So this is it, I’ve decided to tell you about my blip along life’s road and why I consider it to be, in lots of ways, a blessing. Although some of you, if not all, will probably think I’m nuts for thinking this way about a cancer diagnosis, I’m hoping you’ll begin to understand why I feel like this over the next few blogs. It has, after all, brought me closer to my family, led me to build ‘Waysgoneby’ which has now been rebranded 'PUREMESS' and experience lots of new friendships!
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2013, a week after my 44th birthday. It was a funny thing, cos I really wasn’t surprised. My doctor and I were convinced it was just a cyst in my left breast but a mammogram was planned anyway. In the mean time I had a dream, yes, I know, but bear with me! In this dream I was shampooing dogs all lined up in a row and the person who was with me (I’ve no idea who it was) said they would shampoo my hair. They then told me I had a lump behind my right ear, and I argued (very unlike me) that it was behind my left, but they were adamant it was behind my right. That’s it and then I woke up.
So a week later it really wasn’t that much of a surprise to be told I had a mass in my right breast and nothing at all in my left. My friend Lu, who had come with me, called my husband with the news and I was sent home with a book on how to tell my children their mum had cancer…….
My husband, James, and I sat our two younger ones on the sofa and basically just said mum has breast cancer, we don’t know much else at the minute but the doctors are going to do everything they can to make it go away. My youngest, who was only eight then, climbed onto James’ lap and cried. My middle one, who is autistic, said, “Don’t worry mum, I’m going to Google your chances of dying”. What would we do without Google heh!! My eldest, who was twenty, came home later that night whilst I was upstairs getting ready for bed. James told him and I came into the kitchen to find them both crying. I gave him a hug and promised him that I would do everything I could to stay alive, whatever it took. And that was it! It was much more heart-breaking to even vaguely consider leaving my kids without a mum than to think about what I was going to have to go through.
I didn’t have another appointment for a week and during that time James and I have never held hands more!! We did talk about it but tried not to let it be the only subject. I cried at night when everyone was sleeping, scared, vulnerable, but absolutely determined that this was not going to define me. I told a couple of friends and was treated to sooooo many apricots (apparently they’re really good for you!), and flowers. Flowers are a funny thing. I loved that people were thinking about me and wanted me to know they were thinking about me, but in the end I felt like I was living in a funeral parlour. At times I stood there, clutching another bunch of lilies thinking this is what my house is going to look like if I die! I don’t think gifts of wine would have made me feel like that .
My work colleagues, big shout out to all the gorgeous girls at Lee Taman, were amazing, very supportive and we found some time to laugh. I had just grown my hair long after years of wearing it short, and we laughed that I was now going to have to shave it off!
Oh, and I baked an awful lot of cakes……..