Sylvie's Breast Cancer Story Part 2
A week after my initial scans, my husband dropped me off at the Prince of Wales Breast Clinic for my follow up appointment. A confirmation email said to expect to be at the clinic for most of the day. So, I packed a book and helped myself to the biscuits and tea provided and smiled at every woman that came into the waiting room.
One by one we were called into the room to have another screen and then told to wait in the room outside. One by one the women left, and it was only me and another lady sitting tentatively in the room.
I will not deny a feeling of anxiety started to kick in. As I mentioned, I had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma exactly 10 years ago and after treatment I was told I had had a complete response to the Chemo, radiation and smart drugs and was cancer free.
After some time and with enough time for my anxiety to completely take hold, I was called in to see the Radiologist for the Ultrasound. She was a no-nonsense doctor in her 60s and I instantly knew I was in good hands. I noticed that she kept moving the ultrasound over the same spot and I saw that her face had assumed that concerned, not happy about this kind of expression. I could feel my heart pounding and thought if I wasn’t already lying down, I might faint. You know that kind of overwhelming ‘this isn’t real’ feeling, panic really?
She finally told me that she would need to do four (not one) biopsies!!! To which I reply, “what, what do you mean, four”? Some memories do not fade easily, and I recalled the bone marrow biopsy I had to have when I was treated for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma the decade prior.
I generally like people who ‘say it like it is’. Today was an exception, as I was feeling anxious. With genuine professional concern and authority, she quietly said ‘look, I’m not going to lie, this doesn’t look good’.
With tears welling, I asked her to call my husband. I think I freaked her out slightly as a counsellor quickly bustled into the room and whisked me off into a side meeting room where I proceeded to sob and curse. Fortunately, all the while the beautiful counsellor just held my hand and reassured me that my husband was on his way.
When Guy arrived, I felt supported enough to finally let them do the biopsies. Can you believe my luck, the bloody biopsy gun kept ‘misfiring’ so I think she went in 10 times. By the end of it, I felt bruised, scared, and fragile.
Guy and I were then led into another room and left alone to talk while we waited for one of the Doctors to arrive to speak to us. Totally freaked out, sobbing, and trying to stem the flow of blood from one of the incisions which wouldn’t stop bleeding, we waited.
When the Surgeon arrived, he was pretty calm, almost matter of fact, asked me if I was in good health otherwise and basically said that we had to wait for the results of the biopsies which for some reason take a good week to come back. All I could think of was how I was going to get through the next week, surely they don’t make you wait a week???
Thankfully, I remembered that we were going away with close friends to their beach house, which happened to be the weekend before the Tuesday appointment to get the results. Oh my God, that weekend kept me sane, it was a wonderful sanctuary for me to find peace and center myself before the follow up and unbeknownst to me, what was ahead.
The property was beautiful and serene, we laughed, we drank gin and tonics and wine on the jetty, we walked, ate, laughed, slept and watched rugby, just what I needed to calm the storm going on in my body.
Look out for my next post on surgery and gratitude.