Two weeks ago, I got some news. Bad news. The kind of bad that leaves you winded, dry-mouthed and with a little bit of vomit in your mouth. I had been informed that at the relatively young age of 29, I had breast cancer.
Oh, that word - people refer to dropping the c-bomb when they say the word c*nt, but I think that the word cancer is infinitely more shocking and provokes much more of a knee-jerk reaction. When I hear that word, all I think of is sickly-pale, bald, fragile children smiling bravely on those dreadful television ads for cancer charities, or Susan Sarandon in Stepmom or even worse, Debra Winger eking out every last tear from the audience in Terms of Endearment (that film KILLS me). I really never thought that I would hear that dirty word in the same sentence as 'My dear, I am terribly sorry to have to inform you that you have cancer'.
There are no words to explain the range of emotions that one experiences when this bomb is dropped - I went from being completely dazed, to bawling my eyes out, to becoming very calm all in the space of a minute. To be given this news at any age is the worst possible thing ever, but all I could think of was 'I'm 29 - does this mean I'm going to die? Will I get better only to get sick again? Will the chemo send me into early menopause? Will I lose my breasts?' I sat there in the doctors office while my poor husband sobbed beside me, and the forefront thought in my mind was simple. Why bloody me?
Two weeks ago, I had a lumpectomy on my right breast and had several lymph nodes removed from my arm. The surgeon told me that I had a rapidly-spreading cancer and that it had metastasized into my lymph nodes. He had removed the tumor, a sizable amount of healthy flesh that the tumor was sitting on and the affected lymph nodes. I was left with a right breast that was considerably smaller than the left, and an evil-looking scar that stretched from nipple to armpit, but I thought that was a small price to pay. And hey, look at the TOWIE girls! There was definitely a boob job in my future.
Then he dropped the next bomb - he wanted to remove both breasts.
I still haven't fully processed this - I mean, my breasts are what make me a girl! If I get rid of them, does that mean it won't come back somewhere else? No, it doesn't. If I keep them, does that mean the cancer could come back in the other breast? Yes, there is a distinct possibility this could happen. When will reconstruction happen? Will reconstruction happen?
I haven't come to a decision about this yet. My first meeting with the oncologist is tomorrow and I'll be starting chemotherapy next week, so I have plenty of things to focus on in the near future. In the meantime I'll be using this blog as a space where I can vent, cry and even hopefully have a giggle. I intend to be as honest about everything I am going through as I can be, but I will give a heads-up for the squeamish among you before I go into this fine detail!
At the moment, the only thing I am 100% sure of is that this will NOT beat me. Everything else can wait...