Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tests, tests and more tests

Thursday morning I woke up very early, or rather, I gave up attempts to sleep at about 5am. I did some housework to keep busy. The only person who I thought would also be up so early was my sister, so I went to see her. Thursday was a daze. Unlike Wednesday, today only had an appointment with the surgeon late in the afternoon, so there were many hours to fill in between. I went into work to tidy up a few things. It was all very strange, lots of hugs and tears in the office. My life had imploded in the space of a day. It felt like I was packing up my life for an unexpected holiday with no end date. People keep saying to me this is a journey, it is a journey to Shitville, and not one that I would ever have bought a ticket for. I can't remember how I spent the rest of the day, but I remember it going by very slowly.

My parents picked me up for my appointment with the surgeon. My myriad of doctor friends had assured me that I was in good hands. As I sat waiting at the Mater Private Breast Clinic, I was struck by the fact that this was getting scary. I was hoping that the doctor was going to say that there had been some mix up with the results and send me home with an apology. After being poked and prodded again, we sat down with the surgeon who had an action plan. We were told that I would need surgery to remove the tumour, the lymph nodes and have a portacath implanted for chemotherapy - followed up by radiation. The reality of the situation was sinking in. There were a few surprises in store, like when the surgeon asked me if I would like to have children. As a single girl, it wasn't something that I have actively thought about and certainly not a question I thought I would have to answer to my breast surgeon. However, as the chemotherapy would most likely make me infertile, it was best to get my eggs harvested before they were destroyed by the six months of intravenous domestos. A round of IVF - just something to squeeze in between the tumour surgery and chemotherapy starting - lucky I had no other plans that week. December was not going to be the festive season I had planned.

The next question which was raised was whether a lumpectomy or a masectomy would be required. The surgeon, very politely, looked at my left breast and then my right breast, then advised that a masectomy would not be required as there was no higher cure rate - besides that would make me very lopsided! I felt better that there was a plan, now we had to launch into action. The next day saw me being scanned from head to toe to see if there were any more tumours lurking about. I was thinking about many things whilst lying on the cold bed being scanned. The first thing I thought was that I felt fine, so I thought I would be all clear. Then I thought that I didn't feel the tumour in my breast or any of the enlarged lymph nodes - so who knows what was cooking inside. I was also thinking that lying on a bed and not being able to move for 45 minutes was very boring and they should provide some sort of entertainment. I kept thinking back to every ache and pain that I had had in the past few months thinking it was brain, stomach, bowel, intestine or esophagus cancer. It was a relief when all the scans were clear. The next hurdle was to check if there was anything sinister in my blood - apart from left over espresso martinis from the weekend before!

The next day was Saturday, which found me having blood tests for everything. The week had finally come to an end. It was emotionally exhausting and devastating, so what better way to end the week than having a lunch for 40 people! We wanted Sunday to be a pre-operation/early birthday party. It was also good to give mum a task to focus on. During the week there had been a flood of phone calls and supportive cards, flowers and presents. It was hard to tell my friends what was happening. I had told close friends, but it was hard to make 50 phone calls and tell people, so I text and left cryptic messages on facebook. It was hard to vocalise something that I couldn't get my head around. Sunday lunch came and it was great to be surrounded by family and friends. I was surprised that there were no tears. It was truly a happy way to end a crappy week. The way I looked at it was like this - it was a crappy diagnosis with a good prognosis - and that was what I was determined to focus on.

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