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On and on

Since I first discovered the lump, I have always been waiting for something or other.

For the screenings, for their results, for surgery, for its results.

And now for chemo.

Tomorrow the weeks of waiting will transform into months of enduring.

I realised that waiting had become a full-time activity; one can seemingly get on with one's life but really, it's just treading water - lost in a limbo - waiting for the next appointment which might change, yet again, my life's path.

Showing appreciation

I know that the nurses and doctors are "just doing their job" but, when they are dealing with people's dignity, let alone their lives, I can't help but appreciate a job well done.

They made my life comfortable - saved my life, even - through their skill; it seems appropriate that I show my appreciation using my own skill, through my jewellery.

Chapter 6: The Oncologist

This morning Frank and I went to see the oncologist - a doctor who specialises in cancer - to find out about my treatment.

My appointment was for 10:50am but the Breast Care Nurse that we'd seen at the post-surgery results last week said that Tuesdays were very busy and that, even if we arrived late, we'd be waiting for them, not them for us.

Chapter 5: Best news ever

This morning I had an appointment at the breast cancer clinic in Windsor to remove my dressing and to find out the tissue results from surgery, two weeks ago.

The results would determine whether I would need further surgery and whether my cancer is likely to have spread.

I have a lump where my lump was

So, nine days ago I had a 27mm lump and some lymph nodes removed from the left side of my left breast.


With no ill-effects from the anaesthetic, no surgery pain (except the sharp tugging of skin by the dressing) and no restriction in movement, it crossed my mind more than once that it was a conspiracy, that I hadn't actually had any surgery.

Chapter 4: Getting the biopsy result

Frank had previously bought a ticket to go see the Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Opera House because he loved Prokofiev's music for the ballet.

When we realised that the appointment for the biopsy result was for the next day, I told Frank that he should still go to the ballet, that I didn't need him to hang around at home with me and that I'd rent some films.

Chapter 3b: Scans and biopsy

At the breast diagnostic clinic, I was ushered down a corridor into a room on the right. The corridor ended in a tiny room in which a dark-blue-uniformed woman sat, facing scans mounted on a back-lit wall.

She smiled feebly to me; it must be grim having to analyse a series of tumour scans and imagining the impact on the faceless women whose scans they were.

Back home and feeling dandy

I got back home around 7:30pm from my lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy today.

I cannot believe how amazingly easy the afternoon has gone and how well I feel.

The nurses on the short-stay ward at Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot are so lovely.

I tried to chat with all of them and collected origins: I had a Hungarian anaesthetist, and sweet nurses from Goa, Delhi and Ghana.

I have been thinking that I will make and send them some earrings as a thank-you (healthier than chocolates and they last longer!).

Chapter 3a: First clinic appointment

I was surprised to realise that I felt short-tempered the morning of my appointment at the breast diagnostic clinic.

After bickering with Frank, I apologised and explained I was feeling angry. After this it was manageable.

In the car on the way I started writing notes in case this was going to turn into something big and I would later want to document how I felt.

Right hand, meet the left hand

CEEFAX, the BBC's teletext service, today has a news story about hospital closures before a story about building new hospitals. I’m not sure what's worse to explain what’s happening with hospitals here - incompetence or a scam.