Saturday, 2 December 2017

The Big C & Me


As regular readers of this blog know, 4 years ago, I was diagnosed, via a routine screening, with ductile cancer, and underwent an operation to remove it. You can read about it HERE.
Unfortunately, it appears that me and the Big C have not finished our relationship. I now have Grade 2 breast cancer, and in 4 days' time (Wednesday 6th) will be going into the wonderful Luton & Dunstable Hospital to have some more of me chopped off.

It is quite a major op, and like most major ops, it has generated an incredible amount of paperwork (known, rather wearily, to us sufferers & survivors as Cancermin).This week alone I have received:

* A BIG booklet on primary breast care
* Results of my biopsy
* A letter explaining about my healthcheck, pre-op
* A report of my 2 meetings with my Macmillan nurse
* Letter from the Photography Dept re appointment to take pics
* A form for the Implant Registry
* Info about the above
* A questionnaire to fill in post op
* A survey to fill in about Breast cancer and 'older women' (optional)
* A report on my initial diagnosis and meeting with consultant, sent to my GP cc. to me
* Information about my Outpatient Department appt. post-op
* A treatment plan outline sent to my GOP cc. me
* Various leaflets about stuff

Worried about the operation? Heck, I don't have time. Too much reading and box-ticking to do!

Last time I was chopped, I noticed a few people backing away into the undergrowth. They have not re-appeared. So, in the interests of being helpful, here are some things to say/not say when a friend/family member or work colleague announces they have breast (or any other) cancer.

* 'Aren't you lucky you don't need chemo': yes, probably I am, but I'm not feeling lucky right now. Why not ask me about my treatment instead?

* 'Let me know if I can do anything' (I had a text that said this). Translation: Don't let me know, please. Better to say: 'Can I cook you a meal? When shall I bring it round? Can I hoover the house for you? What would be a good day?' Most treatment involves being unable to lift anything lighter than a feather for weeks, so cooking/cleaning is a bit of an no-no.

*  How are you? If you can add 'today' it helps us respond. Today, I am feeling tearful. Yesterday, I was fine.

* But PLEASE PLEASE ... at the end of the day, the worse thing that one can do is to ignore. I have been told several sad stories of women taking cakes into work, to get colleagues to speak to them. If all else fails, drop round a card. With a nice Boots/Space NK/MS voucher inside ... 'to treat yourself when you are better'.

And finally, coz I want to leave room for other far wiser people to pile in with their words of wisdom: to my fellow cancer friends: Whatever your deeply held beliefs, if someone offers to: pray, light candles, send blessings, plant a tree, or ritually sacrifice a politician, be grateful (especially the last one). It shows they care. xx



40 comments:

  1. My OH was diagnosed with bowel and liver cancer just over a year ago. We live each day as it comes. We have had genuine offers of help but when we needed a big favour it was interesting to note who was busy that day.
    I hope all goes well with your op and whatever further treatment you need and I will sacrifice a local councillor for you as well as say a little prayer.

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    1. Ha! Good person...make it a pro Brexit one, can you? #joke

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  2. Having recently done this journey with my daughter who handed me all the paperwork/booklets etc which is overwhelming, I empathize with you. I will be holding you in thought via our coffee tweets and my hand (and ears) will be available throughout.

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  3. I don’t do praying (though would willingly sacrifice a politician if I could) and am too far away to be useful. But will light a candle on Wednesday - hardly practical but know that I’m thinking of you.

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    1. 'Every little helps' ~ thanks good friend

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  4. I'm sorry, you've had a recurrence, Carol. But, if it helps, I also had grade 2 breast cancer - also had the op and the treatment. That was in 2009 and I'm all clear so far! You will be too. Please message me if you need to get anything off your chest (that's not a joke!), don't hesitate.

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  5. Oh Carol, I am so sorry. I know you want to into battle and fight the good fight, but you must also want to scream, “It’s just not fair.” I shall be thinking of you and saying a prayer or two. In the absence of an MP to rictually sacrifice I will go on tweeting against the Brexit brigade. Also thinking of your OH who must also need support. Lots of Love Liz

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    1. Thanks Liz ...daughter is doing Christmas! Just glad that, as usual, and with the usual jokes from family, I have done all the shopping!

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    2. Freudian slip in my spelling of ritual!

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  6. Carol, sending all the good vibes that I can your way.Twenty years after breast cancer I'm still here. I, too, knew the, "let me know if there's anything I can do" quote (didn't see them for dust and one, a friend, I thought, disappeared forever. Having had fifteen ops since then, hubby says I'm leaving him bit by bit. A sense of humour and f**K you cancer goes a long way. All the best. x

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    1. Thanks Judith ...I do joke that I am gradually becoming flat-chested...

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  7. Hopefully, all will go well. At stage 2, it should. The biggest problem is going through all the surgery, treatment, recuperation, and paperwork. It sounds lucky not to get chemo, but going under the knife is scary and troublesome enough. The paperwork is almost as scary and troublesome! I'm too far too offer help, even to sacrifice a small politician. Would a Spanish one do? One who likes to implement cutbacks in healthcare? Stay strong! All will be well!

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    1. actually, given the Spanish politicians seem to be being FAR nicer to Brits living in Spain than ours are to EU citizens (many of whom work in the BC unit at my hospital) I'd rather you did for one of ours. If you can spare the time...

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  8. Hugs Carol. Some people find it hard to know how to offer to help. If you need something someone can provide, ask them outright. I did this when mum died and people seemed grateful to be given something concrete to do to show their support. Xx

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    1. Yes, it does seem the best way....hopefully dome dinners on the way. OH is NOT a good cook!

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  9. Hello Carol - Sorry to read this. I too have been there - now have one artificial breast made from fat from my tummy, done in 2000 after original mastectomy in 1988, and one mastectomy with implant in 2014. Touch wood am clear now.... these days, cancer is a horrible business but thank goodness, is much less often fatal. I never like the 'fighting' terminology either. You don't have to fight - just shut yourself down and endure ......

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  10. Carol - forgot to say - both times with me it was DCIS, high-grade like you. Back in the 80s there was only one treatment option, mastectomy - I am glad I did because I had no recurrence. The second breast, like you, I was recommended to have the affected duct tissue removed and have follow-up radiotherapy. Like you, I refused radiotherapy but insisted on a mastectomy - the type where they leave the breast skin behind so you can have an implant. I would say to you that while a mastectomy seems drastic, the more they remove the less chance of recurrence. I presume you are having that this time, but if not, I would urge you to discuss with your surgeon.

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    1. Yes, this is exactly what he will do..as he's removed most of the inside already.

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  11. So sorry to hear that you're having to go through this again. I only know you through Twitter but feel like you're a distant friend as our grandchildren are similar ages and I can empathise with your stories about them. I've got fingers crossed for a good outcome x

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  12. Sorry to hear of this reoccurrence Carol and I send positive thoughts and big virtual hugs for this week and the weeks to come. I shall be thinking of you.

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  13. Thinking of you. And thinking of your OH too. It’s a journey for both of you (different journeys). Best wishes.

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  14. I am a candle-lighter, Carol. So off to light a big one!! xx

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  15. Said a prayer for you this morning and I'll continue to do it. One of my close friends has just had her latest scan and has been declared C free. We are going out for dinner to celebrate. I agree with everything you say about support and friendship.

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  16. That my dear is a fucker. Been there with the breast one so sending best thoughts and a virtual glass of prosecco xxx And no fighting talk, that makes me turn into a tasmanian devil!! Add also to your list, don't buy the person just diagnosed a set of breast cancer awareness soaps: a) they look like implants b) you're kind of already aware c) you really needed strong drink. Bless, she was trying (fill in the punchline yourself)

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  17. Carol, I wish you a speedy recovery. Too far away to do anything practical but you will be in my thoughts and I will light a candle for you too. Please let us know how it all goes. Hugs xx

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  18. Oh Carol, I'm so sorry to hear this. I've been through this with my mum and will keep you and your family in my thoughts. Wishing you all the best. Take care.

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  19. I am so sorry this has happened to you again, Carol. You were my role model when it happened to me, and you helped me a lot. If I lived near you, you would want for nothing! Because I don't, know that healing thoughts are with you...

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    1. thanks Neets...I shall survive to plague you yet...

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  20. Hi Carol just caught up with this. What a bloody bummer!! I too would willingly burn all politicians at the stake if it would help. Sending ((Hugs)) xxx

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    1. I'm sure it would help. A lot *hands matches*

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  21. Sorry to hear this Carol. What a rotten thing to happen. Sending love and hugs. xxx

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  22. So sorry to hear this, Carol. Thinking of you and wishing you well.

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  24. Hi Carol - I missed catching you before the sixth ... but sincerely hope all has gone well and will continue to do so and you'll improve as best can.

    Thankfully I'm far enough away now for politicians to do their thing - while I'll catch up soon enough on my return ... but am quite happy to light a pyre or two for some.

    I understand your wise words ... so sensible and ones we should follow when visiting anyone in hospital ... be prepared with some chat, gossip or funny thoughts and keep patients entertained ... having the housework done, or meals cooked also helpful to put it mildly ...

    With many thoughts to a reasonably easy ride through this - take care and be taken care of - Hilary

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  25. Meant to add ... I saw mention via Ros ... and have spotted you around, albeit not connected til now ...

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  26. I’m so sorry I missed this. As you may know, we’re fighting our own battle here. I hope the operation goes well and that you’re back on your feet soon. X

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  27. Only just caught up with this. I thought Twitter had been a bit quiet. Sending you my very best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

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