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Thursday, 28 May 2015

Appointment Day

My appointment isn't until later this afternoon and my eldest daughter will be accompanying me which is a relief. Josie is a sister in the Emergency Dept at Burton Hospital where I'm headed and so she's back to work on her day off.
The Breast Care Clinic is a dedicated building for breast cancer patients and the clinic I'm attending is a 'New Patient Clinic'. The room soon fills up and with statistics being 1 in 8 women having breast cancer it's apparent that many will leave today with bad news.
It was weird being back here because this is where I brought my Mom for her appointments when she had breast cancer 6 years ago. I also felt as if judgement was being served on me as I've moaned about  the fact that there is so much more dedicated care and fundraising given to breast cancer than other lesser known cancers. My experience of kidney cancer left me feeling completely bewildered and alone.
That said I can't fault the NHS or the level of care given, this appointment has been fast tracked and the staff here are amazing.
I'm first called in to see the consultant who asks to examine me, confirms the lump and says that he can also feel that my lymph nodes are swollen. The first time this happened was 2 weeks before my kidney cancer introduced itself so I wasn't happy to hear they were back. However,  my lymph nodes have reappeared since with no sinister consequences. He takes some more information from me and then we're sent back to the waiting room.
Next I'm taken in for a mammogram which wasn't easy given my 32AA size...However it was done swiftly by 2 lovely radiographers and I was then taken for an ultrasound scan of the area. For this there were 2 nurses and a doctor who had a look at the mammogram images then started to scan me. Thankfully she very quickly confirmed that the lump I had felt was a benign cyst. It was said very matter of fact but the relief was immense. However she then asked the nurses to take a look at the images and explained that she wasn't happy with what she could see and I'd need another mammogram.
Back out to the waiting room with Josie who was obviously becoming concerned as I'd been a while in there already.  Once the room was free again I was called for a second mammogram for which I felt like a  contortionist the way I had to be positioned. Then the radiographers accompanied me in to have another ultrasound. Lying there with 5 professionals querying what they saw made me very nervous. Then the doctor said I could take a look, it appeared as though my upper right side was shadowy compared to the left. When they zoomed right in it looked as though I had several other cysts.
Once I was dressed again I was sent back out into the waiting room until I could see the  consultant again. Having learnt my lesson about wearing ridiculous clothing when attending hospital (although previously this had been in an ambulance) I'd attempted to take the lead from Lisanne Vos who wrote in her blog R U Kidneying Me about how she turned up for her surgery in gym gear with a positive mental attitude. For this appointment I looked like I'd arrived for a yoga class in leopard print Puma leggings and a fitted sports top - not easy to peel on and off for each examination,  another hospital clothing fail.
It wasn't long before I was called in to see the consultant and he got straight to the point saying that the good news was my lump was definitely  benign. He then went onto add that given my history and the fact my lymph nodes were swollen and the ultrasound scan uncertainty he was booking me in for a CT scan.
This was something I'd avoided since November 2013 after having 3 CT scans + a bone scan in close succession due to my kidney cancer. However, I now felt quite relieved, I just wanted to know if there was anything nasty lurking around inside me and so the saga continues.
Good news + unanswered questions = a continued state of limbo.
I had thought I'd got this cancer thing sorted but it had other ideas. Last time it arrived without warning, this scare has taken up the best part of a month and taught me I have no control over that C word. It can torment your head,  attack your body, stop you from sleeping and worst of all, keep you guessing.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


It's now Tuesday 28th April and I've skipped a couple of days writing. I asked my husband to open the letter for me on Sunday and now know my appointment is booked for tomorrow at 1.30pm
I'm a bit all over the place at the moment as you can imagine. I can't settle to do anything today. Sunday was a family day, Monday spent getting sorted after holiday so busy with washing, shopping etc and little time for idle thought. Oh, I did have an appointment for a cervical cancer check to attend yesterday,  great timing but I it has to be done, that's another letter that'll be in the post shortly.
Today however I'm so tired,  combination of a busy day yesterday and hardly any sleep last night. My feelings are divided between sensibility 'stop worrying and get on with things ' and fear ' what if...'
I've rationalised both scenarios. If everything is ok I'll breath as it of relief and crack on with life (after offering up a huge prayer of thanks). If the news is bad I'll probably shed a few tears and, crack on with life - I got through it once so I can do it again.
The real fear right now is not knowing, I feel my life is on hold. I've written previously about how fortunate I was to have fallen ill suddenly the first time, no waiting and worrying, no pain or suffering beforehand. This is excruciating especially at night when all my worst fears seem to close in.
What about my family, how will they cope, how will I walk our dogs,  I won't be able to go running, play netball, do yoga. It's not f***ing fair!

Goodbye Wales

We drove home through the mountains so we'd get to travel past Snowdonia. The weather hasn't improved but it just adds to the atmosphere, it's a wonderful journey taking in stunning scenery.
Arriving home the first thing I see is a pile of post on the stairs,  that can wait. It's amazing how quickly you slip back to routine, within no time I'm busy sorting, preparing and planning the week ahead. I easily  manage to dismiss my unopened post.
It'll be there in the morning.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Up and out for a run at 5.30am, it's a  sin not to take full advantage of scenery like this and the early morning is my favourite time to take it all in.
I didn't sleep particularly well again so it wasn't easy getting out of bed but boy was it worth it, I took nearly a minute off my time from Tuesday.  My normal distance is 2 miles of a morning and this run is just short at 1.8miles but I still ran a personal best time for the mile.
There is definitely something in the runners high feeling you get that motivates you into the day. When I'm running my thoughts are clearer and this morning I've had an idea...
Back to make some notes, stop wasting  energy worrying about might be's and start making plans.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Calm Before

Today is set to be the hottest day so far, already unseasonably  warm for April today's temperatures are set to reach 19 degrees.
Apart from the sea breeze it's quite still and I've settled down for a day sunbathing and reading. I have nothing to do and nowhere to be.
When I spoke to my daughter earlier this week she mentioned a 1st class letter from the hospital that had arrived for me. I am of course expecting my appointment  through but didn't want to tell her. She asked if I wanted her to open it in case it was anything  important, I said whatever it is will have to wait.
In between books, puzzles and the odd bit of work that crops up  (online retail never really has a holiday) my mind wanders. I have nothing to do and nowhere to be, yet I feel restless, maybe it's just my mind.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Keep On Running

Not a bad sleep but it's 5.30am and I'm wide awake so I get up and out and off for a run.
It's a spectacular setting, I'm running  along a straight,  flat footpath  along the coast  road with mountains ahead of me and the sea to my right. The tide is out and the sky is almost clear as the sun rises, it's cool right now but it'll be  another scorcher later.
The mountains ahead are known as the 3 sisters and as I reach the next village and turn to go back, I'm now heading towards the Snowdonia range with the sea coming in to my right.
On my left are farms with a patchwork of fields and the birds are trying to drown out the incoming tide with their dawn chorus.
I'm running, I feel good and my surroundings are just beautiful. There is absolutely nothing to fear, how could there be, this is the life.

Friday, 22 May 2015


I can't  pass a magpie without greeting it and all of its family and friends. The usual things are avoided, walking on cracks, going under ladders etc but then there's the 'made up ' ridiculous rituals that can drive you crazy. Only cooking with even numbers; 2 onions, 6 mushrooms, 4 potatoes etc, use 3 carrots and somethings bound to go wrong, right?  Never turning inside out clothes the right way round, asking for trouble.  Making sure the volume on the radio or tv  is an even number, touching every other lamp post on the way home,  I could go on but they only get more bizarre.
Being away from it all I am more relaxed plus there aren't any magpies and I'm not sure you need to greet seagulls. 
When I woke this morning and lay a moment, realising where I was and hearing the waves on the shore outside I felt a wonderful  sense of calm. Then I remembered the lump and that's when the superstition  game kicked in. If I feel to check it's still there, it's bad. If I can ignore it all day it's harmless. How f***ing ridiculous.
So its now gone 6pm and the games over, I check and the lumps still there but so are the waves crashing on the shore outside. Nothing's changed and no amount of even numbers, birds or cracked pavements will alter the outcome of this latest 'test'.