Thursday, 14 August 2014


A cancer diagnosis brings with it ups and downs (understatement). Yesterday I had a shit day. I had a short notice appointment to see my oncologist (for the first time). There had been some debate about whether I should actually have surgery first or chemo first. It turns out that a grade 1, her2-, small tumour like mine shouldn't really be in the lymph nodes. And normally a grade 1, her2-, small tumour would have a treatment plan of surgery first then chemo. But the dodgy lymph nodes were bothering the Breast Care Nurses and I was sent to discuss with the oncologist.

After an hour and a half in The Most Depressing Place On The Face Of The Earth (the Oncology Outpatient Waiting Area at the Leicester Royal Infirmary) I finally saw the very impressive and engaging oncologist who swept in to the room and said in no uncertain terms I was to start chemo right away - ie within the next week. She didn't know why surgery first was suggested, a supposedly non aggressive, slow growing tumour like mine that had misbehaved and made it's way to the lymph nodes already anyway needs treating with chemo immediately. There would be international expert consensus of chemo first on a case like this. Eeshk. Could I have just one more week of normality before treatment starts? No way. End of.

I went home and cried, and cried and cried. I think that's pretty much the first time since diagnosis that I've actually broken down like that. I did punch the bed in fury.... It's soooo fuuuuucking annoyyyyying to be feeling really, really, well, and know that in maybe 6 days time someone's gonna hook you up to a drip that will make you very, very ill. And bald. I suppose in some ways, despite the diagnosis, hospital appointments etc, this has not felt 100% real until now.

Anyway. I hit rock bottom yesterday, but was very promptly pulled back up by a hoard of superwomen. I'm a member of a group called the Younger Breast Cancer Network (UK). I think it should be renamed to "Fucking Amazing Kick Ass Superwomen (UK)". The online forum is an invaluable source of support, information (often of my favourite kind which is "too much information") and most importantly, lots and lots of humour. They had me playing "Spot the Wig" in The Most Depressing Place On The Face Of The Earth. I found myself laughing at the image of myself with drawn on eyebrows smeared across my forehead (makeup has never been a skill of mine), dentures falling out and toenails falling off (sexyyyyy)... I went from bawling my eyes out to crying my eyes out with laughter at these sent to me by one of my new superwoman friends who has gone ahead and ordered herself the Jessica Alba, haha! (In case you were wondering, I'm gonna go with the Jessie J with a fringe despite the fact that later on the same is listed as a Nicki Minaj...errrr... never mind, I've got cancer, I'll do what I want.)

I've already met up with several of these superwomen, and feel lucky to be getting to know such strong, funny, inspirational people. As well as a bald head and peeling feet, cancer brings with it new friends. (And that's not even mentioning the incredible friends I already have, who I will gush about plenty over the coming months). As long as my oncologist doesn't wreck any more of my plans with surprise last minute appointments, I'm off to Birmingham on Monday to meet with a superwoman who was diagnosed on the very same day as me. That's the one with the Jessica Alba! But on Monday we will shop for some serious fake hair, industrial strength makeup, and then reward ourselves with lunch and plenty of wine. I actually cannot wait. And then I'm ready for it. Blast the shit out of this fucking cancer. And I will work my way through 6 series of the Sopranos while that's going on.

I end with a quote someone shared with me that fits well: "On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%, and that's pretty good." (And getting through those bad days is so much easier when you are surrounded by superwomen.)

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