Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Twas the day before....

I am sitting at my dining room table with Masterchef  on in the background, my son on the couch and my partner ( who arrived this afternoon and I have decided to give  the pseudonym of Ducatilad) sitting watching as well.

The picture of domesticity - I am existing in a parallel universe - tomorrow I am going in for a double mastectomy and my body will never be the same again. So hard to wrap my head around this.

I am exhausted. I had a very big day today. 

Today was the sentinel node procedure where they inject dye to locate the sentinel nodes prior to surgery. This enables the surgeon to test that node for any signs of cancer and if there is no evidence then they can leave the rest of the nodes. There is a much more medical explanation I am sure but I don't have the energy ( or really the capacity) to go into much more detail. Suffice to say this technology was not around 15 years ago, but the procedure reduces the long term issues and makes the surgery less invasive. OK how much less can a double mastectomy really be you ask.

I had to be at the nuclear medicine clinic at the Hospital at 11. My gorgeous friend M picked me up
 at 9:30 (she had even had a blow dry to look fantastic for the procedure) and we went and had breakfast before.

Then we headed over to the Clinic. Now I will confess - I had been extremely stressed and anxious about this whole thing but heading over I was much calmer than I thought.

The Dr called me in to explain what they would do.  Firstly they put several injections in with dye; in the breast with the tumour they inject straight into it, and on the other breast they inject under the nipple. 
After that she then informed me that I would have to massage my breasts for about 10 mins to move the dye through the pathways to locate the nodes and then they take images of the nodes and mark them on my breasts so they can locate them in surgery. 

Guess which bit hurt the most??

Without going into too much detail the injections into the tumour were fine but the ones under the nipple were awful. The Dr said that I was allowed to swear in any language. I chose English and my word for the day was f*ck. No surprises there. M did offer French but merde just doesn't have the same ring to it.

And I did cry.  From the pain, from the invasion of my body and for the sheer bloody unfairness of it all. M cried with me and stroked my hand and was just there for me. 

The Dr was very kind and caring - well of course she was, she was a mother. Who needed to take calls from her 11 year old son who was home on his own sick. Ah mother guilt.

I then had to start the 10 min massage of the breasts. At this point M had to leave and N my next support person arrived.  So there I was massaging my breasts. I tried not to think about the fact that after tomorrow I would not have them.( and  that I would rather have Ducatilad do this for me). N did offer to take over as I began to tire and did  quite good a good job. Now that is what I call a good friend.

Finally they are well massaged and  ready to take the images. The most uncomfortable part of the imaging is having to hold your arms at 90 degrees for long stretches. They managed to locate the sentinel node in my right (non cancer breast)  but could not do so on the left.  This was predicted due to the previous surgery and radiotherapy. The surgeon will attempt to do it during the surgery and if not then I think they will take the rest of the nodes. 

N did an amazing job of talking me through the imaging and letting me know how much time was left.
They did say that it was safe for her to be in the room - really hope that is true.

Finally at 3 we were free to go. With plasters on each breast and purple x's on my right breast, having been supported by members of my sisterhood.

I arrived home completely finished waiting for Ducatilad to arrive from the airport.

He walked through the door about 15 mins later ( I did manage to get a quick vaccuum of the floor in before) - he enveloped me and I felt safe. 

It is now 11:56 the night before my operation and I fear a frenetic urge coming on. My way of dealing with stress. So I am again pounding the keyboard late at night trying to get this finished

We picked S, my daughter up, from the airport and brought her home. I am glad she is here. There have been some tears, lots of hugs and her final farewell to my breasts, which included a   a rather reverant  touching of them and an acknowledgement of the role they played in giving her life.

Through of all this N, the HSC boy, has been in his room working on his major Visual Arts work that is due in on Friday. He deals with it in his own way - like asking me if I get to keep the tumour after, and what would happen if you ate it. As I kissed him goodnight he declared that he was quite happy to say goodbye to my breasts from afar. (probably the appropriate thing to do)

My bag is packed - underpants, singlets, button through pj's - no bras.

I feel detached, still in that parallel universe. I have no idea how I am going to feel when I wake up and process what has happened.

I feel that this posting really needs some sort of profound ending but the words seem to elude me.

I truly feel so loved and treasured, and perhaps that is enough to protect me and give me the strength to just get on with it.

Breasts or no breasts - I am and always will be.......



  1. Loved and treasured doesn't even begin to cover it. I think it's time to start wearing your undies on the outside, because you're a true super hero xxx

  2. I will be thinking of you all day.

  3. and by the time I got to read this, it was night here, and daytime there and hopefully over, easy, as little pain as possible and done with love surrounding you.

  4. ...and I read this too late to be any comfort at all but it makes me so happy to know that the sisterhood is there for you.