‘I have NEVER seen you like that,’ huffed P as we pulled away from the hospital following our last appointment with Smiley Surgeon.
‘You haaaave,’ I chirped confidently. (A rather misplaced confidence, given the masterclass in goondom I’d just performed in my surgeon’s office.)
‘Why do you go all high-pitched?’ he quizzed, now mimicking my tone. ‘You’re all “Hi! I’m Lisa Lynch! I’m friendly and cheerful! Please love me!” And all in that weird voice you do.’
‘Fuck off,’ I spat, in an altogether lower octave.
‘Seriously though, babe, you’re a proper goof.’
‘I can’t help it!’ I squealed. ‘Honestly! I sit in that waiting room giving myself little pep-talks before every appointment. “Don’t do it this time, Lis. Play it cool, Lis. Act normal, Lis.” But when I get in there it all turns to shit. I literally have no control over it. It’s chemical.’
P continued to skit me. ‘And all that stuff about The Curly Professor. “Ooh, and he told me to pass on his regards, and to tell you that you’ve done a really excellent job!” I mean, come on, woman.’
‘But he did say that!’ I protested.
‘I know he did. But it’s the way you say it. You’re such a massive fucking suck-up.’
‘Oh, just… sod off,’ I sulked, as P near pissed himself laughing.
At the risk of making excuses for myself when I ought to be waving a giant white flag, I do think that there was a bloody good reason for my added goondom this time. A couple of bloody good reasons, in fact.
For one, Smiley Surgeon didn’t just agree with The Curly Professor’s prophylactic-mastectomy-and-oophorectomy advice, but went one – nay, two – better by suggesting that they could both be done this autumn (this autumn!) and – crucially – at the same time (the same time!). And after hearing that, of course, I damn near crawled across his desk and hugged the glasses clean off his face.
My second goon-excuse, though, is that this was the appointment during which I was to give Smiley Surgeon – as I’d promised the last time I saw him – an early copy of my book. (Which, by the way, is out in two weeks and available to pre-order from all good online retailers. *double thumbs up*) And so, despite the gravity of the stuff we were talking about in our consultation, the high-pitched voice in my head persisted in reminding me about the gift I had to give him all the way through our session.
‘You mustn’t forget the book!’ the voice chided as Smiley Surgeon examined my bothersome boobs.
‘But don’t make a massive deal of it!’ it pestered as he declared that he’d be able to preserve my right nipple. (Preserve my nipple! Actually, make that goon-excuse #3.)
‘And don’t mention that he’s in it!’ it nagged as he made me aware of the small yet positive impact that preventative surgery could have on my life expectancy.
‘Just slide it across the desk and be outta here!’ it teased as he promised to refer me to a gynaecological surgeon to discuss the details of my oophorectomy.
And then it was my turn.
‘So does that answer all your questions?’ Smiley Surgeon asked after talking me through everything I needed to know.
‘I think so, yep,’ I said, doing what I could to talk above my inner voice. ‘So I guess I’ll have my MRI done and then come back to you for the mammogram in June, and then if all the scans are clear I s’pose we can crack on.’ (I actually said ‘crack on’. Like we were talking about a haircut, and not the removal of my ladybits.)
‘Indeed,’ he said.
‘Cool,’ I said.
‘So if that’s it, then…’ Smiley Surgeon concluded, pushing himself up from the arms of his chair.
‘Actually, um... there is one more thing,’ I stuttered, getting squeakier with every syllable. ‘Remember how I told you about my book?’
‘Oh yes! Have you got it?’ he asked, enthusiastically.
‘Well, this is your copy,’ I said, sliding it across the desk as the voice had advised.
‘Brilliant!’ he exclaimed, turning it over to look at the back cover. ‘Brilliant! And a quote from The Telegraph! That’s very prestigious!’
‘Oh heck, don’t get your hopes up,’ I goofed, as he continued to read the blurb.
It was at this point that I suddenly remembered the horribly soppy message I’d written inside the cover. Fuck – the message! ‘An acknowledgement in a book doesn’t quite cut it…’ Oh fuckshitbollocks. ‘Thank you for giving me a breast I’ve come to love every bit as much as the one I lost…’ And, oh no – double fuckshitbollocks – the massive kiss! And the heart! In pink pen! What the fuck had I done? I'll tell you what I'd done. I’d just handed the man responsible for my cancer-prevention a book in which I swear like a trooper, talk at length about my bowel movements, and reveal that I’m a little bit in love with the doctors who’ve treated me. A book in which he doesn’t even know he’s a major character. A major character with a pet name, ferfuckssake.
‘Abort mission! Abort mission!’ screamed the voice in my head. ‘Pick up your bag! Leave the building! Get the fuck out! NOW!’ Panicked adrenaline forced me out of my seat and into my jacket in a single flinch.
Smiley Surgeon continued to hold up my book’s cover at his eye level, and proudly turned it around to show the trainee surgeon who’d been observing our appointment. I’d barely even noticed she was there.
‘This is amazing, Lisa,’ he said, taking his smiley moniker to new levels.
I shrugged and blushed simultaneously, as P made a gesture that suggested we ought to be leaving.
‘It’s great that you’ve turned all of this into something so positive,’ Smiley Surgeon went on. Which, of course, made me blush even more.
‘Pahh,’ I burbled, maniacally waving a hand in front of my face in the hope of passing off my reddening cheeks as a hot flush.
‘My, you are determined,’ he said, bringing our meeting to a close as I sheepishly skulked out of the room.‘Yup,’ said the voice in my head. ‘You’re determined, all right. Determined to make yourself look like the right tit he’s going to remove.’