Part 2. A Wednesday I’ll never forget.
On Jan 31st mum and I arrived at the Park Centre for my 10.15 appointment. We sat in the busy waiting room no-one wants to be in calmly hoping. I had put people on standby for a champagne lunch to celebrate the end of a vile 2 weeks. When Debbie called my name and we entered the room with her and saw the consultant and another nurse we both knew there’d be no lunch.
I was told I have triple negative breast cancer. I was told many things, twice. For what seemed like quite a few sentences I concentrated on the consultant’s words. Then she asked how old my kids are when I responded that I of course want gene tests for them as well as me. That was the clincher. That was the moment that broke me and I sobbed the word fuck several times, head in my hands, knowing I had to tell my two happy, beautiful, care free girls I have breast cancer. I think the clinical staff got emotional at the point too.
In the second room, where Debbie took us through everything again mum and I had a few moments alone, I now think while they wiped their own eyes. My grieving process started in that room. The urge to punch a wall/chair/less so a person was huge. I think the entire grieving process started right there and then, and took hold of me with great force.
We went back to mum’s and told dad. Shell shock is the apt cliché – that thing people band around when humans feel sick, dumbfounded, frightened, confused, angry, and a host of other emotions. We made the calls we needed to make to the people who needed to know there and then. One by one people arrived – those that could. My ex (the father of my kids), my oldest friend, my brothers and sister-in-laws with my beautiful baby niece in tow and my uncle. We talked and hugged and at moments some of us – mainly me and mum – sobbed.
What came next makes me immensely proud and grateful. We opened dad’s wine and we drank and we began talking about what’s to come. Frank and scary discussions about treatment and the fast formulation of the view that this is a giant, hard endurance task to undertake with an end to aim for and an army to assist me.
Within those conversations we decided that mass head shaving was out because some of us will just look hideous and can’t carry it off. So the whole family decided on old school turbans, 50s glamour style, even the boys. Then we talked wigs. Then crowd funding, not for me but for our parents so they can take a holiday (they have shit loads of holidays)! Or for my brother who’s had a cough. All this sounds mildly amusing when written but that day involved hysteria and sometimes inappropriately funny responses to what was for everyone devastating news.
The title of this blog is thanks to my brother Ollie who aptly named my tumors Sir Lumpalot and Sir Lymphalot, aka The Gruesome Twosome.
Then we took a cancer selfie, the pic you see here. As you do when your sister-in-law accidentally leaves her phone behind and you want to give her a little ‘fun’ surprise.
The next 24 hours were hideous, but that afternoon and the subsequent calls and texts from those who couldn’t be there showed me how much I’m loved and how much of an army I have right beside me for what will be my biggest battle to date.
Next up, a week with cancer.