The shock of the “C” word hits and suddenly a rational, fairly sensible person becomes a gibbering heap. On hearing those words “cancer” and “mastectomy” my mind went into overdrive. “No, no, no, some sort of mistake surely” .. at that point I told the room I would need to swear and did (F*ckitty F*ck became a favourite) and tears appeared and ran down my face. This was not the outcome I had thought I would have. Silly things popped into my head.. surely I was too tall for breast cancer – I’m 5ft 9ins, no one in my family had it, I had breastfed three babies so it must be a mistake, how would I tell our grown up children and my parents. At this point one of the lovely breast care nurses came in, I sat up got dressed and started firing questions at her: could it be one out (mastectomy) one in (implant), what next, when, what sort of time line… didn’t they know that I was back at school the next day and this was all really, really, REALLY inconvenient – I had meetings to go to, new classes to teach, my team of coaches to manage and lead, new A Level and GCSE modules to plan. Breast Cancer doesn’t care about any of that and within the space of an hour the Impatient Patient had been born. A cup of coffee, lots of tissues and a handout later and Nick and I walked back to the car. The sun was still shining, Derriford was still busy, the buses were running, people were going about their business but I felt physically sick and scared.
Tip: If you are called back to have a follow up mammogram make sure you wear a top which is easy to get on and off. Don’t be embarrassed as the medical professionals have seen everything before. Don’t take their matter of fact attitude as unkindness – this is their role, they are the experts and they go above and beyond to help. It is okay to cry, they have lots of tissues.