work for a bookmakers. As in betting shops. I always think that if I say "bookmakers" people will think I actually make books. And I don't. I wouldn't know where to begin.

Anyway my clothing was largely irrelevant when I was presented with yet another gown and shown into the room where I would be having the biopsy.

My old nemesis the mammography machine dominated the room only this time I was to have the procedure lying down. That's not so bad, I thought, and the abscess is much better now so this shouldn't be too painful. How wrong i was.

I had to lie on my right side with my left boob compressed in the plates whilst stretching my arms above my head. I don't think the yoga gurus have thought of a name for that one yet. And i'll tell you why. It's because it is beyond the realms of human endurance. They think they're so clever with their downward facing dogs but until you've done the sidewards facing breast squash you haven't really lived. 40 minutes I had to lie like that staring at some lame picture of tulips on an illuminated background. The nurses tried making small talk but as one ear was flat to the bed and the other was covered by my left arm it was rather trying for them after my one hundredth "pardon" or "what did you say?". 

Eventually it was done. Again, I was warned that there might be bruising and some pain when the local anaesthetic wore off but that it should be controllable with regular painkillers.

It was the most uncomfortable procedure I had to date and I still trooped off to work like the brave soldier I am. Scratch that. I wasn't being brave. I was being stupid. I had been diagnosed with DCIS, was mentally feeling the strain, had just endured a particularly tortuous procedure and an hour later was sat in my office waiting for my first appointment of the day which, ironically, was a member of staff who wished to return to work after being off sick with stress after her boyfriend left her. Lord give me strength.

Midway through the afternoon my breast was throbbing with increasing intensity so I took a couple of David's co-codamol I had purloined(he has to take them daily due to a back injury which led to him being medically retired) which certainly took the edge off. In fact, when they were taken with a can of Tesco's Blue Spark (poor mans Red Bull), the rest of the day passed by pleasantly enough.

In my drug induced buzz (my mum always says you should never take someone else's prescriptipn drugs. She may be right) I even plucked up the courage to make a call I had been dreading. The call to the boss.

As it transpired he was great about it. I was worried that I would have to take more time off when I had just come back from maternity leave but he told me not to worry about work.  I don't know what I expected him to say really. It's not like i'd got cancer just to piss him off and yet I had been dreading telling him as if it were somehow my fault. I am something of a workaholic and have never taken a day off sick in 18 years, it's just not something i do so for me to "ring in sick" was a strange feeling.  Especially as I didn't feel sick. 

The painkillers were just starting to wear off when I got a text from my sister that read;

"Women are like teabags - you don't know how strong they are until they are in hot water"

I smiled. Sometimes the best pain relief of all is to know that the people you love are on your side. Cancer doesn't have a chance against that.

Latest comments

20.12 | 20:45

Hi Dave,
Thanks for the kind words.
I did indeed work in North Cyprus back in the day - Turkbet?

18.12 | 11:06

Hi Donna, remarkable, uplifting and inspiring read.
Did you ever work in North Cyprus around 10 years ago?

15.10 | 17:15

Hi Donna, you are so inspiring. I have just had my 2nd mastectomy 8 days ago out of choice, first one was 5 months earlier as small cancer found.well done you

30.09 | 15:12

well done for finishing EPI!

I can't send a longer response on here but would like to share my experience of CMF at or the forum on macmillan.