Me and a small c

In May I received the news that I had breast cancer – thankfully small and probably contained. The word ‘probably’, has shifted in meaning with every test and consultation. When the odds overwhelmingly suggest you won’t have cancer, but the tests show that you do, ‘probably’ is no longer a comfort and you lose your trust in it. The shock and worry has completely floored me.

Waiting for the tests and the initial findings of those tests was excruciating. There are so many possible outcomes and I drove myself mad trying not to think about them. During that time, my mind wandered to funeral planning. I chose music, a venue and imagined the cheery speech I would record. I don’t know what I was thinking. I wouldn’t want to put my loved ones through such a spectacle. I know now that it’s not uncommon for the mind to untether itself and explore dark corners, when it is forced to confront mortality.

The small c was found as the result of a routine mammogram. Two months after that mammogram, the cancer was surgically removed and a week later I was told it had indeed been slow and contained and that I wouldn’t require any more treatment. The relief was sudden and tear sodden, but has since gone to ground. The surgery has knocked me for six and the psychological impact has been strange.

The care I’ve received from the NHS has been outstanding – timely, kind and respectful. There have been opportunities to talk through risk factors and lifestyle. Other than age, which I can’t do anything about, I don’t tick any of the risk boxes. It seems the cancer was down to chance. I was advised to carry on doing what I’m doing in terms of diet and exercise Them’s the breaks, as someone who knows a thing or to about carrying on, recently said.

It’s a relief to ease back into work and think about something other than appointments, tests and results. In the heat of the late afternoons, I can’t help but sink into a thick sleep, populated with bizarre dreams. The mini-existential crises that have been shaking me back to consciousness over the past few months are becoming duller and losing their sting. I remind myself that I’m all right and that ‘probably’ came out in my favour. If I hadn’t had that mammogram when I did, I could have been facing a different set of ‘probablys’.

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