The knock of the knot – A Breast Cancer Blog with Lacanian
Cancer Tests…Patience! Warrior or Worrier?
Who knows the depths of this rabbit hole? When will the falling stop? We came away with the diagnosis of IDC Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. “Cancer Patient” what an earth does one do with that title? What a hot potato! The recent history of vitamin D deficiencies and femur pain alerted the specialists to arrange a full body CT scan and MRi, the results of which would be known before surgery. In the meantime celebrations were in order for remaining whole. It seemed appropriate to run the first of the month 10K. Who knew how the surgery and treatment would alter my running ability. My breasts, my lungs, my thorax and my general ability to be me.
The run was steady and just over the hour. My PB stands at 54 minutes but that was several years ago and before the Half Marathon Training. My times had become slower after learning to run over longer distances. My Barcelona Half Marathon Time (la Mitja Marató) was two hours and seven minutes. Considering all that had happened throughout August I was not going to beat myself up with some ‘self-flagellation’ for taking a few extra minutes on such an amazingly sunny day. Running in London in a crop top at 48, who wouldn’t scream “Carpe Diem” and take a few snaps. What’s wrong with being a self voyeuring narcissist! In fact why hadn’t pictures been taken more frequently! Notice the word “pictures” not “selfies”. Perhaps because a body is taken for granted on the day-to-day and no-one expects alterations to come out of the blue.Who ever expects a personal Frankenstein to step into their lives? In fact who wonders if they will become the next wretched monster. With the zing of post- biopsy nerve pain easing, to run was bliss.
My preferred sports’ bras are both Royce and Shock Absorber. I combine but tend always to wear two bras if I want to go under the radar. The visible jiggle, joggle, jug-gle is both discomforting for me and distracting for onlookers. Not to mention damaging for the jugs in the frame! Mine are still pretty pert – two sports bras, see! We don’t wish for casualties!
The knock had come as a warning to wise up, chivvy and prepare for an impending change. Atishoo, atisshoo, pass me a tissue as self indulgent tears are welling, not of pain but of fear and impotence. Dates are marked on the calendar as time slows whilst smiling like a super-trouper to keep up the formal normalcy of each working week. September 7th and it’s time for the bone scan. Why oh why do my veins vanish when shiny needles appear. Of course it was impossible to put the cannula in the crook of my arm. Deep veins, narrow veins, delicate veins, I’ve heard it all. So the tube was plugged into one of the bulbous veins in the transparent skin upon the back of my bony hand. Ouchy. Stripped into the hospital robe I lay upon the machine as the nurses fled for cover in their little bunker. Once switched on, a burning hot sensation seeped into my hand as the radioactive liquid rushed into my body. It was burny. I called out in case that was unusual. My voice was swallowed by emptiness as no-one replied. Silently, eyes closed the machine whirred. It’s drone-like shadow inches from my face. It’s metallic greyness leaving a cybernetic taste upon my lips. In a different life those mineral atoms and molecules may have become a mountain bike or a child’s scooter and these living cells of mine may have had a reprise: no hawk-eyed nurse, with hours of CPD training would have noticed tell tale signs of cells showing suspicion of malignancy. Who is this person being scanned for cancer?
Some days after the whole body bone scan came the breast MRi. Wearing two medical gowns the specialist eyed my veins which once again hid away, having to be coaxed into action from the dark bruises on the back of my hand. A cannula was attached and a cold dye injected in order to achieve clear images once the machine was activated. Despite waiting some time before my turn came, no-one had explained the postures required. A slight confusion and sense of humiliation and impotence flooded over me as I was asked to mount the machine on all fours. I felt incompetent like a child and emotion chugged hot behind my eyes. Clambering upon my hands and knees I lurched my stomach forward lizard-like, before lowering these pendulous dugs into the hollow depressions within the scanner. How ungraceful. The clinician adjusted my chin on a padded rest and fiddled with the side openings where my body dangled. If only I had seen a photo of the machine and ungraceful posturing then maybe the sting of salt would have been prevented. It was tolerable and over in a flash but those moments of confusion had left a heave of sadness and desolation. On September 11th the results came through to confirm that things were as before, no worse, no better, although the lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy would bring the final judgement by determining if the lymph nodes were clear. All that was left was to wait for the date of surgery. Breathing into these events my hope was to maintain a modicum of normality.