Two weeks ago to the day I was full of nervous energy, ready (well sort of) to face the next step of my cancer journey head on. After all, what other choice did I have.
People around me are very kind and tell me I am ‘brave’, ‘strong’ – which is all very encouraging to hear – but sometimes I feel that they are overestimating me, while also understimating themselves.
I genuinely hope they never have to find out – but they too would be brave and strong in this situation because most of them have children, of varying ages, or others in their lives they need to fight for and fight to stay with for many, many years to come.
As I tried to control a relatively uncontrollable situation the day before my mastectomy, I dragged my poor cousin Louise, who had come all the way from Queensland to help me through this rugged time, around a shopping centre trying to find the perfect button-up shirt.
I had spent the past few months searching online for the perfect pair of pyjamas to wear for my hospital stay. I found them. So my focus shifted to a shirt – after all, in my irrational mind, it was another thing to take my thinking briefly away from the fact I was having surgery and being out to sleep with a general anaesthetic for the very first time in my life.
I left the shops empty handed. Funnily enough I couldn’t find that perfect shirt that people who have had a mastectomy need to wear home from hospital.
We went out for dinner that night, some wine and a sushi train distracted me a bit longer.
Everyone went to bed, I fidgeted around, packed and re-packed my hospital bag. Before I knew it the alarm was beeping at 6.15am and we were all getting ready to march into the day.
The kids headed to a friend’s house where breakfast pancakes were awaiting them, while me, Ross and Louise started a rather long, slow day in hospital waiting for hour after hour until the lovely two orderlies came to collect me.
The anaesthetist gave me some pre-meds at about 1pm and they worked – I was asleep when they came to wheel me down to theatre.
Anyone who had had surgery knows what happened next. They put a warm blanket on me, took me into theatre where it was like a small working city with nurses, doctors etc in blue gowns busy in their dedicated area of the theatre and then I wiggled onto the rather slimline, cold operating table.
The next thing, and the last thing, I heard was the anaesthetist saying ‘This is the stingy bit’. Next thing I know I woke up briefly in recovery with a nurse standing over me telling me it was all over.
Then somehow I got to my hospital room and woke up about 6.15pm with an oxygen mask and Louise standing there waiting for me. Ross had gone to pick the kids up and we had decided not to bring them in to see me until the day after surgery – I didn’t know how I was going to feel!
They came in the next day and I couldn’t have been happier to see their little faces.
I had plenty of visitors and people checking I was ok – the amazing support continued!
Two weeks later and that’s still the case – dinners, flowers, gifts – we’ve been spoilt by it all.
Recovery is going well. Ross has taken holidays from his job just so he can do mine – the joys of being a contract worker!
My independence is coming back and the surgeon is so far happy with how the surgery went. Next up is radiotherapy and reconstructive surgery. Feels like a never ending story but we are working our way through the chapters!