So, here's the thing. My week started normally, on Monday. Just the usual work and a client lunch where we discussed the weather in England (-15 in Yorkshire!), the new Victorian government, holiday plans and the merits of roast goose v roast turkey.
On Tuesday I had a mammogram and an ultrasound. Routine I thought. I had never had either of these before but something did not feel quite right to me so I thought I should take a precaution. I knew the results were not routine when the ultrasound operator told me that I needed to go back to my referring doctor that very afternoon.
On Wednesday I saw a breast surgeon, had 7 biopsies and an MRI.
On Thursday I was told that I had multi focal invasive carcinoma in my right breast.
Today as I write this I am preparing to have surgery on Monday. A mastectomy actually.
I feel strangely light-headed, which I put down to the shock. I kind of expected I would be wailing and howling. But maybe that is still to come.
It's empty in the valley of your heart
The sun it rises slowly as you walk
away from all the fears and all the faults
you left behind
(The Cave by Mumford & Sons)
Like all illnesses, cancer is a process. There are many options, many possible treatments, particularly so for breast cancer. I am taking things one day at a time, because that is the logical thing to do and also because if I think too far ahead my heart will break.
I have been so so impressed by all the medical people I have dealt with just in the last few days. Their compassion, their calm and their professionalism has made me feel very fortunate to live here, in Melbourne, with such great medical care.
And strangely, I actually feel lucky. Lucky that my doctor ordered an ultrasound as well as a mammogram (because the mammogram revealed nothing). Lucky because it is on my right side, and I am left handed.
Once you have children, as everyone tediously says, everything changes. And that includes they way you view yourself and your role on this green and blue planet.
On a trivial level, I found I could no longer watch war films because I kept thinking about my son going off to war.
More positively I started to feel that I owed my children an obligation to stay alive and healthy for as long as I could. That is in part what was behind my decision a year ago to start training three times a week, from a standing start of never having exercised. So, at least, ironically, I can comfort myself with the thought that I go into this at a reasonably good level of physical health.
Before all this happened, I was going to do a little post on children's Christmas books, because to me Christmas is not complete without them. Here is just a little excerpt, from my very favourite book, the Snowman, by Raymond Briggs. This is a magical book, which reminds me every time I read it of the fragility of life and how you should make the most of everything (in the case of this story, before it melts).
All the images in this book are divine but I particularly like this one, of the little boy and the snowman flying over the onion domes in Red Square in Moscow.
There are so many things whirling around in my mind. I still have so many basic things to sort out. Work. Christmas lunch. What do I tell the children? What do I tell the children?
So, dear friends, as you may have gathered, I need to take a break from this little blog, to face my demons and have my battle. Don't think I am going away any time soon though.
Today I want you all to tell at least one person you love them, and stop, just for 30 seconds, and put your face in the sunshine (or snow), and smile.
Update: (19 December 2010)
I just wanted to say thank you all, from the very bottom of my heart for your kind thoughts, suggestions, wishes of love, whimsical quotes and compassionate messages. To my fellow travellers, family members of cancer sufferers, occasional visitors, complete strangers, regular commenters and dear dear blog friends: thank you. One day soon I will get around to visiting each and every one of you.
And thank you all for the emails.
And thank you to Ness Lockyer, Jane, Kerry, Amanda, Martha, Anita, JMW, Maxabella, Kerri, Ann, Caterpillar, Posie, Anita, Millie, Natasha, Anna and AM (I hope that is everyone) for posting about this.
I have always been terrible at asking for help, because I am one of those people who thinks I can do it better and quicker than anyone else. I still think that is true! But I see now that such an approach has to change. I have great friends and family and they are already amazing me with their support.
I feel utterly buoyed by all your thoughts. My over imaginative son told me on Friday that he could see real Transformers in the clouds. Well, I can see other things. Love. Support. Positive thoughts. And quite a lot of white fluffy stuff. Which reminds me of something I have often said, which is that blogging brings out that all that is great about humanity.
(first three images from SarahKaye.com)