A waiting game

Tues 17th September - Mon 7th October

In years to come, when I reflect upon this time,I think one of the things I will remember the most is the waiting. I don't know if it is the same for every woman in this country but, in Liverpool, if treated at the Royal they only have their results clinic on a Friday so even if the results are back earlier in the week you won't get them. I think this cannot be right. I'm sure there are reasons for it that I don't know but it still cannot be right. If the results are available on a Tuesday then we should get them on a Tuesday. Apparently the team at The Royal have a "multi-disciplinary" meeting to discuss everyone's results, and subsequent treatment plans,and that's fine. I get that. But the results are the results. They won't change the more that they discuss them. Perhaps there are some people who could not bear to recieve bad news over the phone and that they need an expert on hand to answer any questions immediately. But there will also be people who just need to know the news as soon as possible. So I think the facility should exist for the patient to decide.

Anyway rant over...

The biopsy result came back as all DCIS. 5 centremetres of it. Large enough to necessitate a mastectomy. 

My surgeon explained the procedure and, as my breasts were quite small (yep him again) he was confident of a great result. He produced a photo album of women he had previously operated on and, compared to the images Dr Google had thrown up, they were really quite impressive. He explained again about how I would be injected with blue dye so that he could identify the sentinel node and how this would likely give my face a blue tinge.

A wicked thought crossed my mind. Now I love my sister dearly but she played a terrible practical joke on me 7 and a half years ago that still causes me flashbacks. After many painful years of trying she finally gave birth to my nephew who I adored more than words can say. I even moved back from living in Cyprus to be near him so imagine my horror when I was at my sister's house and she was bringing my 6 month old nephew down from his bath.

Wrapped in an adorable little blue gown she carried him , like the precious cargo he was, ever so carefully down the stairs singing softly to him. I stood up, so excited to see him,and she turned him round to face me and......aaaaaaggghhhh!! He had a long snout and staring orange eyes. I screamed. I actually screamed. My heart was in my mouth as my sister collapsed into absolute hysterics...it was a bear. A hideous teddy bear. When she recovered she told me she had thought of accidentally "dropping" it as she headed downstairs but that might have been too cruel. Oh you think? Bloody idiot.

So my opportunity for revenge may just have presented itself...I had visions of me lying in my hospital bed blue of face and chest, i could put foundation on my lips to make myself even paler than I already am and lie very still when she came to visit me asking pathetically for her to get me a nurse. When she returned with said nurse I would be lively and upbeat and apologise for my "overbearing" sister. God she would hate that. In the end I decided that cancer is no laughing matter and I would content myself with leaping out at her from behind a door as normal...

When the surgeon put his "Titbook" (like Facebook for breasts if you will) away he replaced it with his diary and this was it..the date was being set for my mastectomy. Tuesday 8th October at a time to be decided on the day. I said okay.

A few days later I had my pre-op appointment in the ward where I would be having my operation. Perched on top of the reception desk sat a giant penguin covered in pink buttons ( the men with breast cancer must love all this pink ) and David and I sat in the waiting room watching Lady GaGa videos. I must admit that i'm rather out of touch with popular culture and was, therefore, amazed what the censors allow in said videos. The raunchiest popster in my day was Debbie Gibson.

The pre-op consisted of a hundred questions about allergies, dentures, anaesthetic, allergies again, existing conditions and more about allergies. They really are hung up on allergies. I swear to God, in the course of this whole debacle, a dozen different people must have asked me if i'm allergic to anything. Even the lady who brought my lunch asked if I had a nut allergy.Aaaaaaggghhh.

Along with the questions I also had my 'before'' photographs taken no doubt to be featured in Titbook at some point in the future. It was a strange experience to be photographed topless and,even though I knew my face wouldn't be pictured, I still gave my best Victoria Beckham face. I read a tip from VB once that you should look just above the camera and squint as if facing direct sunlight. So I did. Old habits die hard. The photographer must have thought I was either nuts or had an eye condition.

I was given some energy drink sachets, asked to sign a consent form and sent to give blood on the ground floor. The blood unit was like the first day of the Selfridges sale, talk about busy. Every chair, and there must have been at least 80, was taken and we had to take a number and wait until ours was called. It was exactly the same system the meat counters used in supermarkets of old (wonder why they stopped doing that?)

We were number 54 and they were on 3. Great. We went round the corner to the little cafe and got ourselves a cup of tea and a lemon shortbread to share (one each at those prices? I think not). 

As it was we only had to wait about 45 minutes and we were on our way out.

As we left the hospital it hit me like a ton of lead. I was losing a breast. There were no more tests to be done. No last minute stay of execution. I was to lose my breast and that was that. Next time I left this place I would be leaving a part of me behind.

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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?
Donna

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18.12 | 11:06

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

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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

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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 dvfox76@aol.com or the forum on macmillan.

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