I’m going to have a mammogram today. The results will be ready for when I see the consultant at breast clinic next week, and maybe the oncologist will have a peep when I see him the week after. (I’m not sure whether oncologists look at mammograms or not. I guess by the time we get to them, the mammogram has done its job.After all, a dishwasher doesn’t need to see the knickerbocker glory in order to wash up the sundae glass.)
These are routine appointments: part of what’s described as ‘watchful waiting’. (Just so long as we’re clear that we’re waiting for me to be Officially Cancer Free, not waiting for the little bugger to strut back on to the dance floor.) There’s no reason to believe that the tests will Find Anything. I don’t feel unwell, and my near-obsessive breast checking every morning in the shower hasn’t revealed anything untoward – apart from the fact that breasts are quite annoyingly lumpy and it’s almost impossible to tell whether anything is changing if you can’t leave them alone for more than 24 hours.
And yet. And yet. This trio of appointments has me feeling as though I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, the rock crumbling every time I try to move back to safety. I’m nervous and preoccupied, and a little afraid.
In fact, right now I’m wondering whether I’ll be sitting here in a fortnight writing a rueful blog post about how, if only I’d added up the tiredness and the itchy nipple and the toothache and the tearfulness correctly, and got them to total cancer instead of making them equal run-down and end-of-winter and worried-about-money, I’d have bought myself a bit more time.
Of course, when I find myself thinking that way, I make myself go and do something more useful. (Like acknowledge that it’s OK to be worried. Like read a book. Like talk to someone. Like write it down so that the interwebs can share in my anxiety.) But I’m amazed by how often I find these thoughts coming up, in different guises.
Yesterday, driving to the beach, I found myself having a conversation in my head with a consultant: I was explaining that yes, of course I was prepared to have a mastectomy if that was what was needed, but only if the fat for the reconstruction came from my tummy, thank you very much.
Sometime during the time I spent knitting on Sunday I decided that, if I have to do chemotherapy again, I’ll do it with a nutritionist and hypnotherapist on my team.
And I’ve started work on the third Bah! book, which is emphatically not about cancer, but there’s a page in a notebook with ideas for what that book would look like if it did turn out to be a cancer book after all.
The funny thing is that I wouldn’t be having any of these reactions if I didn’t have these checks coming up – and the checks mean that even if cancer does come back to me, it won’t have the chance to take hold.
So. I’m wearing my favourite bra and my bravest face, and I’m off to get myself reassured – however un-reassuring the process is turning out to be.
Please, wish me luck. I don’t think I need it. But I’d like to take it anyway.