It was June of 2013, and I had been stable for 3 years and hoped to remain so for as long as I could. It had been 4 days since having a routine CT scan to check that all was well. Reaching this stage in your journey with breast cancer is an achievement in itself, but anybody in my position also knows that there is a price that comes with that. You are permanently teetering on a knifes edge and it takes all your energy and resources to keep your emotions in check…to not let your imagination run away with you and constantly imagine the worst. It is so easy to sink into a black hole that has very slippery walls, making it very difficult to crawl out of. It’s a daily challenge beating back the anxiety and depression whilst looking forward and focusing on the positive light that is in front of you. Once you have been diagnosed with cancer your body is no longer a friend, it becomes the enemy within…you lose all your faith in it’s ability to protect you from the outside world and to keep you safe and alive. Excuse the cliché, but you really do hold your breath and wait for the other shoe to drop.
It’s only after many years of practice if you’ve been lucky enough to stay in remission or be cancer free for long enough, that you start to breathe again and your faith begins to be restored. I was finally reaching this point in 2013. I was sure that after this routine scan all would be well. I had just got out of the shower when my phone rang. It was my doctor. I have to take my hat off to these guys…okay there are some doctors out there that have the bedside manner of a retarded baffoon, but my doctor is not one of those. He broke this to me so smoothly, saying that there had been a small change on the scan and that he wanted me to go in and see him, adding that I mustn’t panic…that it was just small. After the conversation had ended and he’d put the phone down, I remained on the spot with my phone still glued to my ear…staring into space. My heart was beating out of my chest and I’d broken into a sweat. Eventually putting my phone down and getting dressed to go and collect the girls from school, I knew I had to keep it together. I spent the whole journey to the school giving myself a pep talk. It was taking every ounce of my energy to keep my head on my shoulders and my sanity intact. Waiting outside the school, there was a part of me that knew I shouldn’t alarm the family…after all it was just ‘small’, but at the same time I wanted to scream and beat my fists against the steering wheel in panic, anger and frustration.
Just my typical run of the mill luck. I have to be honest I had remained realistic through it all. I knew that it was just a matter of time before I would relapse again, but I didn’t bargain on it happening so soon. I was hoping against all hope that I would remain in remission for at least 5-10 years and now it seemed I had fallen hopelessly short at just 3.
My appointment with the doctor was the next day and until then, I could not lose it in front of the girls. I made the executive decision that I wouldn’t tell anybody about this…even my husband. They had all been through enough and I still had no idea how serious this would be. I didn’t want to stress any of them out unnecessarily.
That night, sleep evaded me. I tossed and turned. The hours dragged by and the shadows seemed much longer and larger…way more menacing than reality conveyed. Just before my husband left for work, he asked me what I had planned for the day. Every brain cell was just screaming to tell him. My eyes started to burn as the tears threatened to show themselves, but I swallowed it and giving him a kiss and a hug I said, ‘Oh, probably just a couple of errands.’
I watched him and the girls walk down the hallway, waving goodbye and blowing kisses to them with a forced smile on my face. After they’d disappeared around the corner I closed the front door, sank to the floor and started sobbing.