When this series of posts was a book (yes, there’ll be more), this was a seriously ‘cold’ intro as if you didn’t know me so I don’t need to do the whole ‘my name is…’ bit. Those of you who still don’t know me, nice one for stumbling across this page!
I almost feel as if I have to do the ‘British’ thing and apologise for the title, but no – it makes me laugh and when you can find things around this subject to laugh about, just DO. It’s a somewhat bullshit experience if you don’t.
When I was a spritely young thing of 35, I was diagnosed with cancer of the right breast. Breast cancer.
No nice way to phrase it. The fact that I’m able to share this at all gives a decent clue as to the happy ending aspect, and although an encounter with the bastard Big C is never a good thing, there was some comedy (I think) and learning moments. If sharing any of this can make someone laugh while thinking about cancer or help a friend or relative understand what their loved ones might be going through, then as far as I’m concerned, it is a win-win situation.
I get to practice writing and talking about something I know – cancer and me, and the rest of you might have a smile. Or might be annoyed. Or think it’s shit writing. All of those options are good. More selfishly, it will have reminded me, in detail of what occurred and made me belly laugh a good number of times.
Me, me, me, eh? Always.
Firstly, a sort of ‘disclaimer’ about what this story is and isn’t. I have no medical training or qualifications and know only what I was told and what I’ve researched myself at the time and following.
These posts aren’t:
- A ‘you must feel a certain way’ about having cancer or your loved one having cancer
- A ‘you must seize the day and change the world’ story about having cancer where you suddenly give up your job, have no money, but head off to the Calcutta slums to help street kids. You CAN, but that’s not what I’m selling here.
- Religious in any way. Those of you who have had the very real pleasure of meeting me or knowing me will be aware that if there is a God, he and St Peter are, at this very moment building extra security and fortifications at the front door upstairs. The dude downstairs has also declined on the basis that I would annoy the shit out of him and his wanky friends by endlessly debating why they were such tossers and not, in fact, correct about their evil ways.
- Meant to offend anyone. Maybe I should have written that bit BEFORE the point above, but hey, please feel free to contact me to chat about any offence that was taken.
These posts are:
- My story and told as I experienced it. I don’t feel that I’m looking at it through rose-tinted glasses, but there were both genuinely funny and truly horrible moments throughout the experience. I feel that I’ve benefitted from all of them even if it was only to someday put all this down in one place.
- A ‘hats off’ to everyone who was involved in my treatment and care, both NHS and Private. I never knew many of their names, but they were all there for their patients. A little help for them is needed in certain areas of bedside manner on occasion, but if they’d been too polished, I wouldn’t have had some of the stories I do now and might not be writing this.
- Hopefully, a ‘real’ account of what can occur once you’re diagnosed with breast cancer (in the UK) and could maybe go towards helping those surrounding the person with cancer understand some of the things that occur to them or that they experience. Obviously, every person is different and processes information, news and emotion in entirely subjective ways. I consider myself to be lucky that all of my news goes through a combination of filters made up of sarcasm, profanity and laughter. That isn’t the case for everyone, and I’m not attempting to make light of anyone else’s situation. Only mine.
At the time this occurred in 2008, I was living in North West London in the area called Kensal Green. I’ll pause while you either pull a face or the gasp if you know the area. It did have a bit of a rough reputation, but as I was there, it was just starting to get a little hipstery and a bit gentrified. I was sharing a flat with a fantastic guy, who was a director of some fairly good TV programmes and because of that, was away travelling a lot. It was my first time living in London, and I was enjoying it massively.
My job was pretty good (on paper), but I’m waiting for the laughter of any of my former colleagues should they be reading this. I had a Director title and was nominally responsible for starting and pushing through until nearly an end, a massive IT transformation body of work that was a total pig from start to finish.
Setting aside the job and its challenges, the takeaway has got to be the people. I made some life-long friends there (and am sure, enemies, too, but I have only middle digits for them) had some of the longest, deepest belly laughter and crazy, tear-filled days of my working life. I won’t name the company or the project. Not to protect anyone, but purely so I don’t get sidetracked by a profanity-filled rant!
At the time that this went on, everyone there, even those that I came to dislike quite a bit, professionally, at the end of my time there, was fantastic. They could not have been more kind, compassionate or helpful to me.
I think my age is relevant in that I was pretty young for this to have happened and been caught so early. My surgeon was convinced that finding it early at a ‘young’ age was what helped me out so well.
I’m telling the story in detail because I feel that some of the finer points are necessary to understand the amount of information one has to take onboard (or find out yourself) and I’ve done it in chronological order for fairly sensible reasons.
My objective is to cover each part of the journey as it unfolded with both very Kate-type details and also, my take on how this could be relevant to a broader audience.
Where I have opinions about information received or how I have been communicated with, I’m not sharing them to be negative or to throw rocks at any people or professions. As far as I am concerned, anyone who works to assist other people in matters of health is pretty much the top of the tree with me.
Hopefully, that has piqued a tiny bit of interest in what comes next, and I’ll be posting #2 shortly.
Yep. I’m giggling at ‘#2’. Pathetic.