Warning! Extreme use of metaphor and simile ahead.
Having chemo is a bit like going on a hike- you just have to keep going no matter how tired you get. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes the path feels relatively easy, sometimes there is rough terrain and sometimes it is just too difficult and you want to give up. Thankfully I’ve done it now, and I don’t plan to ever hike that trail again.
I am going to have surgery soon, and that feels like a mountain. When I was having chemo it was far away, but now that it’s the next obstacle that I have to face, it is much scarier. It’s a looming barrier, right in the middle of my path. The mountain of surgery – I can’t go under it, I can’t go around it. I have to go over it.
If I had the choice, I would get off the cancer trail now. Take the boots off my aching feet and go home.
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I wrote the above a couple of weeks ago and didn’t get round to posting it. I am pleased to say that I don’t feel nearly so worried about my surgery now. I think that, with time, you can get used to pretty much anything. I’m glad that the doctors warned me that I would need a mastectomy right at the very start, when I was diagnosed. The idea, of course, it to get rid of as much breast tissue as possible so that the cancer can’t spread. Some lymph nodes (in my armpit) will also be removed for this reason. So, if the chemo hasn’t zapped all of the cancer, cutting it out should finish it off. I very much hope that it does.
I do trust God to keep me safe and it is possible that all the cancer has gone anyway- but it seems ridiculous to me to not use the amazing medical knowledge and skills of the NHS to my advantage.
My surgeon suggested that I think about having a double mastectomy. He was the first doctor to mention this to me – a cancer patient did the other week, because she had one earlier this year and is happy with the results.
The main advantage of the double is that I won’t need anymore mammograms – they remove 97% of all breast tissue so the chance of getting cancer there again is tiny. The other important thing is that it means I will have matching breasts; in size, shape and feel. Rather than one perky reconstruction and one natural that is subject to the ravages of time. I’m not an especially vain person, but this is a big plus. Also I will need extra follow-up surgeries if I have the single mastectomy.
I can’t say that I am looking forward to surgery – especially not the pain, hospital stay, and not being able to pick anything up, including my daughter, for a month. But the mountain seems much smaller now. I will hopefully be cancer-free afterwards, and so it will be worth all of the effort.
It’s nice to have a break between treatments and I am enjoying going out and doing normal things (and eating Chinese takeaway) again. But soon I will be strapping those boots on and climbing up that mountain. I’m tired and achey (and have lost a lot of fitness thanks to chemo) but am ready as I’ll ever be.