Sunday, 31 January 2010

Climb every mountain

Right, we are going to go down here. Walk across the field. Then we are going to climb up over there”, I said in a rather bossy manner. Our eyes gazed over at the enormous hill in the distance, with a steep diagonal path carved out of its side. “But don’t expect me to converse at the same time”, I laughed.

I was talking to my friend Peaches. Now ... to say that she and I chatter is an understatement. We wouldn’t talk the hind leg off a donkey ... we would decapitate it. On Thursday she arrived at my house at half ten ... we managed to scrape ourselves off my squidgy sofa by about half twelve. What did we talk about? Absolutely no idea.

We were going to go for a walk up on the moors but it was a grey old day so I suggested that we go down to the coast instead. Once I found out that she had never been to Bantham then my mind was made up ... and we jumped in the car and headed south.

We popped into The Sloop, as is customary when I go down to Bantham with friends. We arrived just after one and for a weekday lunchtime it was very busy, which gave the place a nice atmosphere. We decided to have mushroom (super food!) soup served with some chunky bread ... and kept talking. At about half two I looked up and realised the pub was totally empty and suggested that we had better make a move ... after all this was our fourth attempt at going for a walk ... and this was the day that I felt we should fulfil our intentions ... rather than natter all afternoon ... drinking endless pots of tea ... nice as it is. I wanted to get some fresh air and exercise ...

We walked down the track adjacent to the pub and crossed the field. Things started off well ... until we hit the swampy corner ... which we needed to contend to reach the bottom of the hill. Now this might surprise you ... but I do actually own a pair of walking boots ... OK so they are red ... but I can assure you that I don’t mind getting them dirty. Which was just as well as the mud was thick and gloopy and we ended up getting stuck ... laughing hysterically more like four year olds, whose mum had momentarily turned her back, rather than 40 year olds who really should have known better.

We eventually reached the base of the steep incline and started climbing at a steady pace. We only made it about of a third of the way up and I had to admit to Peaches that I needed to stop. I had flippantly said that I wouldn’t be able to talk whilst walking up the hill but in fact I was joking. Normally I can walk and talk up there ... though perhaps a bit puffy. My infamous 'cocktail parties' may have come to an end ... but up until that point I really hadn’t taken on board the warnings that the effects of Killer Chemo could last for up to nine months. Yeah ... you heard right ... I went to see the lovely Dr Oh-so-luv-ver-ley on Wednesday and he said no more chemo.

The afternoon didn’t start off so well. Just before leaving to go to the hospital I went in to the garden to put some flowers into the recycling bin. As I turned around I saw a flash of black and white ... and there on my lawn was a magpie. Typical ... where is his partner ... one for sorrow ... two for joy ... but there was no wifey in sight. I dismissed it ... until it happened again ... on the way to the hospital ... a second single magpie flew in front of the car. Once more I saluted my feathered friend and wished him a good afternoon ... and tried to shrug off any thought of a jinx ... Until I got to the entrance of the hospital and a third, single magpie flew across my path. By this time I was really fed up. Instead of wishing him a good day I said something rather naughty which began with an ‘f’ and ended in an ‘f’ and instead of tapping my cap I gave him a two finger salute. I wasn’t in the mood for three dollops of bad luck.

As it turned out the afternoon went swimmingly. The waiting room was surprising empty and I was called to see Dr O punctually. He walked in to the consulting room and smiled and said: “Last chemo then.” I looked at him quizzically. “Do you mean that I have had my last chemo, or that I will be having my last chemo tomorrow?” He shook his head and said: “No, that’s it. I am cancelling the chemo tomorrow.” He went on to explain that he was now going to refer me back to my breast surgeon, Dr Jordan, who would arrange an ultrasound so as to determine what kind of surgery will be necessary.

I know you want a lumpectomy, and that is of course what we will aim for if we can”, said Dr O. “But if that isn’t possible then we will be looking at a mastectomy.” I nodded and replied “Mmm ... I think that is where me and Dr Jordan might have words ...”  It was Dr O’s turn to look inquisitive. I went on to explain “Well, if I have a mastectomy then I want immediate reconstruction but I know that there are clinical reasons for not going for this option. But psychologically I couldn’t handle only having one breast ... you see I am rather big busted ... it would be a significant issue for me ...”  I looked up at Dr O and he was nodding ... I tailed off .... I realised I was trying to convince somebody who knew full well that I am rather well endowed ... after all he has firsthand experience ...

Actually,” he interrupted, “it is us oncologists who tend to be against immediate reconstruction. But ... Dr Jordan makes a very good case for doing it ... and if he recommends that for you, then I will support it, as long as you are aware of the consequences of taking that option.” I smiled at him appreciatively ... and thought how lucky I have been to have such a luv-ver-ley oncologist.

As I walked out of the hospital and into the car park I cried. Not hysterically, just little tears of relief. The pressure and the worry of another round of chemo had been swept away. I could now recuperate. My white blood count will now have chance to come back up so I will no longer be at risk of infection. No more steroids my bloaty moon face can deflate. My hair, brows and lashes will return. I will start to look normal again. There are three stages to my care pathway trek ... chemo, surgery, radiotherapy ... I had finally completed the first and most arduous part. One gargantuan mountain down ... two to go ... Dr O had been so upbeat with my progress that his positivity had rubbed off ... as I got into the car I felt optimistic and buoyant.

Peaches and I eventually made it to the top of the hill ... slowly and steadily ... and as is often the case with challenges that face us and which we overcome ... the reward made it well worth it. “Wow, look at that view!” she gasped. I nodded, glad that she appreciated it as much as me. I have stood and looked at that beautiful seascape 100s of times and it has never failed to impress me. Making me stop and stand back and acknowledge that I am so lucky to live where I live.

Or should that be I am so lucky to live ...

Alive to take on my next challenge ...

Twin Peaks ...

Sunday, 24 January 2010

One man’s ....

OK ... I am a bit late with my blog ... and you may be thinking that I have gone away for a few days ... I wish. In fact it is the opposite, since Christmas, which I can’t believe is already a month ago, I have been in self imposed exile. I can count the number of days I have left the house on one hand – and on two of those occasions it was to see a GP and another was to go to the hospital for what was hopefully my last Killer Chemo.

I want to go away. I love holidays and travelling. I am still really miffed that the discovery of the Yukky Lump meant that I had to cancel my trip down to the south of France, way back in August. So where do I want to go? Well ... anywhere really. You could blind fold me, whizz me round and ask me to put a pin into a globe and I would pack my bags accordingly ... except one place ...

I have these friends. Almost-life-long friends. And I guess that we are almost-life-long friends as we have quite a lot in common. We have comparable backgrounds, share similar interests, values and beliefs. We can sit for hours ... putting the world to rights over a leisurely meal, washed down with wine ... here or in France ... yes, they are one of the couples from the Pigeon Poo story. But despite all this ... there is one thing that we just don’t agree on ...

Many years ago, before kids, my almost-life-long-friends use to go to Disneyland. They went three or four times and loved it. And, over the last decade, have talked about returning, once their children were old enough ... and have tried to persuade me and my family to go along too. Now, I joked in my very first blog that I don’t like roller coasters ... and it is true. Literally. I have never been to a theme park in this country. I have not been to Alton Towers ... or Thorpe Park ... it is just not me.   So I ain't the least bit inclined to get on a plane and fly thousands of miles half way around the world to visit one.  Lots of people, not just my almost-life-long friends, have said I should give Disney a go. Some have said that they didn’t think they would like it ... but the Disney magic is just irresistible ... that it would win me over if I gave it a chance.  But I am digging my little red heels in ... and accepting that me and my almost-life-long friends are similar ... but not the same. And ... in a few months time they will be off on their much talked about and longed for holiday ... with some friends ... but it ain’t me. I obviously hope that they have really lovely and enjoyable time. But if it was a toss up between going to Disney and having surgery then obviously Mickey would win. But only just.

I have just finished a book – Anticancer: A New Way of Life  – written by Dr David Servan-Schreiber, who does quite literally believe that “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.”

David Servan-Schreiber is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He is in a position to talk about cancer because he has had it. Twice. He was diagnosed the first time sixteen years ago, finding out by accident. He and some colleagues were doing some research which included observing brain function using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), something that was relatively new back then. One day, one of the student ‘guinea pigs’ who was assisting with the research failed to attend and so David volunteered to take their place – to jump on the MRI and have his brain scanned. The process started. And then it stopped. He called out to his colleagues – asking what the problem was. And their response was “We can’t do the experiment. There’s something in your brain.”  By accident they had discovered a brain tumour. It was operated on, and David was fine for a while, but routine checks a few years on showed that it had reappeared. It was at that point David decided to pull together research to identify what he could do stop the cancer from returning again and this is what he talks about in his book.

A lot of what he suggests is common sense (to see a summary of the book click here). Eat well ... organic food where possible ... meat where the animals have been grass fed as they were years ago ... little dairy products ... lots of fruit and vegetables ... oily fish. Reduce the amount of white carbohydrates you consume. Drink only one glass of red wine a day. Take regular exercise. But he also talks about very specific things which can prevent cancer from appearing or reappearing – the power of turmeric, pomegranate juice and green tea. Mushrooms ... in Japan they actually give medication produced from mushroom extract to patients receiving chemotherapy.

David goes on to say how psychological wellbeing is vital in conquering cancer. How support, both mental and practical support, has a direct impact on a person’s health and recovery. That friendship plays a major role, in terms of positive impact on both morale and physical, biological condition. For example, an American study has shown that women with breast cancer who could name ten friends were four times more likely to survive their illness than those who could not. I am sooooo glad I can name at least ten friends … whether they would call me a friend is another matter…

David also stresses the importance of positivity ... removing stress and anger … relaxing … doing things that you enjoy … how these help you in the fight against cancer and could help prevent recurrance.

So back to that holiday ... ‘cos let’s face it … that is what the doctor has ordered. Yeah … I could do the States … I haven’t been before … I don’t think an hour at Maine airport for a fuel stop really counts. But where? When I want time-out … to relax … and think positive thoughts … what am I dreaming of ?

Well, the sun is shining … I am healthy … and fit (in more ways than one). I have hair, lashes and brows … and two boobs. Obviously my camera is in my hand. I am cycling alongside a long stretch of golden sandy beaches. I am sitting at a seafood restaurant and looking out on the blue ocean. Or swimming, boarding, sailing … or whale watching. Cape Cod. That is where I want to go. And … touch wood … one day I will. It won’t be this year, and possibly not even next … but one day …


Cape Cod.

One man’s mouse is another man’s fish …

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Love to hate you

Juliet: Banoffee pie?
Mark: No, thanks.
Juliet: Thank God. You would've broken my heart if you'd said yes.
Mark: Oh, right. Well, lucky you.

Now for those of you who tune in on a regular basis, and there are a few (special warm wishes my friends), then you will be more than familiar with Dr O, so can I just ask you to bear with me for a moment whilst I get any newbies up to speed – thanks.

Now, for those who don’t know, Dr O is my Oncologist – my cancer-chemo-chap. I call him Dr O, not ‘O’ because he is my 'O'ncologist, but because he is Dr Oh-so-luv-ver-ly. Now, I should point out that this is not just solely my opinion but lots of others too ... though admittedly ... most of these are women ...   And I should confess ... I luu-urve my Dr O.  No ... no ... not in that kind of way ... but in a healthy-professional-Health Professional-Patient kind of way. I luu-urve him because he is kind and compassionate. He is really interested in your wellbeing, your concerns ... he listens ... and is just a jolly nice kind of guy.

But ... having said all that ... if Dr O was lying here ... right now ... alongside me in my sick bed ... obviously in a healthy-professional-Health Professional-Patient kind of way ... I am not sure what I would be sorely tempted do to him. Would I pick up one of those accumulating bottles of medication, which seem to have magically mushroomed on my bedside cabinet over the last few weeks, and bop it over his head? Or ... would I take a stick and pin a Kleenex to it ('cos health professionals recommend you use disposable tissues these days rather than cotton hankies) and declare “I am a Cancer Patient ... get me out of here.”  Yeah ... you’ve got my drift ... I am fed up ... I don’t wanna play ball no more ... and if I could I would pick it up and stomp off home ... except I can’t ... ‘cos I am already at home.  And besides I wouldn’t have the energy to pick up the ball ... let alone stomp.

Chemo number seven went ahead last Thursday. Yes ... before you ask ... another new chemo nurse ... CN H. Very nice chap ... talked about his cholesterol issues and poppy vein problem. After he had 'dripped' me up I went into the lounge and spent my hour reading my magazine and half listening to the ‘professional blood transfusion crew’ chit chatting. It was all quite upbeat and cheerful actually. And, as I sat there, I obviously mulled over whether it would be my last chemo session – when I see Dr O in a couple of weeks would he follow through his earlier suggestion of knocking the last treatment on the head?  Part of me concluded he will ... surely he wouldn’t cruelly get my hopes up ... but then again he might not. And ... whatever he suggests ... I will go along with it.

Yes, unbelievably as I sit here moving from the usual wave one of side effects – the achy joints, tiredness, grotty eyes, steroid rage – to the second wave of hacking cough, swollen throat, horrific internal and external chemo chemical burns – I will totally accept whatever he recommends. So is it true love after all? No. No, although all this gruelling treatment is an extreme endurance, which would push the limits of the physically and mentally fittest athlete, reality dictates that if Dr O believes there is still a single little iddy diddy cancer cell remaining in my body, only one, which could be paralysed by that final treatment, which would prevent the tumour returning to my breast, or even worse allowing a new one to sprout up elsewhere, then I will grit my teeth and sweetly nod my little head at him.

OK ... so you can probably tell ... things do feel a bit grotty at the moment ... but on a positive note ... every cloud and all that ... literally ... the weather over the last week has been so totally dire I haven’t felt too resentful about holing myself in bed with my books, iPod, computer and TV.  I have consoled myself by imagining how torturous it would be if it was summer ... sunny, warm and balmy ... daytrippers taking to the beach, friends merrily flitting off on holiday ... the smokey odours of bar-b-qs drifting through my bedroom window.  Nah! Let's face it, I think a lot of people, given the choice ,would have done the same and tucked themselves in bed with a nice cuppa and a hot water bottle. The difference is that I have a full-blown guilt-free pass to do so. Which is probably just as well as the 'pitty' outburst might have been really embarrassing if I was out in public. “Err ... the pitty outburst ....?

Yep, it is official. The hair is on the way back!! Yes, yes, yes!  Now, once more I don’t want you to get too excited about this ... when I say 'hair' ... I am talking about a ... err ... presence. On the one hand it is not a lot to write home about .... but then again girls you wouldn’t want this tufty stubble stuck to your thighs. The little prickles have been joined by a definite dark five o’clock shadow. Actually ... the prickles are now more wiggles ... it looks like it might be coming back curly. Not sure where this leaves my desire for the return of the little urchin-pixie-crop-thing which I had before it fell out. I might end up with a very dodgy Kevin Keegan 70’s permed style barnet ... not what I really had in mind ... but heck at the moment I am grateful for anything ... even pit hair.

Yep ... you heard ... pit hair! That is why I am so confident that it is growing back. My arm pit hair was the first thing to cleanly evaporate and has not made an appearance since ... until a few days ago. There I was, sat in the bath ... as you do ... doing things you need to do ... and something caught my eye ... a hair ... no two ... maybe three! Yes! It must be coming back ... I have pit hair ... hurrah! How ironic, one of things that I used to hate ... a bain in my life ... became a cause for celebration. I now need to apologise to all those people who had misfortunate of being in the wrong place at the wrong time ... i.e. at my house ... and had to witness me whizzing down the stairs, semi cloaked in a slightly wrapped towel, and had to endure the vision of my underarms within two inches of their faces ... and pretend they could fully appreciate my hysterical euphoria of three little pit hairs ... all I can say is that you can get away with quite a lot when you are having treatment for cancer.

But then if you have to put up with cardboard mouth then probably anything is forgivable. “Cardboard mouth?”   Yeah, cardboard mouth. Of all the side effects I think it is the one I that detest the most. It comes on just a day or so after chemo and lasts about ten days. Basically your tongue is really sensitive and sore – waxy - the first time I got ulcers too – and your palate is just well and truly buggered. Everything tastes weird, or nasty ... or of nothing. And of course the ironic thing is that you are pumping all these ruddy steroids ... to prevent the horrific side effects from the chemo (well, that is the idea) ... and this ... along with the boredom factor ... and comfort eating factor ... gives you this incredible urge to eat.

Now, I ain’t a 'sweetie'. I can’t remember the last time that I indulged in a Victoria Sandwich, or wrapped my chops around a Hob Nob.  Me? I am totally and uttterly savoury bird.  A pure carbohydrate kind of girl.  Pasta, potatoes, pizza, olives, bread, cheese, risotto. Ooooooooh ... myyyyyyyy ... God ... yes, yes, yes! Cheesy risotto ... mmm ... think ... When Harry met Sally ... in the restaurant ... no, not the hot/cold apple pie and hot/cold custard bit ... the more 'expressive' scene ... ten minutes later.  Ooooh ... that  is what cheesy risotto does for me ...

I can hear you saying: “Oh well, at least you are losing those few pounds that you have been moaning about for ages?”    But ... err ... well ... sadly, probably not.   Because I have gone over to the dark side. “The dark side?”   Err ... yes. The one thing that I have found I can eat ... issssssss ... my sister’s banoffee pie. Can you believe it? No, not that it was made by sister and that I like it ... but that my new unabashed-can't-get-enough-of-it craving is sickly sweet, creamy caramel, crunchy bottomed banoffee pie. And you should be forewarned ...woe betide anyone who comes between me and my pie ...

I can safely say that if Dr O was lying here ... right now ... in my sick bed next to me ... obviously in a healthy-professional-Health Professional-Patient kind of way ... his dessert fork heading towards my bowl of yummy banoffee would certainly disappear pretty rapidly ... in a very NON-healthy-professional Health Professional-Patient kind of way ...

OK, so this ain’t me ... but I am thinking of printing it out and pinning it to the fridge door.

Food for thought.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Can’t buy me love ... or trust ...

To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.
George MacDonald

So how’s it going?”

Totally crap”.

Yes, it is that time again. The third week. Bloods with my GP on the Tuesday, to check that all is OK to have the chemo on the Thursday. I had to wait, as always, ‘cos my doctor runs this “open surgery” thing where you turn up without an appointment and wait to be seen. I didn’t mind too much this week as I am still feeling quite upbeat and OK. I sat in my favourite seat in the corner and rummaged through the magazines. Ooh, Psychologies, I like that one. I got nice and comfy and started browsing through it. I read a couple of articles and became puzzled ... when was this published? I flicked back to the front page to check ... mmm .... August 2005. Now, I know we are pretty laid back in Funky Town ... but a four year old magazine?! I continued reading it and an article lit up as I turned the pages. The title was something along lines of “I was told I had cancer ... then heard even more shocking news.” Of course, I was glued ... oh God if they call me now I am going to have to put the magazine in my bag ... I know that is a bit naughty but it has been there for four years ... surely anyone who has wanted to read it has done so by now ... 

So, what could be worse than being told that you have cancer? Now, when I was diagnosed I did think back to a friend and colleague who I worked with many years ago. Her son was about to go on holiday to France with his grandparents, but a day or so before he complained of tummy ache ... which got worse and worse ... so she took him to the doctors. It turned out that at the age of about 7 or 8 he had a cancerous tumour. But thankfully he hadn't gone to France and it had been caught just in time. And I thought about this, and although I didn’t want to have cancer, obviously, at least I could console myself that it was me and not one of my children. Me, who was bigger, stronger ... someone who had had 41 years to live a life ... do the things that I wanted to do ... though whether I had actually done them all was another matter ...

Not good then? So what has been happening?” asked Dr C. So I told him about my side effects. The fact that I get two waves. The first with the “normal” side effects ... the achy joints and pains and the cardboard mouth ... and then the second wave with the swollen throat, loss of voice, the hive-y rash. “I know I like to feel special, but on this occasion I could really pass it up”, I said. “I’ll prescribe you some cream and anti-histamine. I think that might help”, he replied.

As he took my bloods I said: “I don’t want you to take this personally but I won’t miss my little visits to see you.” He chuckled softly and said “I don’t want you to take this personally, but I won’t miss seeing you either.” We laughed.

I stepped out of the surgery and did something that I have done previously ... back in the autumn ...I walked ... Forest Gump style. And ... I did as I did before ... I strolled through the town ... out to the railway station ... along the cycle path ... to Dartington ... and up to the Gardens. One of my favourite places. It was different this time, on the first occasion it had been warmer, the canoeists were on the river, the trees were dropping their amber and yellow leaves ... and when I arrived at my resting spot, the bench on the Sunny Border, I removed my coat and I sipped my bottle of water and enjoyed the sun warming my face. This time it was cold and icy ... though the sun was still shining ... a beautiful winter’s day.

As I walked I thought about the article that I read in the magazine whilst I waiting to see my GP. It was about a woman who had worked as a presenter for Channel 4.  Some years ago, whilst she was still in her 30s, she had found a lump in her breast. She had been told that “it probably isn’t suspicious” – well a few of us have heard that – but like me nobody was complacent and she was sent for further checks. She went on to be told that in fact it was “suspicious” and that it was indeed malignant. Initially she had a lumpectomy, breast conserving surgery where only the lump is removed, but was later told that the cancer was more prolific than they had previously believed and that it had spread to the other breast too. So she returned to the operating theatre where she had a double mastectomy – in other words she had both of her breasts removed. This was followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy ... no walk in the park by any means.

Following her treatment she and her husband made the decision to move house to be closer to his parents, so if she should become ill again would be someone on hand to support her physically and mentally. Though this decision meant her giving up her job. She was also told that her cancer was hormone driven so she should not become pregnant again as this would massively increase the chance of the cancer returning.

However, one of the cruellest things about cancer is the fact that once you have it, it lives with you forever. It never totally goes away – it is always in the back your mind that it will return, or reappear somewhere else. People talk about those who have suffered from cancer being given the "all clear" ... but there is no such thing.  You can be tested ... mammograms, MRIs, ultrasounds ... and the results are only relevant for the day that you are assessed.  For that day only. There is no guarantee that tomorrow ... next week  ... next year ... that it won't reappear.  And that is what she talked about ... the fear ... as many do ... the worry that every ache or pain could be a sign of a new tumour ... that it is back. So, what was the twist? What could be worse than being told you have cancer?

Well ... some years on she had been for some routine check ups ... and then called back to the hospital to hear the results. She described how she walked into the room and came face to face with “lots of important people”. Consultants and managers. Her heart dropped ... it must be very bad news ... they must have found something terrible. But they hadn’t. She was in fact told she had did not have cancer... and that she never had. That the locum that she had seen had been investigated for misconduct and that she, and a number of other women, had been misdiagnosed.

She described her immediate reaction and the feelings that followed in the days after. She talked about the fact that she wanted to feel pleased, that she knew that thousands of women who have, or have had suffered, from breast cancer would be elated to receive such news. And of course she was pleased in some ways ... but felt bitter about having to go through the physical and mental gruel of treatment, and the aftermath. The removal of her breasts, giving up her job, the constant worry that it might return. She didn’t talk about compensation but I am sure that there would have been some. Maybe, running to 5, probably 6 figures. Enough to pay for some beautiful new cosmetic breasts ... but of course, money doesn’t buy everything. She went on to have the little girl that she had always wanted, but grieved that she couldn’t breastfeed her daughter as she had her sons.

As I stood and admired the tranquil view - the river with the delicate cold mist hovering over its surface – I wondered how I would feel if was to be told such news. If I was called to the hospital and told that there had been a mistake ... that I don’t and have never had cancer. There would be no doubt that I would be pretty cheesed off.  Robbed of several months ... or even years ... of a normal life ... having to endure the chemo and the painful side effects, surgery which could never be reversed. But to have this shadow ... the permanent shadow that I will have to endure for the rest of my life ... the threat of cancer returning to my body to be magically erased .... money can’t buy everything ....

As I got up to put my coat on Dr C said “I see from your notes that Dr O says he saw you before Christmas and is really pleased with the apparent impact the chemo has had on your tumour.” I nodded, “Yes, so much so he is talking about cancelling the final treatment". “That would be brilliant”, he said. “Yeah, it all sounds pretty positive, except they are still talking about a mastectomy, when I had my hopes on a lumpectomy.” He was surprised and shocked. “That is a blow. I thought the whole point of neo-adjuvant surgery was so you could have breast conserving surgery”. I went on to explain what Dr O had said to me. That the priority was to get rid of the lump ... that chemo, surgery and rads are all I have available to me. That in the long term there are no meds for me to fall back on.

At the end of the day I know that Dr O and Dr Jordan are going to recommend what is clinically best for me. They are not going to do surgery which is not necessary. More drastic surgery is additional time and expense with greater chance of complications and long-term care. Minimal surgery is better for them as well as me. If they can do a lumpectomy then they will ... if my longer term prospects are better if they do a mastectomy then they will recommend that ... and I will go with what they say ... I trust them.”

I pulled my coat off the back of the chair and put it on. As I turned back to say goodbye to Dr C I closed the conversation by explaining: “I just have to accept that I have to patiently sit and wait to hear what is the best way to go forward ... my life ... and my boobs ... are in their hands ....”

As I opened the door and left the consulting room I heard Dr C let out a loud hearty guffaw.  I know that he wants me back on the road to recovery too - which is why he made the comment about how he will be pleased not to see me - but I am pretty sure he is going to miss my little visits.