Wednesday, 10 September 2008

The Fortune Teller .....

At 4 O'clock yesterday afternoon, I went to visit the surgeon who had removed the tumour from my right breast, and the associated lymph nodes. It had been a full week since the operation, and I have to say I was more than ready to hear the full diagnosis. I had been feeling as if I was a refugee in some alien hinterland that I didn't recognise and when I sought direction from my internal compass to navigate my way back to more comfortable waters, it just span around and around, hopelessly seeking answers that disappeared like mirages every time I approached too closely. I think the past week has been one of the most uncomfortable journeys I have ever been on. Totally lost and disorientated in a familiar landscape.

We waited in the now familiar Waiting Area and watched as Couples, Daughters and Mothers, and occasionally a woman on her own, left the Clinic having had their fortunes told. No words were necessary to understand their destiny; the smiles that lit up faces or quiet tears of despair said everything the onlooker needed to know. You couldn't help but be moved by them, and I couldn't help wonder which I would be. My Husband saw me watching and clasped my hand tightly, his eyes reflecting the fear of the unknown visible in my own.

A Breast Care Nurse(BCN) called us in, and we went into a Consulting room. I was asked to go behind the curtains, undress and pop onto the couch; Miss Stebbing would be in shortly. While we waited, the BCN smartly removed the dressings that had hidden the wounds from a week earlier. I knew I was bruised, I had seen the yellow and purple mosaic spreading out in all directions when I bathed, but I hadn't quite prepared myself for how large the incisions were and was a bit surprised by what I saw. My husband's reaction to it later when we had a proper look in the privacy of home was ' Zoë fought the Tiger and the Tiger won'.

Miss Stebbing came in, and examined her handy work, and I have to admit, despite the initial shock, I had to agree with her that it all looked remarkably healthy, was healing well and was very neat; you can't see a stitch mark, despite there being 2 wounds, one 3 inches and the other 6 inches long. Happy with her work she told me to dress and come and sit down again. It was a joy not to have the dressings on, and as the nurse helped me do up the monstrosity bra, I couldn't help but wonder how long it would be before I could wear something less utilitarian again.

I sat down next to himself, and waited with butterflies racing around my stomach and my heart in my mouth. The last time I had sat in this chair, Miss Stebbing had told me it was 'bad news'; that I had Breast Cancer. What was she going to tell me today? She smiled. I knew the news would be good, and she started to explain what the future held. Mercifully, they hadn't found any cancer cells in the lymph nodes they had sampled, and from that they were confident there had been no spread. The tumour itself in the scheme of these things was small, and all the margins of the tissue they had removed was also clear of any cancer cells, which meant she was confident that they had removed it all; the threat of more surgery was gone. It also means that I don't have to suffer the effects of Chemotherapy, that I can continue as she initially predicted, and take Tamoxifen for the next 5 years, which is a hormone cancer therapy appropriate to the type of cancer they found in me, and Radiotherapy once the wounds are well healed.

I should start on the Tamoxifen today; my GP will phone to let me know when the prescription is ready, and I may throw all care to the wind and walk the mile into the village to collect it. I still haven't driven yet, as the area is still sore, and I don't want to push my luck and endanger other road users because of a wonky arm. I will see an Oncologist next week to discuss the follow on treatment from the surgery, Radiotherapy, and arrange when that will start and for how long.; the hospital will phone and tell me which day at sometime today. Miss Stebbing thinks 25 visits should do the trick, going along on every weekday to the Unit in Southampton for 5 weeks. That in itself is going to be quite a feat as it is an 80 mile round trip.

So it's Champagne all round! Here's a toast to you all who sent me messages of support and encouragement, kind thoughts and positive vibes; they really made a difference. XX


Lucy Corrander said...

Oh! This is such good reading. Hurray!

And reading it was as suspenseful as a thriller or science fiction tale and I was hoping that the way you have written it so well and so fluently was as much a sign as the smiles of the women coming away with their good fortune being told.

But the journey isn't finished yet - I hope the rest of it goes smoothly.

And, once again HUURAH!

(Or was it 'hurray'?)

(And what's the difference anyway?)


P.S. Hurr . . . something

Julia said...

Oh that is brilliant news! I am so happy to read this. The best possible outcome, and I suspect more than you had dared hope for. I'm sure the next month will still be tough, on the Tamoxifen and radiotherapy, and hope you will continue to talk about your experiences here.

I shall dedicate tonight's margarita to you!

Esther Montgomery said...

Don't tell anyone I was here - but I had to say how glad I am to read your news . . . risked a visit from Mars to say so.


Pondside said...

HIP HIP HOORAY!!!! I am so happy for you, Zoe. This is the very best news you could have received, and I could almost feel your relief.
Be good to yourself now, and continue to heal gently. Lacey bras are just around the corner.

bodran... said...

Brilliant And fugger the driving and walking into town .Take it easy.

Milla said...

Extremely pleased to read this news, Zoe. And I just love the way you've written it. Enjoy real life again.

Magic Cochin said...

A big big hug from me Zoe! Take it easy even though you want to skip and dance! And be kind and patient with yourself through the radio therapy.

I hope the sun's out as it is here and you can share your optimism for the future with your garden.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely wonderful news. What a huge relief for you.

Take care,
CJ xx

Frances said...

Zoe, I am thrilled to read your news! Have to admit your words made me smill, too, but as I now write, it's with a tear in my eye.
(Always tend to cry a bit at emotional times!)

Best wishes to you on the rest of this journey ... wonderful that you will walk to town.

Once again, may I say how beautifully you write.


mootia said...

Soooo glad that they caught it early enough - what a relief for you...take it easy, Zoe xx

Ivy said...

GREAT news take it easy and be kind to yourself.xquw

Tattie Weasle said...

Fabulous news - now take care of yourself and take the opportunity to listen to all your favourite CDs/radio programs etc on the journey to Southampton a positive frame of mind really helps the healing and beats that B****y C!
All love Tattie

Inthemud said...

Oh Zoe! That is SUCH GOOD NEWS!! Sounds very similar to my situation.
Such a relief.

I'll share a glass of bubbly with you now!!

Lots of Love
Elaine XX

Angel said...

What a relief for you. THat is so good to read.

I mentioned in one of my posts to you about my best friend who sounds like she is a week or two behind you in her journey.
She has had the results today which confirm the 'bad news' it is cancer. She goes in Monday for lump and glands etc removing.
I was with her last night and everything you put in your blog rings the same for her.

I pray that her outcome will be as successful as yours and send you best wishes to continue your journey in good health. Keep positive, strong and looking after yourself.

and try and have a more peaceful nights sleep...that is the thing she is finding the hardest.


Exmoorjane said...

HURRAY!!!!! I read this with my heart in my mouth and barely dared hope.... Fantastic news... I am so so SO thrilled.
Margareta? Who said that? What a fabulous idea....
BIG relief from Exmoor. Janexxxx

Preseli Mags said...

Great news. Enjoy the champagne (and have loads more positive vibes too, as they seem to be doing such good work). Very best wishes, xx Mags.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Berludy brilliant Zoë - bout time things eased up on you.

Love and Hugs


mountainear said...

Zoë, that is the most fantastic news - I am delighted for you and your family. 5 weeks to and fro-ing to Southampton will pass in a flash. Travel hopefully.

All best wishes, F.

Wooly Works said...

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!!!

Great news, Zoe. Great, terrific, astounding and amazing news!! Foregoing the chemo is always good. Be sure and schedule plenty of time for rest and recuperation once you start the radiotherapy. It does tax the system, but I'm confident that you'll come through it famously. Congratulations and a big sigh of relief all around.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Keep smiling Zoe!
Take care.


I am so sorry Zoe we have been away all summer more or less and I had no idea of your terrible traumas. I am so relieved to hear that all is, relativley speaking , well and that you have managed to face it all with grace and humour not to mention writing it all up so eloquently. I hope all goes well for the future and that you continue to do well.

Elizabethd said...

Zoe, so very pleased for you.

Withy Brook said...

Thank the good Lord for that news, Zoë. Don't go over-doing it in your relief and pleasure - take great care of yourself - you deserve it. Don't know what effect radiothereapy has on one, except that it is much better than chemo. What a joy it will be for you when the 5 weeks are over - something very much to look forward to - no more long trips a day. My thoughts, love and prayers are still with you. Withy

Cait O'Connor said...

Fantastic news Zoe, I am so pleased for you.

Niels Plougmann said...

So happy to read the good news! I remember telling you that IMO surgery is the best option and what I have seen work best during the years I worked as a doctor. Hope it was not too harsh when I told you that. I really admire you for the way you have handled this - the tiger did not get you - you became one. Big Hug from Me. Look Up to the skies this sunday at 1 PM and I will be waving down from the plane leaving Heathtrow Airport heading for Chicago :-)))

CAMILLA said...

Oh Zoe, can't tell you how thrilled I am for you, wonderful news. Crack open that bottle me thinks Zoe.

The good news must be such a relief for you, take care.

You write so beautifully.

Love and Hugs,

VP said...

Zoe - that's such good news. Still quite a journey, but a much smoother one.

I'll still be here cheering you from the sideleines :)

Pili pala said...

What a relief for all of you. Keep being kind to yourself Zoe. I'm sure both you and your hubby will sleep well tonight. XX

elizabethm said...

O Zoe, I can't tell you how pleased I am to read this! Just wonderful news. And, for anyone else reading this, Zoe is the sort of woman who has sent me a birthday card while going through all this and we haven't even met! You are one special person, Zoe.

Fern said...

Fantastic news Zoe, I am so pleased for you. Very Best wishes for a speed return to full health.

@themill said...

Great news Zoe. Enjoy life and take care of You. x

Grouse said...

I dont know whether this was luck, or your own early warning system that made you take that test when you did......but this is wonderful news. And now your 'little bird'. can throw herself into Uni life knowing all is well at home.