Monday 7 July 2008

The no-kids clause.

Smiley Surgeon and Always-Right Cancer nurse were on good form today. They're right on my wavelength that, whatever news they have to deliver, it can't be worse than what they told me three weeks ago. Hence, they're always very chipper and matter-of-fact, and keen to talk tennis before cancer.

There was a great moment today when my dressings came off for the first time, and we were all able to admire Smiley Surgeon's handiwork. Man, that guy should set up an alterations business – his stitching is the nuts. For starters, I've got one slightly diagonal scar on my back that's about the length of a Curly Wurly, then one under my armpit that's a bit shorter than a Kit Kat finger. They're both super-neat and healing fast, and they won't be the kind of thing I'm embarrassed about being visible in the future. (Low-back tops are back on the shopping list. Or at least they would be if I could carry them off.)

But – drumroll please – the mother of all wounds is at the front. And what a corker it is. I've never been a tits-out-for-the-lads kind of girl, but now I might just become one. (Jeez, that'd frighten them. 'Ere mate, what's going on with that bird's nipple?')

Anyway, save your imagination. (I could sniff the curiosity from here.) Don't feel bad about it either – if it were you I'd have wanted to know, too. Besides, this is the kind of stuff that'll be left out of Brave Kylie's inevitable coping-with-cancer book, so consider it my duty. Step aside Minogue OBE (pah). My turn now.

So, the New Boob. In my mind, I had envisaged some sort of heinous, purple gash in the shape of an X with bruising all around it and stitches poking out at untidy angles, crusty blood still hanging off. (Enjoying your dinner? Get over it, you're reading the wrong blog.) In reality, my boob looks precisely like it should, considering what it's been through. In short, my nipple has been lopped off and replaced with a graft of skin from my back. Imagine it all as a slightly-vertically-squashed circle with a Quality Street Toffee Penny-sized circle in the middle, and you've got the picture. Not bad eh? No wonder the four of us were cooing over it this morning. Tis a beautiful thing.

I wasn't just being complimentary about it because Smiley Surgeon was in the room, either. You'd think that being polite might be nigh-on impossible if someone had made a mess of your new boob, but I reckon I'd be able to manage it. Hell, I once tipped an Islington hairdresser for giving me a definitely-not-wanted undercut, instead blaming myself for (a) asking her to thin my hair out a bit, (b) not looking up throughout the haircut so she wouldn't think I was checking up on her and (c) giving off all the wrong 'hey-I'm-cool-so-please-experiment-with-my-barnet' vibes by reading a copy of The Face.

Anyway, onto the rest. Consider all of the above 'talking tennis before cancer'. The remainder of today's hospital visit concerned the serious shizzle of histology reports and treatment timelines. And, since all that probably won't be particularly comical/interesting, I'll move swiftly and take the opportunity to write more lists.

First, the good news:

1. Despite the tumour having pushed dangerously close to my skin, that biopsy came back clear. And, let's be honest, I could have done without that as well.

2. I'm healing quickly, in every sense. The dressings are off (apart from a few steri-strips) and the movement in my left arm is coming on. I still shan't be doing the YMCA for a while, but at least now I've got an excuse for being the miserable git who won't participate in a Mexican wave.

3. An obvious one, but the tumour is out. A soon-to-take-place CT scan will determine whether there are any cancer cells elsewhere, but that bulky bitch of a lump that caused all this fuss in the first place is no more. (It's probably in a spot-lit jar in a secret underground lab, looking sulky and lamenting the life of further havoc it could have had inside my lovely left tit, were it not for the pesky professor. Or not. This isn't an episode of Dr Who, after all.)

And the not-so-good news:

1. For a stage two cancer, this is one aggressive motherfucker (Smiley Surgeon may have phrased that differently): it had spread to 24 out of 25 lymph nodes, at a seemingly fast rate. (Bet that 25th node was a right cocky bastard.) The upshot is, we've got to move fast on the chemo.

2. The cancer is more hormone-receptive than we might have thought. On the morning of my surgery, P & I had an appointment with a fertility specialist (I like to think of him as The Eggman) who recommended a quick pre-chemo course of IVF. As that would involve a hefty dose of oestrogen, it's now off the menu, as is any hope of freezing eggs prior to my next phase of treatment. We can't hang around waiting for my ovaries to cough up the good stuff.

3. There's a chance that my getting pregnant in the first place exacerbated the cancer. (See, kids, SEX IS DANGEROUS. I ought to advertise my services to schools – I'd scare the bejeezers out of the little shysters.) There's no definite way of knowing whether or not either pregnancy was to blame for The Bullshit but, either way, it turns out that oestrogen might just be my kryptonite. Has the pregnancy penny dropped yet, then?

Here's the deal: next time I order a coke in the pub, no more raised eyebrows, right?

No comments: