- Referral to the Breast Clinic
- Breast Reconstruction
- Breast Cancer Surgery
Flowers and cards have started arriving - I haven't told that many people, as I wanted to know my prognosis first. It's a very different message to deliver, "I've had cancer, but the operation cured it" to "I have cancer and need further treatment". But word has got out and I'm very moved by all the kind thoughts and palpable relief from those close to me. I'm absurdly touched by a plant and a square of chocolate brownie left on the doorstep by the bass player in my husband’s band with a note - "heard you might be feeling a little crappy".
The house is full of flowers - they look beautiful but I can't help reflecting on the dichotomy: as you recover, the flowers gradually wilt and putrify. I spend time changing the water in multiple vases and combining arrangements as the shorter lived flowers die. My oldest school friend, recently recovering from an operation herself, more practically sends me a boxed set of a French zombie series. A neighbour from book club sweetly delivers some handmade chocolates, which make a welcome replacement to the chocolates my husband bought for me and ate. I receive an unexpected call from a mum at school who has heard my news - "I had a mastectomy 7 years ago for the same as you". Another mum contacts me, she had a lumpectomy and subsequent augmentation. Over the week I'm struck by how many friends tell me they are supporting friends and family through breast cancer at the moment. A previous sufferer advises me not to tell everyone if I don't want to be treated as a cancer victim or hear other peoples' horror stories, before proceeding to tell me about the multiple infections she suffered after her mastectomy and implant.
My family visits in waves. I feel very lucky and surrounded by love and concern. I'm informed two churches, a synagogue and four Masonic lodges have been praying for me. I'll take what I can get but feel a slight twinge of atheistic guilt.
With the compression tape removed I take a closer look at my breast. There is still a see- through waterproof dressing over the steristrips on the nipple and a dressing over the short incision where the lymph node was removed. I'm impressed the majority of my skin on my breast is almost undamaged excepting where my nipple was and the small scars from the biopsies. I'm pleased that the dressing is still there - I'm not ready to look at it yet. I have sensation on the surface of my skin but not underneath - it's quite strange.
The breast is pretty much the same size as the other one but with a weird protruding angle on the outer edge where the unfilled section of the temporary implant is lying. The sides of the Evil Chunky Bra makes this sticking out bit hurt but my profile in clothes is not noticeably changed. This boosts my confidence immensely.
As the week progresses I allow myself to start considering my options for preventive treatment. The news headlines are at odds with the medical evidence of Tamoxifen's effectiveness. I listen to three other acquaintances' experiences on Tamoxifen - 2 out of 3 were fairly negative. I resolve to do more research. The blogs online seem to be predominantly negative but maybe that's why they're on the blog in the first place looking for solidarity. The organic vegetable conversation comes back to haunt me - all those years avoiding pesticides only to spend the next 5/10 years pumping chemicals into me. It doesn't sit comfortably.