So we had a good Christmas - quiet - as ironically my Mother-in-law came down with flu and so it ended up being just the 4 of us after all. I was, however spoilt rotten as were we all. I ate too much and drunk to the excess and fell into bed exhausted and content. Boxing day passed pretty much the same and then came the hospital appointment yesterday.
First of all I met the Oncologist Dr Sarah Smith and ironically she had the nicest head of hair I have ever seen. I couldn't stop staring at how gorgeous it was. I continued to stare when she discussed putting in for the "Hereditary cancer gene" test. She told me she would make arrangements for the paperwork to be sent to me, however as I am aware that most cancers are not hereditary I was not unduly worried. She however continued to tell me that the test - if it is offered to me - would involve a simple blood test, yet it would take a couple of months for the results to come through - bet Sharon Osbourne never had that long to wait! Unfortunately, Katie my daughter - who we had promised to take to the sales afterwards - sat in on the appointment. Dr Smith told her she shouldn't worry as all my female family that had died of breast cancer had been in their late 40's. She is only 17, but I am 46!
She then went on to discuss how large the mass of cancer that had been removed from my breast was, along with the fact that even though everything was taken away along with the lymph nodes, the cancer that I had was very fast growing and if I had some particles floating about my body cells that were too small to see under scrutiny, then it was possible that other parts of my body could quickly become infected. So in this instance I was to have a bone and brain scan in the next week or so and further treatment would start within the next fortnight. She then asked me if I wanted to know that with the type of cancer that I had, what my odds were for survival? I blinked a few times and quickly told her that I had decided that I didn't want to know. I just stated that I am sure the good old NHS have got my back and I would take my chances and have the treatment.
This involves 6 sessions of chemotherapy every three weeks over the course of around 4 months as long as I am up to it. A cardiology appointment has been booked for New Years Eve to ensure that my heart is strong enough to take the treatment. The first 3 sessions involve some very invasive chemo made up of a cocktail of three different types of drugs being put into a line - which I will have to have surgically inserted at Addenbrooks hospital in the next week or so under a local anaesthetic - this would go into a main artery through my arm and into my chest. This line would stay in for the whole of my treatment.
Dr Smith told me that my hair would fall out completely within 2 to 3 weeks after the first session of chemo. So I get to have a wig fitting beforehand. I was then told about the other side effects I can expect - joy! All I can say is hopefully I won't get them all.
Then the last three sessions are a different type of chemo. Apparently all this is the best chemo that money can buy.
We also touched on the radiotherapy I would have, again quite invasive everyday for 3 weeks. This will be administered to the breast I have had reconstructed and near my collarbone, as this is the next lot of lymph nodes that could be infected. After this I have to stay on hormone drugs for 5 years and have regular check ups.
Now although none of this is a surprise to me, it now seems real - very real. I didn't realise the urgency of my condition and the speed of which my cancer can grow. I also didn't think that the possibility of waking up and finding my hair on the pillow would be a reality, I thought it was just something that people said to be scaremongery, not a fact.
I asked Dr Sarah Smith what the good news was? She just did that small laugh that people do when they don't have any answers. Lastly, she asked if there was any questions, I looked at my daughter and my husband and muttered something about having to take everything in. She nodded her head and agreed. I then signed my life away once more on a piece of paper that says the aim is to cure. Blah Blah Blah.
When we emerged from Dr Smith's office I went to the toilet and wept, I wept because Dr Smith had lovely hair and mine was going to be gone in a matter of weeks, I wept because she delivered everything to me in a perfectly simple way that I could understand - and I understood too well everything she was saying. I wept even more because my daughter was in the room and had heard everything that her mum had to go through and I wept because I thought I can't snap out of this and make light of it. I wanted to wallow in self pity, but I had got to put being a mother first. So I dried my eyes and came out and got into the car all dignified, even though I was dying inside.
All three of us went to a cafe in Bedford and I couldn't help myself I broke down in tears and so did Kate. My husband had tears in his eyes as he rushed around getting serviettes for us to dry our eyes on. The cafe was packed but none of us could help ourselves. An argument broke out, as I kept apologising to Kate telling her I should never have let her come into the office and hear all of what was said. She told me she was 17 and it was her right to know what was happening with her mum.
I knew that if she wasn't there I would have sorted myself out and told both the children a watered down version when I got home. The fact was she had heard and I knew it was pointless to keep it from my son as she insisted that he was told. So we told him - and scared the bloody life out of him. Andrew and I argued he walked out. I shouted at the children.
Half an hour later when we had all calmed down and Andrew asked me how I felt, numb was the words that came to mind. I didn't want to tell any one as quite frankly I couldn't be bothered. Close friends texted and asked I told them to read my blog. Family called and I told Andrew to talk to them.
Today, I am still wallowing in self pity. I have eaten Christmas pudding for my tea, and I have washed my pain killers down with red wine. I've cuddled the kids, and the cat. I've hung on to my husband - wordlessly.
I know that I will come out of this very soon - but not today. Today is for me to feel sorry for myself. Tomorrow - with a bit of luck - I'll be back to my old positive self, cracking jokes and looking forward to the future. The future that WILL involve me being Cancer free and watching my children grow up. A future where I won't be scared to live each day without worrying if its spread, If its come back or if its hiding somewhere, waiting to pop up when I least expect it.