Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Alright tits.

Before my reconstruction, I took a photo of my Old Tit. And, just now, despite it being covered in dressings, I took one of my New Tit, too. (If anyone steals my iPhone this week they're in for a surprise. I'm also being extra careful when uploading pics to Twitter, in case my thumb slips and the digital world suddenly gets an eyeful of my definitely NSFW bust.) Perhaps unusually, I want to keep a record of my tit's progress so that, once it's completed, I can remind myself of how it used to look and be incredibly grateful that I've got the pair I have. And what a pair they're going to be, given the revelation that my right boob will be getting a makeover, too.

'So, what do you think of it?' beamed a proud Smiley Surgeon, staring intently at my chest as I walked into his room for my post-op check-up. (I've become so used to people staring at my tits that I imagine I'm going to be quite offended when people out in the Real World speak to my face. How dare they.) Carefully avoiding my usual levels of goondom but inexplicably turning scouse in the process, I replied in an oddly high-pitched voice with, 'I'm made up, la!' (Okay, so I just added the 'la' for dramatic effect, but still. What. Is. My. Problem?) 'Oh-kaay,' he replied. 'Let's have a look,' gesturing to the bed behind the curtain. Always Right Cancer Nurse was on hand to remove my dressings and, for the first time since the sneaky look in my hospital bed, I got to see the full glory of my newly formed nupple. Not to mention the beautiful, perfectly round, A-listers-would-kill-for-it mound that it sat atop, like an especially delicious cherry bakewell or iced bun. For some reason, while SS prodded at my new boob and I looked on admiringly (at him and the New Tit), I couldn't help but think of the Generation Game. Because, believe me, if Brucie had handed you a lump of clay and a pottery wheel and given you 60 seconds to create a breast, this is what you'd have made. Although I dare say yours wouldn't have measured up to Smiley Surgeon's masterpiece. (Didn't he do well?)

Confirming what he'd suspected about struggling to match the projection of my right tit, SS explained that, in cases where there isn't a perfect symmetry with the other side, one in three women go on to have a filler implant in their healthy breast to even things out. For me it's a no brainer. Free boob job on the NHS? Um, yes please. Frankly, it'd be an unexpected, would-never-have-done-it-otherwise treat, being given the reward of perfect, perky, superstar tits. (Maybe then people will stop looking me in the face?) But that's all for later on down the line. For now there's still the business of Operation New Tit: Phase Two to contend with and, given that I've contracted a-n-o-t-h-e-r infection, this time in one of my wounds, it's going to have to be done a bit later than I'd have hoped while I sink yet more antibiotics and wait for it to heal. (To quote my fellow cancer blogger Jamie Ross, I've currently got 'the immune system of a small, HIV-positive insect'. Seriously, if you've got any bugs or viruses you'd like rid of, just hoof them over in an email, and that'll be more than enough contact for me to take them off your hands.)

Undoubtedly the sweetest part of my check-up, however, was watching SS's smiling face (P is convinced he only smiles for me, by the way, and that he's more Serious Surgeon with his other patients) as he explained that, mid-surgery, he'd had a 'good look around in there'. (That, flatteringly, makes my tit sound like Mary Poppins's handbag, when I'm sure that a 'good look around' my B-cup is actually tantamount to a 20-second shufty.) But he continued with a sentence that ended in those few little words that every girl dreams of hearing: '...no sign of cancer.' I'd been too afraid to ask him myself what he'd discovered while inside my boob, for fear of letting slip my vision of an Alien-style tumour bursting out and creating havoc in the operating theatre, so I was as pleased that he'd picked up on my unspoken worry as I was about the words he'd said. No. Sign. Of. Cancer. Forget 'cellar door', these are the most beautiful words in the English language.

But, beautiful as those words indeed are, hearing them was strangely unsettling. I didn't know what to say, plumping for a simple, 'Phew.' You'd think that hearing the words 'no sign of cancer' would have you doing backflips across the kitchen. And beside the fact that (a) it would hurt too much, (b) I can't do a backflip, and (c) even if I could, the size of our kitchen would mean me crashing into a wall mid-air, that's oddly not how you feel you ought to react. It's weirdly anticlimactic, which is a lesson you'd think I'd have learned by now, given the many stalling, false-finishes I've come to expect of The Bullshit. The mastectomy is over... but then there's the chemotherapy. Chemo is over... but then there's the radiotherapy. Radio is over... but then there's the reconstruction. Recon is over... but then there's the nipple-tattooing of Phase Two. Phase Two is over... but then there's the surgery on my right tit. Surgery is over... but then there's the five years of Tamoxifen. And so it goes. It just never fucking ends, does it? (And, having lived my life through a hurdle-jumping series of mini-goals like that, it's no wonder that I'm suddenly spending so much time catching up on all the shut-eye I was learning to live without. Remember when Jenny came back to Forrest Gump and 'slept and slept, like she hadn't slept in years'? I know how she felt.) So 'no sign of cancer' is admittedly unbeatable, but it also brings with it its fair share of worries. 

I worked myself up after recounting to my family and friends the words that SS had told me. Was I speaking too soon? Should I shut up about it? I thought I was healthy once before – was The Bullshit going to come back to bite me on the ass again? I hate raining on my own parade in this way. Because, fuck it, this is amazing news. Better than that. It's the best news in the history of the known world. But it's also just another false finish. 

It's all about semantics – something in which the medical world is deviously skilled. 'No sign of cancer' doesn't mean 'cancer free'. Once you've had cancer, there is no 'cancer free'. 'No sign of cancer' also doesn't mean 'no sign of cancer anywhere in your body'. It refers to a localised area. No medical professional would be idiot enough to tell someone that there was definitely no cancer in their body. The thing is, while there's isn't even a hint of a tumour in my left breast, nobody can say for sure whether or not there are any cancerous cells floating about the rest of me, just as nobody could say whether you had any, either. But since I've had reason to worry about this kind of stuff more than your average 29 year old, that's a thought that'll continue to put the shits up me. There's no getting around it – it's just something I'll have to learn to live with, like the regular check-ups and the six-monthly mammograms and the compromised immune system and the daily pill-popping.

I want to scream, 'I did it!' I want to tell people that I 'beat' breast cancer. I want to refer to it in the past tense. But bloody, sodding, know-all medical science dictates that I can never say that. As I've said before, there is no definite cure for breast cancer. There is no 'all clear'. And so you've got to be happy with second place on the podium. (Kind of how I felt after Derby lost to Leicester in the play-off final of 1994, and I've still not got over that.) That doesn't mean that there's nothing to celebrate, of course. The 'it' in 'I did it' just means something different, is all. It means that I've seen off six successful sessions of chemo, 28 successful sessions of radio, the first stage of a successful reconstruction, and that I'm successfully edging ever closer to leading a more normal life. And since we all know from bitter experience that not everyone gets to celebrate those kind of successes, I'm going to enjoy the moment as best I can. So, just this once, sod the medical community. I did it! I fucking did it!

15 comments:

Lori's Lens said...

Yes you did and you should be DAMN PROUD and celebrate. I think that security won't be there for a while..we're still nervous when Maarten has a CT scan...like you said, there's no guarentee's.

Be proud, celebrate and take your tit out for a ride or a drink. It, and you, deserve!

Nonamoose said...

Yes you did and I'm so happy for you that you did. You've done amazingly and I'm glad the new tit is measuring up (so to speak!) Scream it from the rooftops - we're in the present after all.

Go girl - you're amazing and brilliant and such an inspiration (although I'm sure you don't always feel like that)

Thinking of you x

Anonymous said...

One day you'll mention in passing a work colleague, someone who's known you reasonably well for a few months, that you had cancer. And they'll say "oh wow, I had no idea."

Then you'll realise that 'normal' started ages ago and you never even noticed.

Freudus said...

Yes indeed. A (cautious, sensible, deeply scientific) fucking massive slow-motion high five to you. Truly great news. Can't wait to see you in Cornwall. mxx

Kirses said...

Congratulations.

Great comment from anonymous above

SB said...

I love that comment from Anon. It's great. Although not as much as we all love you- in this context I am referring to myself, JB, C and F although I'm sure it could mean many, many, more people than that. Miss you lots. Can't wait to catch up soon. Well done, girl! Loves xxxxx

TH said...

I promise I will never, ever look you in the face again. It's all about the a-list knockers from here in.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

Oh - what about the person who ignored you when you went into work. Could you not trot past them wearing the most eye poking wonderbra available?
Bravo!

Kirsty said...

Am so proud of you..
Of course you deserve to celebrate. Go out and show off your shiny new ring along with your wonderful new tit.
Kirsty x

gemmak said...

Yes...you fucking did it girl and good on you...be proud, very proud! :o))

bjtp said...

YAY FOR YOU! That's really awesome, and I am uber jealous of your soon-to-be fabulous A-star breasts! :D

Also, thanks for the link to the 'Cellar Door' page. I had only ever heard the term in Donnie Darko, and din't know that Tolkien was the first one to coin the phrase (I'm a huge Tolkien geek, so this was a big deal for me, ok?!).

At least the hurdles you have in front of you are infinitely smaller than those you have already conquered. :)

Ant said...

You did it! Many times over in fact. Every chemo and radio was a victory on the way to victory. Now can I just comment on how your spoddy sub-ist knowledge never ceases to amaze me? Your off-the-cuff literary references, such as 'cellar door', plus the fact that I happen to know you went to a rough and tough school where the staff got you to teach the other kids during breaktime...I mean, fuck it, you're an odd one - there's no one like you in the world and don't you forget it. p.s. I cannot WAIT to see your tits

Anonymous said...

Yeah baby... you fucking did it! Knock yourself out cos shit me sideways you deserve a bit of celebration in the nation!

2 blog points to mention if i may.

First off... "The mastectomy is over... but then there's the chemotherapy" sounds like it could be a Fall Out Boy song title. God knows why i think this but they came on my ipod shuffle mode thing as i was reading this part. Sod the book, we'll write this song over easter weekend in prep for the crimbo number one we have always aspired to.

Secondly... please refrain from referring the play-off final defeat to Leicster in all future blog posts.

Thirdly, and i know i only said two blog points but what the hey. For the record this has been my favouritist blog post so far. Thanks for being the most shit hot sister this side of the mississippi (and the other side for that matter). I can't even bring myself to take the piss out of you on this occasion (I shall endeavour to get back on piss taking form in the very near future).

Love you, with or without the bull-de-la-shit. Very very very very glad i'm loving you without it though!!!

Big time love from Big Bro.

Leslie said...

There is no "cured" but you will find lots of solace in "Cancer Free" (as in Clinically and Radiologically Cancer Free - Cardf or No Sign Of Cancer.) You will.
And your bro is right.

Enjoy the news tit(s)! Make the most of 'em. You earned them....

Butterfly-Crafts said...

You have come so far already, you need to allow yourself to celebrate. x