On Wednesday 12th June 2019 I received the news that a lump I had found in my boob, some 4 weeks earlier, was cancer. What the actual f*ck. I sit here and write this 5 days later and I'm still not sure I have completely understood what it means and it is in fact me that this is happening to.
On the 1st April 2019 I went back to work. Those that have read the previous blogs or who have had their social media feeds littered with my escapades on my mountain bike for the last 8 months will know I went through a pretty crap time, being off work with stress, depression and anxiety but finding the healing power from mountain biking which played an integral part in me getting better.
I wondered what the hell to do about work, questioning if I could ever go back, if I wanted to, could I cope, would it plummet me back down, I was trying to figure out so many bloody things that in the end I kept it simple and although I didn't feel entirely ready I went back.
Apart from realising I had a lot of inner rage that seemed to come out on the morning train journeys whilst sharing carriages with the most obnoxious humans, things were okay. I had ups and downs, some days crying on the train like an absolute mentalist feeling like I couldn't cope with work but then feeling proud of myself when I had survived a whole day and hadn't given up, even though one day I had wiped my nose on a teabag and then hysterically laughed until I cried. Utterly bonkers. It was a bit of a roller coaster but I made it in every day, certain friends being my outlet so I didn't turn around and lob peoples mobile phones out of the train doors or shove a tissue in their hand demanding they blew their nose before I screamed. Things were on the up and I was getting in a nice routine.
Outside of work I was riding my bike at every opportunity, doing some amazing things and getting fitter. I treated myself to a new full suss bike after 6 months and have loved seeing my progress. My life had changed from when I first went off sick back in October 2018 and I was finally feeling back on track. I knew I wasn't completely okay but the meh moments were short lived and I knew I was progressing with my mentalness.
On 13th May, a typical Monday morning, I was getting ready for work and I felt a lump on my left boob. It was only small and I could wiggle it around a bit and it didn't hurt but it felt alien and I sort of knew I shouldn't ignore it. I tried to remember the last time I had checked my boobs properly but couldn't but knew it wouldn't have been that long. I rang mother dearest and asked her what I should do. She told me to get an appointment at the docs and then I would probably be referred to the hospital to get it checked. I managed to get an emergency appointment that very morning so off I went. The GP wasn't worried, said it was probably nothing but I would be referred to the breast clinic.
2 weeks later I had an ultrasound at the hospital and the nurse decided I would need a biopsy as the giant needle she stuck in my tit to drain the fluid, hit a solid mass. Seriously the needle was huge. I then had a biopsy which involved what looked like a date stamp shooting a blade into my boob to take slices from this lump. Jesus Christ it hurt. It was like a searing burning pain and I can still hear the noise now. What was worse was when the second nurse had to put pressure on the boob between slices, I did my best Flat Stan impression, trying to invert into my spine so I couldn't feel her pressing my boob down, at one point I told her I just wanted to grab her hands and push her off. The nurse said it was a matter of course and not to worry and I would get my appointment for the results within 2 weeks.
I didn't really think much about it. I told a few friends I kept imagining having to tell people I had breast cancer but they had been through the same and said that was normal. I shut my head up and didn't tell many people about it. I felt great and was the fittest I had ever been, other than being a bit tired which I think is part of adulthood I felt good. People were commenting on my photos that I looked really healthy and happy and I did. Little did I know I had this thing growing in me. I keep looking back on my photos thinking, shit, I did that and had cancer.
My appointment came and then a few hours before I was due to attend it got cancelled. I was a little bit curious about that and a fleeting worry but told myself to shut up. I had a new appointment for a week later and actually tried to change it as it was inconvenient but they changed the time and I could go. Thank god.
There had been another family emergency in the early hours of that day so I went to the appointment on my own. Despite my Mum and sister trying to come with me, for some reason I wouldn't let them and said I was fine and didn't want to make a big deal about it.
I walked into the room and the doctor asked if I had anyone with me. Shit. My heart stopped and my ears started to ring and I listened as he told me I had breast cancer.
I don't even know what I thought, he was talking and using some crazy medical words and I cut across him and asked him if I was going to die. He said no. Thank fuck for that. I wasn't ready to die. I was told it was treatable, I had caught it early and it hadn't spread but it was an aggressive form. I wondered if it had absorbed some of my inner train aggression? I heard the words; chemotherapy, surgery, reconstructive surgery and radiotherapy. I cut across him again and asked if I was going to loose my hair. He said yes. What!? I love my hair, even though I don't brush it, I love it, I don't want to be bald.
I then left the doctors room and sat with the breast cancer nurse. I was trying to process what I had heard, she repeated it and I took a little more in.
I had grade 3, primary ductal cancer, my hormones were high levels (I could have told them that) and I was her2+ which meant there was a protein that was feeding the cancer. I drifted off thinking of the huge bag or protein powder I had been demolishing over the preceding months wondering if that had fed this lump?! I asked her again about my hair and she said 100% every strand on my body would go due to the chemo drugs I would have. I don't want to look like a cancer patient. On a positive note, I may never have to shave my legs again. Get in.
Amidst all this, she then dropped the bomb about my fertility. I would need to think about freezing my eggs and the fact that chemo will mess me up. Huh!? What. She says if I was going to go down that route it would all need to be done before chemo so in the next month. Yipee. Babies? I wasn't sure about that but I certainly didn't want the damn choice taken away from me, had I made a mistake not trying to settle down earlier? Would I ever be pregnant? Huh? Why am I being forced to think about this? Chemo brings on early menopause. Great. Hot flushes here I come but on a serious note, the fertility leaflet does not make for good reading. I have a very small window to get preggers if the chemo gods go against me and bring on the menopause.
She told me about the wig people at the hospital, the oncology appointment and that I should write down any questions I had. I mean, what questions, there were a million but there were none? I learnt that they might take my whole boob off if the lump hasn't shrunk enough after chemo or they would take a bit of it away but reconstructive surgery was available (I wondered if I could get a boob lift whilst they were there). Radiotherapy sounds like intensive sunburn but then it would all be over.
I walked out of the room in a bit of a bubble.
I had cancer.
Telling people has been the weirdest thing. There's no easy way of saying it, you just have to say it. I am not one to mince my words either. I feel a bit detached from my words. Maybe that's a coping mechanism?
I genuinely feel quite positive though and lucky, oh so lucky. I am going to be okay. I know some people have to have different conversations which would be horrendous. I have asked myself if I am making a bit of a big deal about it as I am actually going to be okay but I guess it is pretty shit.
I have had moments where it has hit me like a train, a fear I am riddled with it and I am going to die and they have got it wrong? The realisation I may not have babies. The dread about loosing my hair and looking like a potato. The inconvenience of it all. I had a bloody good summer planned and have just met a lovely human. What a bonkers scenario that has been. "Hey new relationship, I know it's early days and things are really great but I have cancer and will be a bit bizarre for 9 months and might never have babies and you didn't sign up for this so I'll understand if you want to run for the hills". No one ever tells you how to have those bad boy conversations.
It's surreal. It feels like I am in a movie and I am not really talking about myself but I am.
I feel lucky I have so many wonderful people around me, despite knowing I have a shitty lump in my body that is causing me this strife, I am bursting with love. Cheesy as hell but my family and friends are the best. I know I won't be doing this alone.
I am determined to remain on my bike and as normal as possible throughout the treatments. I am going to write about the experiences along the way, it helps me and if it can get just one person to check out any suspicious lumps or pains then it is worth it.
I caught mine early, I am lucky but am still facing a few major blows because of my age, but in the main I am lucky.
Check your boobs. Check your body. Go to the GP if you have anything suspicious going on as it could save your life.
Welcome to the next step in the ride of my life and there's me thinking it was calming down.