I have just returned from a double-appointment at Reading Hospital.
My last three treatments next week will be directed towards my surgery scar. In the second appointment this afternoon, a doctor measured the scar and made a lot of marks on me which a nurse then traced.
On the way back to the waiting room area to change out of the hospital's green gown, I spotted a lady and her husband I met during chemotherapy.
I hadn't seen them for a couple of months; I sat down so that we could catch up.
After an hour, I was still there, nattering away with this couple, still in my green gown, just steps away from the changing booth.
One of the radiographers walked over to me; she had a long face.
I smiled, knowing what this was about asked, "are you here to ask why I am still here?"
I said, "I'm chatting" and grinned again.
She explained that she'd seen me still sitting there and was worried I hadn't had my treatment yet. She had gone to give the other radiographers a bollocking (my word, not hers) for keeping me waiting. When she heard that I'd been treated three hours ago, someone suggested that maybe I didn't know I could leave yet. Hehe.
I knew that this is what she was coming over for as it's the third time it's happened, that is, a nurse has check I've been seen after I've stayed after my appointment to continue to chat with people.
Making the most of it
I've been thinking a lot about how I'll feel after radiotherapy, prompted by the Macmillan booklet which mentioned that some people feel abandoned when others would expect relief at the end of treatment.
I realised that, for the last eight months, I've had people look after me, be kind to me. I've had places to go and appointments to keep. My friends and family have been thinking about me or attending to me.
I've had scores of people to chat to in waiting rooms, sometimes grateful that appointments are running behind, as it is just more time to share stories.
I realised today that I will miss it.
I will miss all the caring attention from nurses and the purposefulness of treatment once radiotherapy is over.
I think that I hang about so long this afternoon, chatting, so that I could squeeze the last drop of positive experience out of it.
Physical treatment (not counting daily hormone therapy pills) will be over but I will be entering a new phase of change and the unknown.
We had very little project work this year and so we're returning to contract work. Frank started a contract on Monday and I'll be looking to start a contract from 18 October, 10 days after my last radiotherapy, when the tiredness should ease off (or for a part-time week from 11 October).
This means a whole new set of things to think about, such as commuting, working in an office again and people - meeting new people - great!
Even though having to go back into contracting marks a very difficult year financially, I am very glad that it'll give me something else to think about. We always knew we could go back to contracting; other people aren't so fortunate.
Tomorrow I'm having lunch with another lady I met during chemotherapy. We swapped numbers when waiting for our pre-chemo blood tests. I haven't seen her since then. She's only finished chemo next month and will start radiotherapy in November.
I found something out today that seems to be yet another positive aspect to my cancer experience.
I spent about half an hour talking to someone in another waiting room this afternoon (the husband of a woman who was having her first planning appointment).
Her tumour was about half a centimetre larger than mine but she has chemotherapy BEFORE surgery in order to shrink the tumour.
He said they were told that, because she was quite small-chested, that it would have been difficult to perform a lumpectomy as they'd have to take too much away, relatively speaking. If that is true, it means that my big-chestedness - the years of embarrassment, always avoiding communal changing rooms - actually contributed to less aggressive treatment.