22. A culture of kindness

This entry is one I have really thought about as it doesn’t fit into the story chronologically – it is about kindness.

As I’ve read back through the entries, it strikes me that there is a lot of crying.  There was but also many times of great laughter, real love, friendship and kindness.  Once I’d told my closest chums about the “C” word they were even more kind and compassionate than they had already been.  Local friends, friends for about 30 years, were instantly there for me.  They had advice if I needed it or were just happy to listen to my ramblings.  We’d lived in the same street at the beginning of our marriages and had children at the same time.  It was okay to be frightened of the unknown with them.  One was quite stern with me and said I didn’t have to be jolly all the time and that was fine.  Friends who lived abroad, Facebook friends were all kind and it made me feel very loved.

Other friends were equally kind – I was worried about the impact this diagnosis had on my husband, children and parents and friends made it their business to check in with all of them on a regular basis.

My colleagues and friends at school were kind and thoughtful – so if I had had an appointment they ensured I didn’t have to rush back and teach straight away.  One colleague popped round with a pair of cashmere socks as she knew I’d have cold feet.

I went into the Plymouth branch of Marks and Spencer not long after diagnosis as I wanted to suss out the mastectomy bra options.  I didn’t know what sort of mastectomy I’d be having but I wanted to know about options.  I thought I was completely together and one Sunday went to M&S.  I searched for the mastectomy bras… couldn’t find them and needed help.  The women who work in the M&S bra department must have to do a kindness module as part of their customer service as I struggled to get the word mastectomy out and they just held my arm and told me I’d be okay and when I knew more I was to come back and be measured and fitted.   When I did know more and came back, was measured, fitted front zipped sports bras for post surgery they were incredibly kind and wished me luck.

Everyone I’d met at Derriford Hospital had been kind in the run up to the surgery, Radiographers, the Breast Care Nurses at the Primrose Clinic (who deal with this issue all the time) were matter of fact, never dismissive and kind.  The surgeon, Mr X and his team were all compassionate and kind, especially the day of the surgery. The people who work in the Mustard Tree were sympathetic and didn’t judge when I just needed a cup of fruity tea and put my shoulders down for 10 minutes.

Perhaps I just didn’t really notice how much kindness there is before, too wrapped up in running to keep still.  I suspect kindness is always there – just under the radar, when there is a storm brewing and cold fronts are sweeping in kindness pops up and is more noticeable – like a warm front bringing warmer, milder air.

Author: fionaosmaston

I live in Plymouth, Devon with my husband Nick and near my parents Sandy and Sheena. Our three children, Marcus, Phoebe and Miles are grown up. I am a geographer and love teaching Geography. My current role is as an Assistant Vice Principal in an inner city comprehensive school where I lead on coaching and initial teacher training. In August 2017 I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma and following a skin sparing mastectomy and endrocrine/hormone treatment I am now awaiting a final reconstruction. These views are my own and writing this story has helped me come to terms with where I am in this interlude of life which has been dominated by breast cancer.

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