So today was the big day – Bandages off and pathology report.
My drains were taken out last Monday, which is just as well really cos i kept catching them on baby gates and my feet and god knows what else. I’m far too clumsy to have great big tubes hanging from both sides.
My best friend came with me, She is an Intensive Care Nurse and has a end of life specialization (I know optimistic aren’t i!) but I figure if anything I don’t understand she will be able to explain, and she tells it to me straight.
First things first was the bandages coming off. The surgeon was pretty pleased with the healing, and its all quite low and smooth so no worries there. I had the obligatory cry in the van on the way to the appointment so I wasn’t too upset during the appointment. It was weird to see the scars. Morbid fascination I suppose. I kept looking into the mirror but the breast nurse in there kept asking if there was an issue – which made me conscious of looking more. I thought Emma was going to say something to her about her manner at one point!
Next came the pathology report…. deep breath… well it wasn’t as great as I hoped. Now basically this appointment means you go in, they tell you what the lab found – tell you Congratulations there is no sign of cancer, and off you go on your merry way, mentally marking every day off on a 5 year calendar waiting for your remission date…except well they didnt.
The underarm tumour was 8cm at removal, the primary breast tumor was 2mm… yes.. the same size at removal as it was at diagnosis the chemo had not affected it. Both were Grade 3 Stage 3 Invasive Ductual Carcinoma. 21 Lymph nodes removed – with all 21 showing signs of cancer scarring or active cancer. There was also evidence of cancer in my lymphatic and blood stream, then came the most worrying bit. There had also been a breach on my chest wall. So basically I have had 6 cycles of chemo, lymph nodes removed along with both breasts… and the cancer was still there.. well that sucks! Not sure how I feel about this.. it might take a few days of processing.
Whilst I was trying to work out how I felt they decided that my chest area shouldn’t wibble wobble like a hot water bottle and that I needed some post op fluid draining. The nurse went off to do that whilst Emma and I did some more looking in the mirror.
Now Emma and I have found the Humour in my cancer right from the start, she was the first person I told (straight from the hospital – she got the manic panicky snotty Tracie… we had lots of tea and biscuits!) From Emma calling me a tit, then going ooh I cant do that, to likening me to Mrs Potato Head, its all helped to make everything a little more bearable. But today she outdid herself, it was an appointment that I’m sure the breast nurse will never forget and we were in tears of laughter
So we were discussing randomly about how a couple people Emma knew has since been diagnosed with cancers etc and how it had become more heard about. So I ask if she thought its because it IS more “common”, or there is better diagnostics? Emma’s response was that maybe its just more talked about now… and then came the fatal words
” Well yeah its just more heard about isnt it like lots of things that werent ever talked about before.. when you think about it”…. and at this point Emma doesnt hear the breast nurse open the door and enter the room so finishes with “cancer is just like Incest”
The nurse draws back the curtain with the biggest look of WTF on her face, and thats it Emma and I are gone… tears rolling down my face and I can barely even speak. The nurse remains stoney faced.. which of course sets us off even more.. She jabs me with a huge needle, drains 150ml of fluid and is gone
I get dressed and its time to go, head is buzzing. We get outside and I say “its not great is it” no she admits, it could be better.
Think this might take a fair bit of thinking through and accepting.