Mind the Gap between Diagnostics and Surgery

The knock of the knot – A Breast Cancer Blog with Lacanian Angles Curves

 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.

run girl 3b run girl run britania yoga

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!

2 reasons for 2

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.http://www.drugs.com/mcp/breast-biopsy#Image_What_you_can_expect  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.






The knock of the Borromean ‘K’notter

The knock of the knot & the not of the knocker

Breast Cancer with Lacanian Angles
The symptom occurs where the real, imaginary, and symbolic overlap.
When the symbolic is shifted in the direction of the real, we get the symptom.
When the real is shifted in the direction of the imaginary, we get anxiety.
When the imaginary is shifted in the direction of the symbolic, we get inhibition.
Lacan posited this was in relation to psychoanalysis but over time it has become a way to examine society as well.

Preamble and ID – Who am I?

To understand my title a back-story is necessary to reveal the front story. This will help to place the reader in my shoes, or indeed, in my under-things and even closer to my heart. Whilst running shoes and bras support (the) girls on their journey they also help to set the tone and pave the way to where this tome is going!

Me? I’m pushing a half century in work, wisdom and lexicon. If sliced like a tree you may see my rings and count them at leisure, if you had the time! Yet with thirty years of dedication to healthy living and life long learning the results are better than my teenage self would ever have envisaged. Seriously those teen years can be so shackling, imprisoning. After years of feeling the dreary drudgery of sub-par fitness it turned around. From my mid twenties to mid thirties I became a swimmer, devoutly lapping through the local pool or those beloved icy white waters of Aragon or the balmy waves of the seas in northern Catalunya. Infinity PoolOnce settled in the Iberian Peninsula, I’d left the sloth-life of university long behind, gnawed through the chrysalis and spread my wings. It took four years and a lot of failure to give up chocolate and a few other bad habits picked up as an independent twenty-something. By contrast living a Mediterranean lifestyle a natural diet was simple to adopt, a no-brainer,  a non-negotiable. Not forgetting that for more than half the year flesh is not tucked under mcdonaldsjumpers but on full view. Picture this: in those days before the fall of the Berlin Wall, before common currency, our wages were paid in pesetas.  The wave of consummerist choice had not begun its ebb and flow. Unsurprisingly  neither flavoured crisps, nor Cadbury’s, nor fast food chains had arrived. Expats filled their UK bags with Baked Beans and antiperspirant and picked peaches from the trees without a care.

With total will power (alongside a growing realisation that action comes before motivation) my stamina increased and I gradually whittled and honed to produce a svelte silhouette that led me to embrace the benefits of running.  As a ‘lollipop’ shape, a term coined by Trinny and Suzanna, it is a total myth that one sports bra suffices.

Two Sports Bras

To ensure zero movement two sports bras are essential.  But at least we can thank technology for a decent though expensive selection to hold the girls in, up or down, depending on the occasion. Perhaps, the artificial creation of a 30GG bust is a scopic jouissance rather than a tactile pleasure? With no hips to balance things out, joking school friends expected me to sway with such forward weight. Running, alongside its benefits, brings its own ailments. Osteopathy and sports stretching became part of a body maintenance regime. In my early forties I discovered yoga, which has its own anatomical hurdles to navigate. Not too many forward bends and sun salutations please! Nor whilst I ponder, are the upside-down poses easy to breathe into! Yoga has been amazing for toning lateral abs and arms.  Side plank is heaven.


Suffocating in downdog


So you get the picture, the body in this story is 100% natural. This has not been achieved without a routine nor plenty of fuel. Enjoying foods especially nuts and cake, without guilt, without greed and with heaps of healthy organic greens! If I have a toxic sin it’s the controversial abuse of bottled water.


I should drink tap water!

A habit of imbibing phylates for the last twenty years as opposed to becoming dehydrated and suffering tremendous headaches. Yes the daily litre and a half of water has cured most of my migraines. Whatsmore I can’t drink it cold from the fridge. Yep a self confessed luke warm water guzzler.

These writings have been a long time coming. Strange that facing a diagnosis of breast cancer has become the catalyst as I divulge the ups and downs of my journey. Perhaps as my view of the world is revealed it will be clear that I am a Lacanian, albeit still in the larval stage. Devouring his work in an attempt to find reason. The bends of my twisting mind work with metaphor, metonymy, onomatopoeia and lateral thinking. I craft links that traverse a world of personal signifiers that may resound with others, whilst allowing me to both enjoy and despise my symptom.

The Symptom –  What is your symptom?
Clearly my present medical symptoms are transcendent, who could have predicted this recent transition from being a lively carefree mare to a suddenly aging patient. A patient now sporting a monthly calendar speckled with future appointments, treatments and emotions. Beyond that my Lacanian symptom is a lifetime of understanding that one foot always remains in the gap. Whatever good karma is summoned the human condition forever drags the world behind it like a shadow.  Every gaze is a moment lost.

Mind the Gap

Since forever, I’ve looked into the eyes of mortality and wondered what the hell it is all about and I can’t let that question go. Daily I look into the mouth of time and shiver at what it means. Fear, excitement and unfairness, the ephemerality of life has always been present to me. Emotion beauty and bewilderment are everywhere. Leaving the now behind and moving forward into the future causes a hankering and nostalgia that is palpable. It always has. Even as a twelve year old regressing across my own short life-time to a familiar building with dusty red Victorian bricks, damp walls and an abundance of old hardbacked books crammed in vertical piles. Or cycling though parkland with the comforting sameness of welcoming ever greens and grassy hillocks. Breathing in seasonal changes whilst the world fundamentally remains the same year after year, whilst also expecting the next thing on the plate of life. A wait which creates an unfightable anxiety of anticipation. Fear as the anticipation of change can only be kept at bay by being busy. What can one Desire next? Routine or surprise? Certainly going to work fills the void. Does that sound familiar? Well that is the symptom for me. Chasing life and simultaneously running away from the changes it leaves. Fear of the unknown, of being uprooted, of losing everything familiar. Whilst holding tightly to the now and the past it’s anchored by.

A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

To an extent fighting cultural growth in a push-me pull-you of wanting to stay still. Some of these waves are expressed vividly in A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. The monster being all the unknowns we face with change and loss. Even the loss of today to face tomorrow. The instant loss of now and the nostalgia of then.

(Not for the ‘feint’ hearted – despite being a children’s book).