Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The day my life imploded

I slept fitfully that Tuesday night. My thoughts were consumed with questions, not about my lump, but by Twilight. Things such as - why did girls go crazy for skinny pale Rob Pattison, why the werewolves were always conveniently half naked and why did people think that Bella can act? I also had a few random thoughts about the fibroid adenoma and how I had hoped it wouldn't grow to a size where it got annoying and had to be removed. I had joked with my friend the night before how my friend, who is a breast surgeon, could cut it open and pop it out before the rugby one night over pizza. It hadn't even entered my head that it was anything more sinister.

I was woken up early Wednesday morning by a phone call from my mother. I was hoping she had good news, but all she said was that her and my father were in the foyer of my building and I should come down and get them. I knew straight away it was something serious. In the few minutes it took me to get dressed and travel the 38 levels to the ground floor, I didn't think about how my life was about to change forever. As soon as the lift doors opened and my parents turned around, my stomach dropped. I have never seen my parents look so grey and ashen. The only colour mum had in her face was her red eyes, where she obviously had been crying. Dad entered the lift and I remember asking what was wrong, as he had his serious face on. He said it was serious, but that we should wait until we were back in the apartment to talk about it. That seemed like an eternity away, so I asked again what was wrong. It was at that point that my father had to tell me that I had a malignant breast tumour. It was also at that point that I cursed myself for not going to another doctor, so that my father didn't have to deliver that news to his own daughter. I remember entering the apartment and collapsing on the couch in tears, shortly followed by my parents. I was 34, living in town by myself and loving life. I had no family history of breast cancer, never had a baby and never breast fed. Things like this were not supposed to happen to people like me.

Dad quickly launched into doctor mode and began arrangements to get me into the Wesley Breast Clinic that day. In talking to mum I found out that dad had received my results the night before, and went home and told mum. They had consulted with my siblings as to the best way to tell me the horrid news. Dad has already arranged an appointment with the go-to breast surgeon in Brisbane before I even knew the results. I was allowed to sleep well on the Tuesday night, far better than any of the other members of my family. I vaguely remember calling my boss to tell her that I wouldn't be in that day, but I couldn't really speak, I was more of a blubbering mess, but she got the message that something bad had happened and I wouldn't be at work that day. I rang a few close friends and my cousin to tell them the results. After telling three people, I was drained and couldn't call any more friends. I took the easy way out and sent a text to a few more friends. My friend Sam immediately came over with flowers, and I will never forget the look on her face when I saw her for the first time since telling her I had breast cancer. My cousin also came over, but it took her a little longer to get there as she has a propensity to wear very high heels!

My parents, my cousin and I went to the Wesley Breast Clinic. During the six hours I was there, I was poked, prodded and probed. My first procedure was a mammogram and that was quite a rude introduction! I believe that if they checked for testicular cancer the same way they check for breast cancer, someone would have invented another mode of detection which didn't involve your breasts doing an impersonation of a flesh pancake with a nipple topping. I know why the lady performing the scan stands behind a big plastic screen, it has nothing to do with the radiation, it is so she is not hit in the eye when your nipples pops off after being squeezed to an inch of its life! My next humiliation was an ultrasound, where the rather chatty lady asked me whether I was going to wear a scarf or a wig when I go bald. Since I only had about two hours to digest the diagnosis, I hadn't put any thought into hair related topics. In her further chattiness she advised that my lymph nodes were enlarged on that side which wasn't a good sign. The next step was to have lump and lymph nodes biopsied. I was not enthused about having more needles stuck into me, but I thought it would be nothing compared to the upcoming boob surgery trauma. The biopsy confirmed it had spread to the lymph nodes, which was less than ideal. My thoughts of having a simple operation to remove the lump where soon blown out of the water. It would involve an operation, chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

After spending the day with people, I just wanted to be alone that night to absorb everything that had happened. I was kindly visited by my brother and a friend of mine who bought me a care package of treats. It was good not to be alone, but as I went to bed alone a million thoughts ran through my head and attempts to sleep were fruitless.

1 comment:

  1. Karen, loving your blogs. They are truly amazing and inspirational.

    Please keep them up....