I wake up around 6.30 in terror. I should be relieved that surgery is off the cards I didn’t want it but I didn’t want chemo either and now I’m furious as I don’t have an option and what if surgery was the best option? I lie awake waiting for the oncology office to open so I can call Carmel. I’ve had so much conflicting information in the last week my heads fried. I call the hospital , it seems that assumptions were made and relayed to me but of course I took them as fact, because I expect the absolute truth from people in their position to people with my condition. But there are no definitive answers with cancer (I do sometimes wonder if I have a slight touch of autism! which reminds me of The curios incident of the dog in the night, where the autistic narrator thinks a metaphor should be called a lie because a pig is not like a day and people do not have skeletons in there closet! Wonderful book by the way). That’s just how I roll, I take things very literally.
I eventually get up, it’s a stunning day and the garden is green and lush. I’m ashamed to say that in my distraction I barely acknowledged these children that I love dearly. Once on the train with Liz I go through my files and am surprised to read that there was not one but two tumours in the breast???I find it interesting that the ultrasound revealed the malignancy not the mammogram and wonder was I right then to refuse anymore and why not just do ultrasounds? I have a giggle when my oncologist writes ‘’Catherine is still having difficulty accepting chemo and believes that if the cancer doesn’t get her the chemo will ‘.’ Then we are here.
The hospital is housed in a beautiful Georgian townhouse with high ceilings, gorgeous foliage mouldings and chandeliers. I’m slightly freaked by the volume of women waiting, but of course they don’t all have cancer. While I’m filling out my check-in form I get to a question about previous medical and blurt out ‘’ other than the cancer, no’’. I look up suddenly aware, how easily those words fall out of my mouth now, how matter of fact, and shit I might have scared the bejasus out of someone waiting for results. Finally I’m called and with Liz in tow I’m led into the doctor’s office. I’m greeted not by the consultant but by a soft spoken foreign female doctor.She has sympathetic eyes and I make a point of telling her I am a hurt me put be constructive kind of girl, I need all the facts so I can make an informed decision, she smiles and goes next door to relay my situation to the consultant.
He is a jolly looking 50 odd year old with a moustache, he makes small talk while I undress. I fill in the finer details as he examines me, it’s a lot of information, a long story, but I feel he gets the picture. Now it’s time for our ‘little chat’. I sit with my notebook and list of questions while this kind man tells me there is significant progression of disease locally in the breast, and this is a good indication that there is probably progression elsewhere. I’m knocked for six and fight back the tears, I have to listen it’s important to listen. He says he wouldn’t recommend surgery as the tumour is very much welded to the chest wall and they would have to take a sizable chunk of the muscle which would leave a rather large hole. I have 3 options, I hand the notebook and pen to Liz while I try to hold it together. Aggressive chemo, radiotherapy or both seem to be my options, but I need to have my scan and speak with my oncologist before I can make any decisions. I ask my questions many of which seem obsolete now and try desperately to retain the answers . He is honest and straight talking without being cold or clinical for this I am deeply grateful and tell him so. We all shake hands and once outside the room I quietly fall apart in my lovely friends arms.
Outside the sun is shining and it is warm and balmy on this beautiful summers day, I want to walk, need to walk, I want to throw up, I want a cigarette, a drink, I don’t know what I want. And now I’m angry, furious and so very sad. The taxi journey is surreal, I sit sobbing behind my sunglasses as Liz holds my hand and the driver chats away happily. Outside people are getting on with their day and enjoying the weather. We go to a lounge at the station I want wine. Liz wants me to come home with her, but I don’t want to make any decisions I just can’t. I sob unashamedly sitting in the centre of the lounge, there is a strange kind of liberation when you get news like this, a could care less what anyone thinks attitude. I could see subtle looks, part of me wanted someone to ask, the mean part of me wanted someone to piss me off so I could throw it in their face. I do my usual berating myself for wasting my life, for never doing anything important, for never making a difference, for letting fear take over. We catch our two separate trains, I sob silently as the guy beside me listens to his headphones and surfs the net on his laptop. The journey seems to go on forever, Noirin greets me at the station with open arms, I’m a mess.