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When You Are Told - "You Have Cancer"...

Updated on October 11, 2012

The Wait Is Finally Over...

I received a letter outlining my appointment the following Monday. It said my appointment was that Friday, at 11.15. Great, I thought, it clashes with the kids playgroup party. My other half would have to take the time off work to look after them, as I did not want to collect the results with them running around causing chaos as they usually do.

He managed to book the whole day off work. The day finally came around; my Dad had popped in the night before and had told me that they can do wonders these days...why indeed, he had watched a TV program only the night before where this woman had got fat from her leg removed and transplanted into her breast area. She had huge breasts and the fact that she had lost one to cancer was affecting her balance and everything.

"I'm sure it won't come to that Dad!" I said, actually believing it. At the back of mind, I did think something was up, but truely thought the worse case scenario would be a lumpectomy. I had a book that I received from a charity event in a goodie bag (from the era when I had a good job - before children!) which was called "Cancer Vixen" by Marisa Acocello Marchetto. I knew where it was on my bookshelf, but was resisting the urge to pick it up and look at it as I did not want to jinx things.

I made my Dad a cup of tea and was generally ok at the thought of this poor woman with one boob. Things like that happen to other people and you do not really apply yourself to this situation.

The next morning, we got ready to go to the playgroup Christmas party with the kids. The plan was that we would both go, I would stay until 10.45, shoot off, get my results and my other half could meet me at the clinic later. Then, hopefully, we would go out for a celebratory lunch, and even get a bottle of champagne to mark the end of this dreadful time.

However, the day started badly...my car which has been suffering from a sporadic flat battery syndrome, decided not to start up, so it turned out I had to get the bus to the hospital. The journey was very eventful with people that I had no idea how they ever existed in this world, let alone be breeding, entertaining me on the way. I was slightly nervous, but happy and determined that this would soon be over, one way or another.

I got there at 11.17 and went to the waiting room, all happy and smiley. Same waiting room; same TV; same magazines; different people. There were two old couples there, one young couple, a boy asleep in the corner and another young, Australian man. I sat and waited, and waited, and every one of those people went out, came back, went out again and then finally left. It was just me again. Fresh people started to come in. I checked twice with the receptionist to ensure that I had been booked in, she said it was so. So I waited, and waited. One hour had gone by. Then an hour and a half. I kept taking out my phone and starting to text my partner saying I am still waiting, but then would put it away. I did not want to text him until I had the results. When it got to an hour and forty minutes and I still had not been seen, I text him...

"Still waiting..."

And then typically, they called my name.

As we walked to the consultants office, the nice lady who called me, with an Irish accent, said:

"Ooch, I thought you had loads of people with you? Weren't there lots of people with you earlier?"

"No." I replied, slightly confused. Who did she think was with me?

"So you're on your own then?" she said as she opened the door.

"Yeeessss...?" I replied.

"She's on her own," she told the consultant sitting at the desk as we walked in.

"Oh, you've not got someone with you then?" he asked.

As I turned away from them, putting my coat on the chair, I knew it was bad news. They did not want me to be here alone.

The Verdict...

As I sat down he said, "I'm sorry - I wish I had good news for you, but I'm afraid I do not."

Just get on with it, I thought, it's blatantly obvious it is bad news, so just tell me, I thought.

I looked at the consultant, and his face just seemed to scream out at me BAD NEWS - BAD NEWS! He's the bad news doctor, I thought.

"I'm afraid to tell you that the lumps we've examined contain cancer," he said, then stopped and looked at me.

The lady who brought me in was looking at me as well; she was sitting on a desk behind the doctor and then I noticed another lady standing behind her too. She was looking at me as well.

"OK," I said cautiously, and looked back at the consultant.

He pointed at an mammogram x-ray shot on the light board to my right, and explained where the two lumps were.

"We believe the best course of action for you is to have a mastectomy as the two lumps are some distance apart," he said, then stopped again and stared at me.

The two women at the back of the room looked up from their papers and were watching me again, like crows on a fence.

"OK," I said again, taking this information in. Keep calm; keep it together, I was thinking inside. Get a grip. Keep breathing. I wish they would stop staring at me, I thought. I really felt like my reactions were being analysed by them all and I really did not like this. What were they expecting me to do? Break down and howl? Climb the walls? Or just faint, perhaps?

"Can you tell which type of cancer it is, like, is it an agressive type?" I asked. A sensible response I believed.

He reached forwards and pawed at a piece of paper. He said the results only told him that it was cancer and that he would only be able to tell me more when they could look at the lumps in a lab and analyse them.

He pointed to a diagram of a woman's chest with several blue dots on it and dotted lines connecting them all.

"These are lymph nodes," he explained. I nodded, I knew this, I had been doing my research, thank you very much sir, top marks to me, I thought.

"We will need to do a sentinal node biopsy," he said. At this point, I admit, I did panic. I could not go through the biopsy experience again, not today. I was strong, but not that strong.

"Not today though?" I asked quickly.

"Oh no, nothing more will be happening to you today," he said laughingly. Phew! He explained that they needed to test the first lymph node, the "sentinel" one, like a look out one, I guess, which is the one the lymph fluid flows to first to see whether this contained cancer. "We'll inject you with a radioactive material which allows us to track its position as they are hard to find on an ultrasound with a hand held device, and locate the first lymph node and then we can remove and examine it. This will be done the same time as surgery."

To me, this was an extreme relief. At least I would be out of it when this happened. Being conscious and having biopsy and hearing that CLICK was truly the worst thing that had happened to me in my life...so far.

Then he launched on and on and about how I could have a reconstruction done at the same time as the mastectomy to replace my breast. I shook my head in disbelief. He just told me I had cancer, what on earth would I be worrying about cosmetic surgery for? I stopped him and told him strongly that was not an issue for me, just treating the cancer was the priority.

The lady who showed me into the room was nodding vigourously and then scribbling in her notebook. I felt some comfort that this was the sensible approach, as she agreed. Perhaps for some reason some women were devasted by the thought of losing their breasts but to me, the thought of having cancer far, far outweighed this concern. Surely it complicates surgery having this done?

"You can have some tissues removed from your rear and implanted in, or we can remove a section of muscle from your back at the same time of surgery to do a reconstruction. You can have it done now, or up to a year later," he continued nevertheless.

What was WRONG with this man? Why was he going on about that still? I wanted to know about the cancer.

"OK," I said more to shut him up.

He told me that he would request a CT scan for me, purely routine, he assured, to check the cancer had not spread to my lungs or other organs.

And then he passed me over "Linda", my cancer care nurse.

That was it from Mr Bad News Doctor.

Linda ushered me out and we went to the little room again for another chat.

"Is someone coming for you?" she said. I said I would call my partner and she said she would like to chat with him too.

I was staying strong and not breaking down. I was very sensible and just thought of all the "good things" about the situation and would not allow self pity...not just yet. It did come, but for now I had to be strong. It is just my way.

And in a way, as I had already gone down the road of having thought I might have cancer, it made it easier for me. It was not such a shock.

Think Of The Positives

  • At least I have found it now and not collapsed somewhere and then discovered this is the reason why
  • I have my children already so I do not have to worry about my future fertility
  • I really know my other half does really love me
  • I feel ok and do not feel ill - at the moment - so have time to enjoy Christmas
  • I am not the first, nor the last to have this illness
  • I have lots of good people around me being positive for me
  • At least it is me and not my children that are ill - I can take it - they cannot
  • I gave up my well paid job to stay at home to care for my children - a decision that I now definitely do not regret as I got to spend time with them instead of working
  • I appreciate the things that I took for granted more in my life now - I was always a rather negative person, but now I am forcing myself to look on the bright side of things and change to become a positive person


The Negatives...

  • I keep worrying the biopsy has spread the maligant cells around my body (my knee hurts and my lung too when I draw a deep breath on my left side)
  • I do not want my children to suffer during this time - it is their childhood and I do not want to ruin it with memories of me being ill
  • I feel like the doctors are not telling me everything and this worries the hell out of me...like they know something and think I cannot cope with all the knowledge
  • The fact there are two lumps are worrying...like it has spread already
  • One lump is quite close to the wall of my chest making me worry it is growing from my ribs rather than my breast

© 2011 Earthy Mother

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    • Tams R profile image

      Tams R 5 years ago from Missouri

      You have a really great attitude. I have sat in this position twice in my life. One turned out to be benign even after the doctor told me they were sure it was the big C. The first time I was not so lucky. I got told my a doctor who barely spoke English and had to ask him twice before I understood the word cancer.

      Believe it or not the second time when it was benign was scarier for me. Mostly because I already knew it was a large fast growing tumor on my ovary. It only made sense since the first round had been cervical cancer.

      No matter what these doctors can make you crazy with the way they deliver information. The last doctor literally turned with her mouth gaped open and said, "You're just so young."

      I thought wow! I'm definitely dying this time. I held it together until about an hour after I left the office and had returned to work with the full intent to work out the rest of my day. Didn't happen! I lost it and they sent me home.

      I wish you all the best! I am sure this will be useful to anyone going through a cancer diagnosis.

    • Earthy Mother profile image
      Author

      Earthy Mother 5 years ago from South East England

      I had a nurse say the same thing to me (the "you're are so young" thing) - it is more upsetting when people are nice to you as it makes you cry! It's such a horrible thing to go through...I can totally imagine it would completely break you to go through it again...I'm so pleased you are ok now though and living to tell the tale! xx

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Receive a message that it is cancer must be a chaotic event when all sorts of thoughts flows through the mind and I can imagine that the healthcare personal are accustomed to all kinds of reactions! It is also an event that so many people fear these days! You did a great job telling about this terrifying moment and I am so impressed by the way you could hold it together. But maybe that is our defense to something unthinkable! I wish you all the best and I will be thinking about you!

      Tina

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow! I applaud you for sharing this experience. I was smiling only because your reaction of saying "okay" is just about my reaction every time I receive news I don't want to hear, like my brain has completely shut down and that's the only word that comes out.

      I obviously need to read the rest of these to find out more about your journey.

      Thank you for your honesty and I can only hope that your words help someone who is just going through this.

      bill

    • Earthy Mother profile image
      Author

      Earthy Mother 5 years ago from South East England

      Tina - thank you so much for your kind words...it is something that I thought would never happen to me! But it did! And if I can get through it, so can others too...thank you again for reading and commenting...it means a lot! xx

    • Earthy Mother profile image
      Author

      Earthy Mother 5 years ago from South East England

      Billy - I hope it helps others who are going through this too...I did endless internet searches during this time and probably still will continue to do so as I progress along this path - and I just wanted to put something out there for others to read and not feel that they are alone...thank you for reading my account and I truly appreciate your comments! Thank you! :o) xx

    • Jennifer Stone profile image

      Jennifer Stone 5 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      Wow, thank you for sharing this. You are a brilliant writer, I was gripped until the end, and an incredibly strong lady! I think this will help anyone going through the same thing, and I truly wish all the best in what you are going through. Voted up and awesome xx

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Greetings Earthy Mother,

      It just happened that I have written my last couple of entries/posts on healing and such. I breifly did mention cancer as well.

      To begin with, I do not interact with doctors. I have no need for them as I heal myself and have done so for close to a decade now. "The truth is rarely pure and never simple" Oscar Wilde

      As I understand it, cancer is a result of a trauma. Healing cannot take place (the way my healing takes place) as long as we hold a great amount of negativity within ourselves. The cells which have turned cancerous have been traumatized, You have been traumatized.

      Trauma can be overcome though. Many of us have traumatic experiences, for one reason or another but we go on; we overcome and most important thing of all in overcoming, is that we learn and we become stronger.

      In healing your trauma and thus your cancererous cells, You need to understand yourself, your body, what is happening and why it is happening.

      In my opinion, one does not want to attack cancer, like through chemotherapy and such. That is a terrible way of dealing with the situation in my opinion. There is no therapy in killing and that is what chemotherapy does - it tries to kill. Thus, it enforces the belief of the cancerous cells, that they are under attack and under threat. In such a situation, cancer will try to hasten its speed in spreading around. It basically races to take over the other cells because the cancerous cells have ben seeing themselves as threatened due to that initial trauma expereience.

      You can heal through love and understanding and with personal power. I will try to write something on personal power soon. Evrything we do depends on it.

      I wish You a hasten recovery. May Wakan Tanka guide your path. All the very best! (Believe in yourself!)

    • Earthy Mother profile image
      Author

      Earthy Mother 5 years ago from South East England

      Thank you for this comment...I do believe sometimes that perhaps this cancer has manifested itself due to some kind of resentment in my life and that perhaps I have may caused it - but I do not have the courage to refuse medical treatment in case I am being foolish. It is very hard to know how to jump. It does seem to strange to me that cancer is on the increase. There have been lots of times during this path with the medical industry that I have thought many things as to why not to go ahead with chemotherapy and the treatment; perhaps people have cancer a lot of the time and your body heals itself and you never know about it? I caught mine quite early, but it was deemed an agressive type and action was needed urgently. I am quite young still (35) so hopefully I can overcome the harmful nature of the chemo and heal and live my life in a better way going forward...thank you for taking the time to write this and I look forward to reading your future hubs on this. You take care too xx

    • Earthy Mother profile image
      Author

      Earthy Mother 5 years ago from South East England

      Jennifer - thank you also for reading - it means a great deal to me to hear your feedback and I appreciate your comments! Have a lovely day xx

    • profile image

      White Wolf 5 years ago

      It is very hard to know how to jump. - I would rather say that You arefinduing it difficult to chose which way to jump. Perhaps if You can think of what You will and not what your reason dictates You ...

      Reason often gets in the way of our will and our will is what we really should be paying attention to, in my opinion.

      I will write something soon (on will and personal power)which I wish will help. All the very best to You and your family. May Wakan Tanka walk with You.

    • Earthy Mother profile image
      Author

      Earthy Mother 5 years ago from South East England

      Thank you for your thoughts and I look forward to reading your Hub on personal power soon! All the best and thank you for taking the time to comment xx

    • profile image

      carolh 4 years ago

      Didn't realise you had this hub, perhaps you should write a book of your experiences, I know at the McMillan centre it is mainly older people I think younger women could really connect with you experiences which they probably find hard to talk about with their contemporaries. I remember that feeling sitting being told, you do the research before hand and feel in control but when you are being told you just want to wake up and its all a bad dream then you suddenly crash and realise it isn't. I wouldn't listen anymore as I couldn't make decisions or take anything in I took a day off work with my partner to get my head round it first.

    • Earthy Mother profile image
      Author

      Earthy Mother 4 years ago from South East England

      To be honest, I didn't really feel like writing while undergoing the radiotherapy, but I really felt the urge to do it re. the hair and chemo. I'm currently undergoing the process to start having reconstruction and am um-ing and ah-ing over it as not sure, so perhaps I'll get writing again soon! Thanks for your support and for reading my writing. Apparently, breast cancer is on the increase among younger people so perhaps who knows, I may write a book! ;o) xx

    • profile image

      carolh 4 years ago

      HI earthy mother, I'm just about to start five weeks of radiotherapy great cancer the gift that just keeps giving! I had a reconstruction using pigs skin this was so they didn't use the muscle under the arm someone at work had recently had it done there were quite large scars and I was worried about restricted movement. I will need more work on my breast after radiotherapy 50% chance it could be damaged by radio. I do look sadly at my lovely underwire lace bras but perhaps I will be able to wear them again. Good luck with your decisions . Carolx

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