Teachers talk much about resilience – how our students can be resilient when times are hard, when learning and exams don’t go well for them – how to be academically resilient. Where I teach we have some of the most socially resilient children in Plymouth who live in some of the most economically and socially deprived areas in the City. We try and give the students a sense of worth and develop growth mindset. Some of this comes from Matthew Syed and his books where he writes about marginal gains to enhance performance and that innovation dares to happen when we think differently. If the students I worked with could be resilient so could I and I would challenge the status quo by not being the anxious patient during the histopathology feedback – I would be the patient who turned weaknesses into strengths. Whatever the outcome I was determined it would be an upbeat meeting – I had nothing to lose. What would be, would be.
As I dressed for the trip up to Derriford I carefully applied a red bobble around the nipple scar, googley eyes and home made antlers to the bionic boob. Nick thought it was crackers but I was already laughing as I did it. Sports bra in place to hold it all together, bright red jumper and POWER red lipstick on I was ready to go.
It was the usual routine, leave plenty of time to travel the three miles, find a space in the impossible car park, walk past the M&S concession, the smokers in their PJs, through the concourse, up the stairs and follow the signs to the Primrose clinic – sign in and sit down. I chuckled all the way!
In time we were called in by one of the Breast Care Nurses (this one had sat with me just before the surgery) and I told her what I was going to do. She just raised an eyebrow and smiled in a benign way. We went to the office and met Mr X, exchanged pleasantries and then into the adjoining treatment room where I had to put on the purple Paso Doble cape once more. This time I sat on the edge of the bed and checked Rudolf was secure. Mr X came in – professional as ever and asked how the breast was feeling. I replied that it was fine apart from a bit of redness and it felt a bit woody at the top….. so he asked to see it and ………….Ta Dah…. I was crying with laughter, Nick was giggling, Mr X looked a bit surprised at first then joined in. The bionic boob was examined – first with Rudolf attached and then without and it was healing up well. Whatever the subsequent bit of the consultation was going to bring we had at least had a little bit of fun. It had brightened my day.
Once dressed it was down to business and Nick and I sat together in the office whilst Mr X went through the histopathology results. Two tumours were identified as being 10mm and 12mm in size (not three as in the original ultrasound), they were Grade 2, the clearance was GOOD, three lymph glands had been removed and one was positive with a micro bit of cancer 0.5mm. This meant that the only adjuvant or follow up treatment was likely to be hormone therapy and this would be discussed with me at a follow up appointment in Oncology. I was welcome to come back to the Primrose unit to the see the surgeon in a year and have annual mammograms for the next 5 years.
Nick and I handed over some daft Christmas presents to Mr X and one for each of the Breast Care Nurses, gave Mr X and the nurse a hug and then we were out of there – who cared if the car park was impossible the impatient patient was effectively the cancer free patient (touch wood!). To celebrate we had lunch at Il Pezzitino in Stoke – my first alcoholic drink in weeks (if you get the chance visit – it is run by a very dear friend, who is married to a surgeon who had gone out of their way to look after us). CHEERS! That POWER red lipstick had done the trick – although I do look a bit dazed here. After lunch we phoned my folks and the kids – tears and laughter all around. Later I went to school and told the girls on the top corridor – more tears and laughter. It was going to be a brilliant Christmas.